Up | February 17, 2013
>>> good morning from new york i'm chris haynes. " usa today " has obtained a draft of the white house proposal for immigration reform which would allow undocumented immigrants to become permanent citizens within eight years. republican senator marco joub of florida said the proposal would be quote dead on arrival . and michael jordan the greatest basketball player ever to play the game turns 50 years old today. right now i'm going by professor of law, and sister mary hughes. and national correspondent for the american conservative magazine and the author from "grace on the margins." people around the world shocked on monday by the sudden announcement that pope benedict xvi would step down at the end of the month. only a handful of popes have renounced their office. pope benedict xvi is the first to resign in 600 years. when benedict became the pope in 2005 he was 78 years old. now at 85 age seems to be the reason for his resignation. speaking in latin on monday the pope said quote after having repeatedly examined my conscience before god i have dome the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the petrine. benedict 's successor faces several challenges both in the u.s. and around the world. seminary enrollment in the u.s. has fallen at a staggering rate also in europe. church attendance is down. the church 's center of gravity has moved to africa and the church works through the legacy of widespread cover-up of rape by priests a cover-up that revealed institutional failures. given all this how exactly should we judge pope benedict 's brief papacy and what's next for the world's largest and oldest institutions. i have to say, i was raised in the church , i was baptized in the church , my father was a jesuit seminaryian. i think my first question, i want to talk about the resignation itself because what i find fascinating is ratzinger is associated with the liberals, viewed later on as a reactionary. and yet his final act the final act for which he's known is this remarkably modern fit. here's this traditionalist who has done the most modern thing imaginable which is basically to say i'm too old to do the job which seems to me like a very wise common sensical thing but radical given the history.
>> i would say it's radical and i would say it's going to be very interesting to see how he performs in his post-papacy to establish a precedent for this.
>> i imagine a jimmy carter sort of thing.
>> "the onion" had a good article about him joining a catholic think tank . it will be very interesting because i think there is potentially -- i think it may be modern and it may be good and it may be something inevitably was going to happen as our lives are being extended into senility and things we're not used to. there could be a danger with the idea that okay popes can resign. should they resign if they become unpopular. there's talk in england of, you know, the crown skipping a generation because of reasons of popularity. once you establish that you basically give yourself over to democratization in the church .
>> the horror.
>> it is a horror.
>> we have bishops being chosen by the faithful. unthink scrabble today but more traditional than the current system.
>> that's interesting.
>> if you look at religious communities they long had a tradition generally of not electing someone for life. it's a period of time. you come. you give your best gifts. then someone comes in with different gifts to either continue your legacy or to reshape it in another way. i think it's very promising to look at something like this. it allows the spirit to move into the realm differently.
>> how should we judge? i think the question -- people are fascinated with the catholic church because it's one of the world's oldest institutions. historically one of the world's most powerful institution. it still exerts a pull over our imagination for catholics and noncatholics. when news came what's the criteria to talk about a papacy. how do you judge a papacy. what are the metrics if we're conducting pope benedict 's exit interview . how do you judge it?
>> i would judge it by the state of the church and the health of the church . i think it's fair to say at this point this is not a healthy time for the roman catholic church particularly in the united states where you have 77 million catholic, two-thirds of them no longer go to church regularly.
>> ding, ding, ding.
>> that's very common. half of that number don't even call themselves catholic any more. we're definitely in a crisis mode. i think there's been too much stress on the pelvic zone issues and that's all folks are hearing about the church and so they almost have been made into an idol those teaching, how you feel about those teachings is determining whether you're in or out.
>> is the focus on culture war issue, pelvic zone issues as you talk about in the realm of birth control , premarital sex , gay and lesbian relationships is that driven by a press that can only view this through this political lens or driven by a church putting emphasis on it?
>> there's a little bit of both. i go -- people that follow me on twitter know i go to a latin traditional mass with the most militant type of priest. and we have maybe one sermon --
>> militant traditional.
>> yes. but they have the most, you know, we get one homily every two years about pelvic zone issues. it may be discussed in catechism class. most of the focus is have faith in jesus christ . it's not like going to a pro life activism course or something like that when you go to mass even at the most traditional catholic parishes. i think there's a way the media has given a set of moral issues that are contested in our broad culture and everyone is in a sense licensed to have an opinion on them.
>> which as it should be.
>> a lot of licensing for opinions.
>> there could be in another age we would be debating different moral issues and the church 's position on something else like slavery or usury or something else would become the focus. people would say i hate the poeps th popes they condemn commerce and commercial progress in the united states . that's why for the noncatholic or the catholic that's away from the church they experience the church through the media. here's a sweaty fat priest telling me what to do with my sex life .
>> i'm sitting right here.
>> you know, i think that some of it is media. certainly benedict has been the greenest pope. he installed solar panels on the residence. he's done remarkable thing. but it's fair we have to look at the church 's pocketbook where it is spending its money. we learned in the last year during the election season it funneled millions of dollars to the knights of columbus and the knights of columbus in turn used to fund national organization for marriage. so much of the money is being spent on the agenda.
>> and u.s. confidence of bishops they were outspoken on affordable care act decision, mandated birth control , there's a lawsuit. that's not a fabrication of the media. that was a political battle. that's their belief system and they have every right to participate in the legal system like everyone else does but i don't think you can say that fight was picked by --
>> it's an interaction with the media. last night at dinner someone said how do you get along with chris hayes . we don't agree about much. actually we agree with 98%. we don't have a controversy over 98% of thing we agree about. just orthodox catholicism is liberal 98% of the time. so is the media. then there's 2% where there's a clash. and that's also going to define how the bishops spend their money, whether defending it or not that's where their money is going to be spent because they don't need to spend money to get msnbc to talk about global warming .
>> there wasn't wall to wall coverage from 1978 on when the u.s. conference of bishops was saying we need universal health care . that wasn't a watch out america these bishops are coming to give you health care . so there is an element where it's just, we focus it -- really based on pre-existing partisan narratives and then try to apply to it the whole church .
>> i want to talk about something you talked about the declining membership issue not just in u.s. but jump and latin america , evangelicals are going. a question about how much should a pope be held responsible for that or even think about that. you're not selling a product at some level. so if the metrics are that people are leaving the flock, you know i guess the question is should you be judged by that? what does you want say about the church that membership is declining and what does it mean for the church 's future right after this break.