Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/25/15
CHESTER GILLIS, PROF. OF THEOLOGY AT GEORGETOWN UNIV.: Yes, the mass
is identical all over the world. This is interesting because you have the
pope speaking in English and then Spanish, and now the main segment of mass
in Latin. So – and this is clearly the language of the church, but not
generally the language of the people anywhere in the world anymore.
So it`s a very interesting combination within this liturgy and it adds
to a certain reverence (ph) (INAUDIBLE) liturgy, I`m sure.
MATTHEWS: How many places in the world do you have the Tridentine
mass, the Latin mass, still celebrated?
GILLIS: Well, there still are places in the world that this is
celebrated. They have permission to celebrate it in all dioceses around
the world. But it`s a small segment of the community and the priesthood
that celebrates (INAUDIBLE) and this is not the Tridentine (ph) mass, by
the way. This is the contemporary mass (INAUDIBLE) in Latin. (INAUDIBLE)
probably in some of the older Catholics (INAUDIBLE), but younger generation
would not be.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I grew up as an alter boy. We had Latin mass all the
time growing up. Thank you for joining us.
Joining us – with us now is also NBC senior Vatican analyst George
Weigel. George, thanks again for your thoughts about this mass we`re
watching here in this enormous amphitheater, Madison Square Garden.
GEORGE WEIGEL, SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Chris, what occurs to me is that
we might not (ph) have tried to link this to the remarkable events earlier
today. We saw the pope at the U.N. as a voice attempting to bring some
moral reasoning (INAUDIBLE) politics. We saw him as a healer at Ground
Zero, at the memorial to the victims of 9/11.
Now we`re seeing him in the role that ties all that together. He`s a
Catholic priest. And what the church does at holy mass, what the church
does at the Eucharist is what makes sense of everything else. Without
this, we are simply another non-governmental organization. The pope has
said that on innumerable occasions. He doesn`t want the church to simply
be another NGO.
So what`s happening here at Madison Square Garden is what makes sense
of the whole business, the service, outreach, the dialogue with other world
religions. It all comes out of this celebration of the Eucharist, which
the Second Vatican Council called the source and summit of the church`s
POPE FRANCIS I: Deliver us Lord, we pray (INAUDIBLE) evil (ph).
(INAUDIBLE) grant peace in our days that by the help (ph) of the mercy
(ph), we may be always free from sin and safe from all the stress as we
await the blessed hope and the coming of our savior Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles, Peace I leave (ph) you,
my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your (ph)
church. (INAUDIBLE) grant her peace and unity in accordance with your
will, who lives and reigns forever and ever.
POPE FRANCIS I: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
CONGREGATION: And with your spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us offer each other the sign of peace.
MATTHEWS: While we watch communion time here at this very high mass,
let`s have a chance here to talk with E.J. Dionne. He`s joining us here,
watching the very impressive mass with the pope at Madison Square Garden.
E.J., thank you for joining us. I see you occasionally at Blessed
Sacrament. It`s the same mass, but this is quite grand, isn`t it.
E.J. DIONNE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It`s a really beautiful mass, and
it was striking to hear the Latin, which is a universal language in the
church, even though it`s largely forgotten, and you and I probably as kids
have to learn some very difficult parts of the mass in Latin.
DIONNE: But I have to say I have been so struck during this mass,
during his sermon and I think throughout this trip about the emphasis that
Pope Francis puts on love and mercy. I mean, he can – you can preach a
God a judgment, and that God never disappears. You can preach a God of
justice, and a God of justice is very much part of what he`s talking about.
But he constantly comes back to a God of love and mercy. He said in
his sermon about Jesus, he keeps telling the disciples to go out – to
where they are, not where we think they should be. And he specifically
talked about a merciful father.
And the other two things that really struck me over the last couple of
days are the intense humility of this man. And it`s not just a personal
humility, but it`s an intellectual humility.
It was very powerful in that speech in Congress when he said, Don`t
divide the world into the righteous and the sinner. He said the are no
churches immune from delusion or extremism, but the overwhelming thing is
You know, he wrote a document called “The Joy of the Gospel.” And the
one time I got close to him was at Catholic Charities here in D.C., and he
radiates joy with everybody he meets. And when you think about the
combination of humility and joy, that is appealing way beyond the confines
of the Catholic church.
I got a couple of e-mails from non-believing friends who said, Gee, do
I have to believe to belong to the Catholic church? They were so struck by
Francis at the Capitol when he said, Even if you don`t believe, wish me
well. Oddly, preaching a gospel that way as opposed to saying, I am right
and you are wrong – this way is much more evangelical.
MATTHEWS: Professor Gillis, you know that – I wanted you to continue
your thoughts about the ritual here and the role of Latin. Are we going to
keep some role for Latin?
GILLIS: It is the language of the church, so I think it`ll always be
a part of the church, and it can be used anywhere in the world. The
Eucharist can be celebrated in any language, in African languages, in
Western European languages, Indoeuropean languages. Latin is just one
I wanted to make one comment following on E.J. of saying the opening
prayer was – he said, May God ask us to be an instrument of his peace.
And the gospel and the reflection he had was, A people who have walked in
darkness have seen a great light. Well, this man is an instrument of peace
and he is a great light.
MATTHEWS: Father Kesicki, tell us about the Jesuit aspect of this
pope. Do you feel it when you observe what he does and what he says? Do
you hear the philosophy lessons the Jesuits particularly are given as part
of that 15-year effort to become a Jesuit priest?
FR. TIMOTHY KESICKI, JESUIT CONF. OF CANADA AND THE U.S. : Well, he`s
clearly is a son of St. Ignatius Loyola. And when one looks at the
founding principle and foundation of the society, to really – to serve the
church under the banner of the cross, you see that in the life of Pope
You know, in his homily – this mass, incidentally, the missal for
this mass is a mass for justice and peace. And when he talks about the
prince of peace, he`s – many of us tend to think that we`re just praying
for peace in distant countries or in other parts of the world.
But he connects it to us personally. He says that Christ removes us
from the fray of competition and self-absorption and opens before us the
path of peace, that peace which is born of accepting others, that peace
which fills our hearts.
So he`s really calling everyone who`s watching, everyone in Madison
Square Garden, to be an instrument of Christ`s peace – again, a very
Jesuit, very Ignatian theme that we are all called to serve Christ this
DIONNE: And Chris, I was so struck – if I could – when you spoke to
Mayor Flynn about ethnicity. And we who write about politics are mostly
accustomed to talking about ethnic groups in the city and why they hate
each other and why they vote against each other.
And I was struck that what – when the pope referred to this, he said,
In this place, with all its variety and the common interests of so many
people – so he automatically went not to differences leading to conflict,
but to differences leading to common interests. It doesn`t always happen
in our politics, but that`s the aspiration that he laid out for us.
MATTHEWS: Mayor Flynn, I want to bring you back in. And how do –
you`re a very – I think people think of you as a conservative Catholic on
the issue of abortion rights and really being strict with the church on
that and very observant to its teachings. And yet the people that have had
the most – biggest public reaction to this pontiff have been those on the
liberal side – in fact, those on the lapsed – lapsed side of Catholicism.
How do the two groups get together, the people who have been observant
and have accepted the church`s doctrine and teaching authority, and those
who have questioned it and those who have found a way around it through
RAY FLYNN, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN: Chris, I`m a Democrat
and always have. I grew up in South Boston in the labor movement, and so
forth. But mostly, I`m a pro-life social and economic justice Catholic
committed to the poor. Now, that doesn`t necessarily fit into any
Having said that, you know, I don`t have – I didn`t have very many
pictures in the mayor`s office in Boston, but I had one picture – in fact,
for the 10 years that I was mayor, there was one person that ever came into
my office of all the prominent people that I had, that recognized the
picture, and it was Governor Mario Cuomo of New York.
And you know what the picture was? It was Christ in the bread line.
Of all these candidates for presidents and presidents of banks that came
into my office, they would only see one picture. They didn`t recognize
Christ in a soup kitchen, in a bread line. That was a famous picture.
They just saw homeless people. And they knew that I was president of the
mayors and the chairman of the Homeless Commission.
But there it is today. Pope Francis is showing us he sees Christ in
the bread line. That`s what I take away from Pope Francis`s comments
tonight. Pope Francis saw Christ in the soup kitchen and in the bread
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going to add you to my list of one, of Bob Casey,
the senator from Pennsylvania. You`re the second…
FLYNN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: … one that in a political sense…
FLYNN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: … accepts everything the Holy Father speaks about through
the magister (ph) of the church.
Anyway, joining me right now is Father Kevin O`Brien, a friend of
mine. He`s in charge of mission and ministry at Georgetown University.
Father O`Brien, it`s great to have you on tonight. And they`re serving
communion, of course, now. We`re taking this opportunity to talk to
everybody who`s watching right now.
And you deal with the ministry of the Jesuit community in Georgetown,
the students. People in their early 20s – I mean, everybody who has a
Catholic family knows what I`m talking about, getting kids, and I mean kids
in their 20s, to go to church.
And the old school was get them out of bed, get them to church or they
don`t live in your house anymore. Today, it`s very hard to treat children
like that, even young adults like that. How do we do this?
FR. KEVIN O`BRIEN, VP FOR MISSION AND MINISTRY, GEORGETOWN UNIV.:
MATTHEWS: How does it get done?
O`BRIEN: Yes. Thanks, Chris. It`s great to be here.
I think the pope`s style is very approachable for young people. He
has a way of talking, using images and stories and idiom that really speak
to young people. And he also preaches to them where they`re – where
I`m struck here watching this, the mix of the secular and the sacred.
I mean, here where the Knicks play and here where Billy Joel plays his
monthly concert, we have the holy mass of the Catholic church. And in a
sense, the setting fits in perfectly with the homily that we heard – that
is, take what happens here and go out into the streets.
And even as he speaks, Pope Francis is always bringing in the people
of the street. The people, the working poor, the people that we too easily
look over he is always bringing to us through his words, his homilies, his
And I think if there`s one avenue that is most attractive to young
people, I find, is the commitment to social justice, that while they may
have questions about their faith, their passion for justice is clear and
it`s real and it`s vibrant. And often, once many young people engage the
works of justice, that`s the avenue into discussions of faith.
MATTHEWS: Professor Gillis, tell us about – while we have a moment
here, because I`m fascinated with it – Thomas Merton. A friend of mine,
who`s been recovering alcoholic for 30-some years, very much in the program
– he really points to Thomas Merton`s writings as very important to his
And do you have a sense of what that`s all about?
GILLIS: Thomas Merton inspired many, many – his life story, “The
Seven Storey Mountain,” is a remarkable one. This is a man who left behind
a kind of prominent secular life at Columbia University, who was into
radical philosophy, and found the gospel. And then – and so changed his
life dramatically and went to a monastery, and within the monastery, lived
within a monastery within a monastery. He lived separate from the rest of
the community for a time in isolation as a kind of a hermit.
Well, that`s a huge transformation in anybody`s life, and your friend
obviously was inspired by that. And clearly, this pope is inspired by him.
And I was so delighted to hear his name mentioned, with Dorothy Day.
Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King I think Americans are familiar with,
but these other figures they`re are not. And these have been hugely
influential figures on social justice issues and spirituality and bringing
the two together.
And also, for our friend, the monk, it was always a dialogue with
other religions, as well. He was very interested in the “other,” not
simply the Christian, not simply the Catholic, but whoever was “other” in
any way, including the atheist. And this pope seems to be the same.
MATTHEWS: George Weigel, put together that – I call it a spiritual
Mt. Rushmore. How do you put all four together? Is it – how does that
add to something that – that has a symmetry to it, a unity to it?
WEIGEL: Chris, when I was talking with Pope Francis about 16 months
ago in Rome, he made a very sharp distinction between what he called men of
power and men of principle. He`s very suspicious of the former and very
admiring of the latter.
And if we look at Lincoln, Dr. King, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, we
see people who had flaws, people who were sinners, but who all cooperated
with the grace of God in their lives, as they understood God to be working
in their lives, to do great things and to be forces of liberation for
I read a lot of Thomas Merton when I was in high school and college.
I used to have his picture on my desk. He did more to introduce Americans
to classic and monastic spirituality than anyone in the 20th century.
Dorothy Day, a life of endless adventure, a woman who had a bit of a
walk on the wild side in her early life, who became a staunch advocate of
social justice, a great pro-life witness, supporter of Paul VI`s encyclical
Humanae Vitae – that`s an element you don`t hear mentioned very often.
And then, of course, Dr. King and President Lincoln, who in their own
unique ways had very interesting relationships with the Lord, with the
power of God, and struggled to bend that power as it works in human lives
to the ends of liberation. So it was remarkable panoply, and I thought a
real kind of love song to America and a summons to us to perhaps be a bit
better than we have been in recent months and years.
MATTHEWS: And, E.J., your last thought, because I think you probably
have thought a lot about Dorothy Day over the years because of your
concern, and I know you follow, going back to the encyclical of the Rerum
Novarum back under Leo XIII and the social gospel of the Catholic Church.
DIONNE: I have a letter that Dorothy Day wrote to a friend of my
mom`s hanging in my Georgetown office. It`s sort of my religious relic.
And I was overjoyed with the list that the pope offered. And I think,
for all of us – and this includes liberals, not just conservatives –
there is a radicalism about both Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
Dorothy Day was a radical pacifist. It was so striking to hear the
reading, offer no resistance to one who is evil. Turn the other cheek.
That is Dorothy Day. And I`m not a pacifist myself, but I have always been
challenged by that.
Merton, the same way, Merton was always looking for truth in God
wherever he could find it, and very much in common with Pope Francis, he
spent years in dialogue with Eastern religion, with Buddhist monks. He saw
a lot of commonality in the monastic life.
And so for the pope to list these figures, Lincoln and King for sure,
but these two figures who are among the most radical people in the American
tradition, I think that laid down a real challenge for all Americans and
particularly for Catholics.
MATTHEWS: Father Kesicki, would this surprise the Jesuit members of
the order, that these four Americans were singled out to – for – really
to get us to read what they had to say? I think that`s – most of us are
going to try to do that.
I`m going to go read “Seven Story Mountain” now, put it next to my bed
and get it done, because I am impressed that the pope said this is the book
you should read or this is the man you should follow.
KESICKI: Well, I think members of the Jesuit order would first look
to the name he chose, Francis.
And I must say I knew it was for Saint Francis of Assisi soon after he
was elected, because Saint Ignatius, in his autobiography, frequently
asked, what would Francis and Dominic have done? So, Saint Ignatius Loyola
looked to others. And so, it is characteristic that Pope Francis would
look – well, certainly, he would look to the culture of the United States,
to Lincoln and King, but also to Merton, a Cistercian, and to Dorothy Day
and the Catholic Worker Movement.
He would not – he is in no way interested in promoting his own order
or any particular agenda, rather recognizing holiness where he sees it.
MATTHEWS: We are going to continue watching this high mass from
Madison Square Garden through the end.
It`s quite a moment for Catholics and other people to see the Catholic
Church in its grandeur here, but also to remember, I think very important
to keep in mind the best work of the church is with the poor and the sick
and the old – elderly and the teaching role the church plays every day of
the week, especially the work done by the nuns, who aren`t so evident here
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us keep prayerful silence for some brief
POPE FRANCIS, LEADER OF CATHOLIC CHURCH: Let us pray.
We pray, oh, lord, the spirit of charity, so that sustained the body
and blood of your only begotten son, we may be effective in nurturing among
all the peace that he has left us, to live (INAUDIBLE) forever and ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Papa Francesco, at every single mass, every single
day, we pray for and in union with Francis, our pope, and now here you are.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is – it is clear how much we welcome you, how
much we love you, how much we need you, how much we thank you for your
visit. You – you have seen our cathedral.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have seen our cathedral. You have seen our
Catholic schools. You have seen our Catholic charities. And now you lead
us in the most important and powerful act we can do, the holy sacrifice of
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You – here you see, Papa Francesco, people from
all of our Parishes, our leaders, our religious sisters and brothers, our
seminarians, our deacons, our priests, our bishops.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our organizations, our ministries, our ecumenical
and inter-religious neighbors, so many benefactors and civic leaders, God`s
It is so radiant on an evening like this, is it not, my brothers and
sisters that God…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is so radiantly evident that God is our father,
that Jesus is our lord, our savior, our older brother, that Mary is our
mother, that saints…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … like Isaac Jogues and the Jesuit North
American Martyrs, Saint Kateri, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint John
Neumann, Saint Marianne Cope, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint Patrick
are our relatives.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is so dazzlingly evident this evening that the
church is our family.
And you, our Holy Father, thanks for visiting us, your family.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
POPE FRANCIS: The lord be with you. Blessed is the name of the lord.
Our heart is in the name of the lord. May almighty God bless you, in
the father, and the son and the Holy Spirit.
POPE FRANCIS: Go in peace. Glorify the lord by your life.
AUDIENCE: Thanks be to God.
POPE FRANCIS: And, please, I ask you, don`t forget to pray for me.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Father Kesicki, “Don`t forget to pray for me,” I think
Americans love that.
You know, it`s interesting. When you remember the words that the Holy
Father concluded at the U.N. he asked – he promised the prayers of the
church for peace.
And then, tonight, he asked for us to pray for him. And it reminds me
of the first moment he came out on the loggia in Saint Peter`s Square,
really his first act, public act, as pope. He prayed for his predecessor,
Pope Benedict XVI, and then he asked the people to pray for him.
And I know people who were on Saint Peter`s Square there that night,
and hundreds of thousands of people gathered there and on the (INAUDIBLE)
and they said you could hear a pin drop, it was so quiet, the way people
prayed for him. So, it`s a very endearing quality of this Holy Father.
MATTHEWS: Mayor Flynn, I would have to say, being from Philly and you
from Boston, that New York gave him quite a welcome tonight. What a
demonstrative performance by the cardinal.
RAY FLYNN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN: Thank you.
You know, you know, Chris, I was thinking he came to the White House.
He came to the United Nations, the nation`s Capitol, to speak before
Congress, and in my favorite athletic place that I played ball with, with
Madison Square Garden.
But, tomorrow, Chris, he is going to go to the most – he is going to
meet the most important institution in America, in the world. That is the
American family, the family. That is the root of the soul and the heart of
the – of America.
And, Chris, I would say one other thing, because I heard you say
beautifully yesterday about you gave the homily at your aunt`s funeral,
sister of Saint Joseph, who taught me – you know, yesterday at Saint
Patrick`s Church, the Holy Father praised the nuns and thanked them for all
that they did. Saint Patrick`s Cathedral stood up.
One last thing, Chris. I think, tomorrow, you are going to see a
great recognition of special-needs children, handicapped children, and
their courageous and their heroic mothers and fathers. If they never had
anybody with them, if they never felt they had anybody with them now, they
have the pope and they have the support of the Catholic Church and the
MATTHEWS: Yes. And you and I know, growing up, how many families had
Down syndrome children who raised them right to adulthood, stuck with them
right from the beginning, with full, incredible devotion.
FLYNN: I have got a little boy right with me right now, my little
grandson Braeden, 9-year-old, born with a rare neurological disease.
The pope provides hope for him when medical community can`t provide
MATTHEWS: Let me go to E.J. Dionne for a second just to give us some
thoughts, because, again, it`s not my role to be critical. I`m not a
critic on this.
But these are church rituals with all men. And the women from Sunday
to Sunday, in between, do all the work of the church. They are there every
day. I spent so much time there last weekend with them. It`s something
under played for people in the wonderful ritual of the church. There is
nothing there for the nuns.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, I mean, without the nuns the
church would have collapsed a long time ago. They are the people who are
closest to all of those Pope Francis talks about. They are the people who
run the hospitals. They are the people who started the schools and in many
cases still teach there. They are in all of these places of need.
I thought it was very striking at the vespers service last night that
the lines that the pope spoke about the sisters, about the nuns got the
most sustained applause it was almost like and perhaps I am reading
something into this but the congregation about nuns in particular, but
perhaps also about women in the church.
And, of course, one of the things that Francis did that a lot of
Catholics welcome is that he ended this kind of investigation into the
American nuns. And I think some of what he said in praising them for being
outspoken was important. But I think the audience was acting in support of
them. So, yes, I think that struck me at a lot of these events, as well.
It is something the church will have to keep thinking about and maybe
someday doing something about.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I saw the same snap of the crowd that went up, the
women in the back row specially. That was so much a statement in itself.
Let`s go inside Madison Square Garden to someone there, my associate,
my colleague, national correspondent Joy Reid.
Joy, you are in there. What don`t we see? What don`t we feel? What
don`t we smell besides the incense which I can imagine, I spent a lot of my
youth with that incense.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I can tell you the
Catholic Church put on display. (INAUDIBLE) it`s home to people on display
here today you saw people speaking in multiple languages. You saw the pope
give a beautiful homily in Spanish and quite eloquent in Spanish. You saw
people greetings and prayer in French and Italian, et cetera.
Before the pope even arrived here. there was a service that was
actually a lure to get people to come here early. So to lure people
earlier they had incredible program.
It is now wrapping up so they can be cleared back out of message.
Back to you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Quite a challenge to hear above the music right there.
Joy, thank you.
What did you sense among the people there? I think most people there
are Catholic based upon their responses to –
REID: I can tell you that I spoke with a number of people –
MATTHEWS: We will have to go – technical problem.
Let`s go to Anne Thompson. She`s outside of Madison Square Garden.
She joins us now.
Boy, what a familiar spot in New York that is. Anne, tell us about
the people outside.
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS: It has been amazing, Chris. I am looking
over here. I can see the corner of 34th and 8th Avenue. And it is jammed.
I kid you not, there are people, kids on their dad`s shoulders. People
have papal flags. I see some Cuban flags in the crowd.
And it is people have stood out here extraordinary patiently, which
would not be a hallmark of the New York crowd, just hoping to catch a
glimpse of Pope Francis.
As I was walking here this evening, I heard women talking just trying
to figure out where they could go so they could see him. He has become
such a powerful symbol to people, a symbol of compassion, a symbol of
mercy, a symbol of inclusion. That was something, a theme that went
through his remarks last night at St. Patrick`s Cathedral when before
giving his formal remarks, he wanted to reach out to as he called them his
brother Muslims and offer his condolences for what happened in Mecca.
And then today at Ground Zero at the interfaiths gathering, I just
thought it was extraordinary. You had all these different religions
represented. It was a way of showing that everybody felt the pain of what
happened that day at ground zero and yet we only come together only if we
come together can we really heal.
I think that measure, that message of inclusion has really impressed
people in the 2 1/2 years that he has been pope.
MATTHEWS: You know New York and thought the service tonight, the
mass, especially the comments by the Cardinal Timothy Dolan, were as much
New York as they were Catholic. My God, it was like Chuck Schumer was up
there. It was a very demonstrative appeal. You know what I`m – talk
about chutzpah, when he said –
THOMPSON: Listen, Tim Dolan, if he wasn`t cardinal of New York, he`d
be mayor of New York.
MATTHEWS: I think so because when he went out there and said, we
prayed for you every mass in New York and, of course, all over the United
States we do that, and then he said, there you are with us. It was such a
grab for the audience and the audience came right back and applauded for
like five minutes just to applaud his presence.
It was like somebody had to do it and Tim Dolan did it. The magic is
not that he exists, but that he is here. That is the wonderful showmanship
and big heart of New York City expressed by its cardinal. Thank you so
This is an odd way usually you go to mass and attend. The music is
great and it has been a great evening here for MSNBC to cover it. Anne,
thank you. Anne Thompson.
Joining me now is Chester Gillis, theology professor at Georgetown
University, an expert in the Catholic Church and papacy.
Professor, what did you make to the pope`s reaction to the grand
demonstration of New York-ism by the cardinal, that grandiosity, if you
CHESTER GILLIS, PROF. OF THEOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIV.: Well, he greeted
it with a million dollar smile which I thought was terrific. Despite his
humility, he has a sense of joy that comes out to everyone. When I watch
this, I thought, I feel like the whole country went to mass tonight whether
you are a Catholic or not. The ritual is beautiful. It was well executed.
The homily was inspiring.
I mean, how could you not leave this venue thinking this is a great
church and this is a great man to lead it with a message from the gospel
that is transformative for the world? That is exactly what I think should
be doing. It is the leaven for our society. Not the exclusive one. By
the way, I was surprised. I thought Cardinal Dolan was the mayor of New
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, professor, about the trajectory coming out
of this. I think the pope is as much a tourist as anyone. Living to be 78
years old in Latin America, way down in Buenos Aires, down there in
Cordoba, and then to be thinking about the United States whenever he picks
up a newspaper and to have an idea about it and then to see the reality, it
must have shaken him to realize how joyous a country we are and we are not
a bunch of capitalists. He met a lot of rich people there in New York.
But I have to tell you, there is a lot of vitality in this country. I
wonder how it struck him.
GILLIS: I think in two ways. One is the preparation he did for this
trip was so obvious. So many venues, so many speeches or homilies or
prayers all sensitively constructed around the American experience. It`s
almost like he lives here. When he went to the Congress and said, the home
of the free and the brave and everybody – it was just –
MATTHEWS: He knew how to get to us.
GILLIS: He understands our society so much better now that he has
seen it. Obviously he can`t help but be delighted with the response that
he has gotten. This is so good for him as a support when saying pray for
him and the support after a very rough decade.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think saying we are a good country in so many ways
not a perfect country but a good country is a powerful message. He seemed
to be delivering that.
Joining me right now is my friend of my mine, Father Kevin O`Brien of
Georgetown. He`s in charge of mission and ministry at Georgetown
University, one of the great universities.
Father O`Brien, your thoughts near the end of our broadcast. I
thought this is so New York, New York, the town they like so much they
named it twice.
FATHER KEVIN O`BRIEN, GEORGETOWN: Yes, I just agree speaking about
how the whole country seemed to go to mass tonight. I thank MSNBC for
sticking with it, because I think we got a taste for the beauty of the
Catholic Church, but also its sort of gritty reality. The diversity of
languages and cultures expressed, and the variety of music and different
languages we heard. It is inspiring.
But I loved how in the homily the pope brought out he talked about
real people. The forgotten people, the people on the streets who we don`t
notice, the people working to support our lives. I think in every venue he
is trying to bring our attention, every American, every person in the world
to all of the people whom to all the people whom we are most likely to
overlook, and he`ll either talk about them or he`ll go greet them and there
will be a picture of them with the pope. And I think the gospel, which we
heard tonight, should always be challenging to us. It should console.
But it`s got to challenge all of us, Catholic or not, to live with
more integrity and to put words into action and faith into justice and to
try to make this world a more just and gentle place. And I think if
there`s a theme, he began this morning talking about reconciliation at the
U.N. and talking about specific issues and he ends tonight talking about
how we will do the work with God`s help and the help of one another.
MATTHEWS: Mayor Flynn, I want to give you a chance to talk about
contrasts here. For weeks now, we`ve been covering a personality in our
American political world who has a big mouth, he`s very proud of himself.
He talks about being rich. He talks about people who are not rich as
losers. He makes fun of people because of their looks.
Now, we have a pope who comes in and talks to the people at the
periphery, the people who have been forgotten, the anonymous people. What
a contrast. Maybe that`s why we`re all in such a good mood.
RAY FLYNN, FORMER BOSTON MAYOR: Well, I think the reason why we`re
feeling so good is because we saw and heard a very humble man, a very
genuine man, a man who reflects the values of the Catholic faith and the
teachings of the Jesus Christ. I mean, this has been around, Chris, for
2,000 years. And my father was a dock worker, never had much education,
but he said to me, Ray, everything will change over time. The only thing
that will never change is the truth.
We heard the truth in Washington. We heard the truth here in New
York. And we`re going to hear the truth tomorrow in Philadelphia. That`s
the message that Pope Francis brought to this country. And we are grateful
for his presence.
MATTHEWS: Was he from Charlestown? Your father?
FLYNN: No, he`s from South Boston. But he was a dockworker. My
wife`s father was a dockworker from Charlestown. And my father was a
dockworker from South Boston. And nobody could be prouder of their
Catholic faith and their family than they were.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to E.J. Dionne for another crack at the contrast
of our news coverage. MSNBC I think has been very honored to be able to
cover the pope`s visit basically gavel to gavel. And it`s been an honor
for me to work with Brian Williams and the rest of us to do that.
And after so much Trump, what do you think?
DIONNE: I think the pope should extend his visit two or three more
weeks because it might have – we might have a little less Trump. I mean,
it is one of his miracles. He`s driven Trump off cable television.
MATTHEWS: I`m laughing at the idiocy that we do find entertaining of
Trump. But it is all the values we were taught against in Catholic school,
bragging about being – even using the word “rich,” we weren`t supposed to
use, talking about poor people as losers, making fun of people`s faces, all
the things that you were taught as the most basic moral structure of your
lives. And it is entertaining I suppose in a sick way to watch someone be
so disrespectful of those values.
But my God, this is a pope who said those are the values that you
DIONNE: He turned Trump on his head. You know, Trump is talking
about not welcoming immigrants. The pope is all about welcoming immigrants
and said, don`t look at numbers. You`re not supposed to brag about being
I mean, he just said today that you that needed to be liberated from
too much striving and to take some time to look out for others. So, yes, I
think for us, it was a fantastic change of pace.
If I could say one other thing, I was struck by his quoting Isaiah in
his sermon today. He talks about – Isaiah talks about bringing glad
tidings to the poor, healing to the afflicted, liberty to captives, and
comfort to those who mourn.
I think that is what people hope that religion might do. I think even
non-religious people. And I thought that passage from Isaiah really
captured what this trip, what Pope Francis has been doing on this trip.
And again, that`s a real relief from what we are accustomed to talking
about most evenings together.
MATTHEWS: I know.
Father Kesicki, let`s talk about this. It`s almost as if this pontiff
is trying to keep going the reformation, the Catholic counter-reformation,
rather, trying to get away from the trappings that Benedict so much
exemplified, the grandeur of St. Peter`s, the papacy itself, the cardinal
in Boston has done that. But trying to get away from all the stuff that
elevates the leaders of the church and separates them from the people who
really need the church.
FR. TIMOTHY KESICKI, JESUIT CONF. OF CANADA AND THE U.S.: You know, I
think – first it`s important to say, Chris, that Pope Francis really does
believe in the continuity of the papacy and we know he still has a strong
relationship with his predecessor, Pope Benedict. But we knew his
archbishop of Buenos Aires, he gave up the palace. He lived in an
apartment. He took public transportation.
He felt that the best way to preach the gospel was to live like one
who is poor. And so, going to Rome and living in the Vatican, he has
continued along that path and he has said basically that there really is no
imperial papacy, one doesn`t need a palace, one doesn`t need a limousine,
one doesn`t need those trappings to define himself. He wants to be seen as
a poor shepherd, one who walks with a simple staff like Christ.
Always remember that when he realized that the cardinals had elected
him, he turned to a really revered figure, Cardinal Hummes. And Cardinal
Hummes said to him, don`t forget the poor. That`s when he knew that the
name he would choose was Francis.
So, he said repeatedly, I want a poor church for the poor. And so, we
should likewise do the same, to give up the trappings in our own life so we
can be more like him.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go right now to NBC`s Rehema Ellis. She`s at the
Apostolic Nunciature where Pope Francis will be spending the night tonight.
Rehema, what`s it like there? It seems like every time the pope goes
back to where he`s staying at night there`s a gaggle of great-looking young
kids cheering him like he`s whatever, the pope.
REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS: Well, here it`s a little bit different,
Chris. This is almost like a fortress. We know that the pope is on his
way because they are stopping vehicular traffic from moving here on Madison
Avenue, and they even stopped pedestrians from moving. You see one or two
But this will all come to a halt as the pope makes his way here back
to the residence. There are even lookouts on the roofs of the building
surrounding the area. But the pope made an effort today to get close to
people here at this residence. They invited some people in at 6:00 this
morning who had an opportunity to see the pope.
And this afternoon a bus of folks from the Ronald McDonald house came,
parents and their children, many of them suffering from pediatric cancer,
illnesses. And we talked with one mother whose 10-year-old daughter has
cancer. She`s been treated for the last six years. And she said to me,
the fact that the pope blessed her daughter and the other children here at
a time when they feel there is no hope and there`s so much difficulty, this
gave them hope. This pope reached out to them.
And that`s the kind of thing, it really is the signature I think of
this pope that while people are being kept away from him, he invited people
MATTHEWS: Rehema, that`s so great. I watched the mass in Madison
Square Garden, as you did. And I saw one of the people in the audience was
quadriplegic, you know, had trouble breathing and the whole works in that
condition. And I was thinking about how people in that condition really do
look to spiritual wonders, even miracles. You know what I mean? It`s like
anything gives hope.
ELLIS: It really is. And the woman who was here, she was from
Toronto, Canada, with her daughter. And she said while she is Catholic,
there were other people who came today to get a blessing from the pope who
are not Catholic but they are reaching, they are looking, they are
searching. They`re hoping for something to help heal their children.
And the pope is here willing to offer his blessing, they would gladly
receive it. And again, he in turn asked these children and these parents
to pray for him and to offer him their good wishes.
MATTHEWS: Rehema, thanks for that reporting from where the pope`s
going to end up tonight. As he prepares to go to Philadelphia very early
I want to thank my wonderful group of guests tonight. We come from
all over. We`re joined throughout our coverage of the pope`s mass this
night. Ambassador Ray Flynn, a great fella. Father Timothy Kesicki, I
just met him. E.J. Dionne, I`ve known forever. Chester Ellis of
Georgetown. George Weigel has been our great friend in understanding the
papacy. And a wonderful priest, Kevin O`Brien.
That does it for me this evening and our live coverage of Pope Francis
celebrating mass in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It`s been an
honor to work with Brian and the others.
By the way, here comes the pope. I`m going to hold off my pope. Here
we watch the motorcycle escort coming up Madison Avenue, I believe, on the
east side of New York. It`s a great place to walk late at night, by the
And the pope comes to New York, a cultural phenomenon in itself
exemplified by the over-the-top, wonderful performance by the cardinal. We
don`t see the Fiat yet. But you`ll notice it when it does come by because
it`s not like these black mariahs that everybody else is driving. There it
is. There we got it. Here we got it.
And he usually waves. You can see him in the car. There is the pope
waving out the window, out the window. So he`s saying good night to us as
we go off our broadcast.
Join me tomorrow morning. I`ll be here in Philadelphia right at this
spot very early tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern when we`ll be live
in maybe the great city of Philadelphia – well, the greatest city, I
should say, for full coverage of the pontiff`s events.
By the way, Philadelphia was the reason he came.
Stay tuned right now. Our coverage continues now on “ALL IN WITH
CHRIS HAYES”. Tonight with Alex Wagner, in for Chris.
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