Transcript: Vatican Insiders on 'FNS'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of "FOX News Sunday," April 3, 2005.

We're joined now by two men who spent years working inside the Vatican, and knew the pope well. Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, New Jersey, and Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh.

Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. It's good to have you with us today.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: There's so much to talk about, when it comes to this pope and his papacy. Let's look at some remarkable numbers that we have compiled.

The third-longest pontificate in history: 26 years, 5 months. Visited 129 different countries and territories. Travelled more than 775,000 miles. More than 17 million people attended his Vatican audiences. And of course millions more saw him around the world.

Bishop Galante, this man redefined the papacy, didn't he?


He made the pope accessible. You used to have to go to Rome to see the pope. Pope John Paul II came to us, so that everyone in the world could come to know him and to be in touch with him.

WALLACE: Bishop Wuerl, your thoughts about how this man changed the face of the papacy and the Catholic Church?

BISHOP DONALD WUERL, DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH: One of the ways in which he did that was a message he brought to the whole world consistently, over and over again, whether it was to individuals or crowds of millions. He kept repeating that message we all need to hear, that there's a spiritual dimension, a quality of life that we simply cannot have and experience without a relationship with God.

I think that was one of the reasons he was so accepted and embraced, especially by young people. His message was just so filled with hope, at a time when there's a temptation to see the darker side of life.

WALLACE: Bishop Wuerl, you had an extraordinary experience that I want to ask you about. When you were a young priest, you were allowed in the conclave, back in 1978, that chose this pope — this event that is closed off to the world — because you were a young priest helping your cardinal, who was in a wheelchair.

Take us inside. What is the scene inside the Sistine Chapel (search) when the cardinals are electing a pope?

WUERL: Well, I think the memory that I carry away with me from that time was the seriousness of everyone there. They realized that the Holy Spirit was at work through them and that everyone there, the cardinals, were instruments of this power of God to select the successor to Peter.

The one memory I carry away from those moments of assisting Cardinal Wright in that conclave was the seriousness, the prayerfulness, the attentiveness and openness to God's spirit.

And I suspect that's what's going to permeate this conclave as well.

WALLACE: Do the cardinals talk with each other about various candidates? Is it, in some spiritual sense, a political process, Bishop Wuerl?

WUERL: I don't know if I would describe it as other than an opening, a personal opening to the power of the spirit. Obviously, there's going to have to be some conversation, but the purpose and focus of the conclave obviously is to elect the pope. But the mechanism by which that's done relies so heavily on prayer and on opening to the spirit.

Obviously, there will be some conversation among the cardinals that are there.

Bishop Galante, the focus turns now of course to the man who will succeed, has the very daunting task of trying to succeed John Paul II. And there is talk about some of the choices the cardinals may have to make, whether to pick a European, or perhaps a non- European — this pope was so instrumental in spreading the gospel to the Third World — a world-traveler, or someone who may perhaps let the Church become less centralized.

What are your thoughts about what the Church, what these cardinals are looking for in the pope's successor?

GALANTE: Well, my expectation would be that, first of all, because Pope John Paul II was such a deeply, deeply spiritual man — I'm convinced he was a mystic, that his prayer was so profound that, when he prayed, he was oblivious to anyone and any situation around him, he was so focused on God — so, his successor will obviously have to be a man of deep spirituality.

But also, his successor will have to be a man who's accessible, both through the ability to communicate with people in various languages, but especially to have that kind of a pastoral heart, a love for people that Pope John Paul II gave.

I don't envy the cardinal who will get elected and will succeed Pope John Paul II.

However, I also have great faith that, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that the cardinals will select the man who will best fulfill this very daunting task.

GALANTE: And it may well be someone from outside of Europe.

WALLACE: You sound like you might like that possibility.

GALANTE: Well, I'm open to whatever the spirit offers to the church. But I think that after the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla — a non-Italian, a Slav — I think the papacy now, I expect, is going to be completely open to the possibility of any cardinal from any part of the world being elected.

WALLACE: Bishop Wuerl, when it came to doctrine, John Paul was certainly a traditionalist, a defender of the faith. But as you know far better than I, there were some good practicing Catholics in this country who had some concerns and some disagreements with some of his teachings, whether it was on birth control or the role of women in the church.

And over the years, we have seen some decline in attendance in the American church and also certainly a decline in the membership in the priesthood.

My question to you, Bishop Wuerl, is this: Did the pope see any link at all between those trends and his teachings, and did he care?

WUERL: I think one of the elements in the life of the pope that made him so attractive in the United States and around the world was he combined a rootedness in the church's teaching, a complete faithful rootedness in the received tradition, in the creed of the church.

At the same time, he was so concerned for human beings. And so he was able to take the very best of the Catholic tradition, a 2,000- year teaching tradition, and apply it to the situation around the world. He was defender of social justice, an advocate for peace.

He moved around the world speaking for the marginalized, for people who had no other voice to speak for their needs. But all of this came out of his profound faith conviction that he was called, he was the voice to speak on behalf of Christ, of Christ's church, and therefore of that body of teaching that each one of us is called to embrace.

Now, does everybody around the world who is Catholic live the fullness of the faith every day? That's part of what the pope's job, that's part of what a bishop's job, that's part of what a priest's job is to do: to call people to the fullness of that. But I think what made the pope so attractive, especially among young people, was he never wavered. He was never, never unsure. His voice was never unsure in presenting what the church calls us to believe.

The application of faith requires, first of all, a firm awareness of what it is we believe. That was his great gift. He was clear in his presentation of the Catholic faith, and at the same time urging people who apply it to the situation in which they live to make this a better world.

WALLACE: Bishop Galante, it is noteworthy that in his final days, the pope decided not to go back to the hospital, to stay at the Vatican and not to taken extraordinary measures that he could have only taken at a hospital to prolong his life.

Sir, what do you think that says about the end-of-life decisions that he made?

GALANTE: Well, I think first of all his end-of-life decisions are very consistent with what Catholic teaching is, that extraordinary means do not need to be taken. But I really think the root of his decisions around his dying was very much found in his acceptance of suffering that he saw suffering, that he saw suffering not as a terrible, meaningless tragedy but as something which united him in an even more intimate way to Jesus.

That as St. Paul reminds us, that we fill up in our own bodies the sufferings of Jesus. And so in suffering, in pain, in that experiencing of the diminution of our physical strength, of our physical abilities, and even at times of our mental abilities, the sharpness that we would have, that that really isn't pointless or useless, but it's very much something that unites us in a more intimate way to the suffering and to the dying of Jesus.

And I think Pope John Paul II so firmly believed and lived that. He lived it in a profound way. He never tried to hide his illnesses, his Parkinson's and the diminution of his strength, for a man who was in his younger days extremely athletic, extremely active, a skier, a swimmer, a hiker.

GALANTE: And yet he accepted and surrendered very peacefully to the weakening and to the lessening of his physical abilities.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're running out of time and I want to, because both of you have the privilege of serving in the Vatican and spent time with this pope, get a brief insight from both of you.

Bishop Wuerl, I understand that you had an experience with the pope one time when he was walking past you in a hallway?

WUERL: This was right after he was elected. And as he walked down the hall, I knelt, as one would do out of respect. And as he began to pass by, he saw me there, reached down and pulled me to my feet. It was to me a symbol of his desire to be able to reach out to people directly.

And even though there are symbols that accompany the office, he was prepared to move right on over that so that he could, in face-to- face contact, simply greet you and speak to you eye to eye. I will always treasure that moment of meeting him in the hallway of the apostolic palace.

WALLACE: And, Bishop Galante, one brief final thought from you, an experience, an event, an insight.

GALANTE: Well, I was — the last time while I was still working in Rome that I had lunch with the pope, I happened to be sitting on his right and I was suffering from a fever and I had gotten out of being sick in bed to come to that luncheon because I had to talk with him about certain things.

And I was coughing and I was sweating. And at one point, I just put my left hand on his arm and said to him, "Holy Father, you must have something better to do than to be having me cough on you and sweat on you. I'm sorry." And he just kind of smiled and just nodded his head as though to say, "Hey, we all suffer from the human frailties of colds and fevers and things. Let's keep going."

WALLACE: A pope and a man.

Bishop Galante, Bishop Wuerl, thank you so much for being with us today.

GALANTE: Thank you...

WUERL: You're very welcome.

GALANTE: ... for having me. God bless you.

WALLACE: Thank you, sir.