STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to This Week. On this first Easter Sunday for Pope Francis, we talk with one of the Cardinals who chose him, New York's Timothy Dolan on what the new Pope means for Catholics here in America. And our panel of scholars and pastors discuss religion's place in the public square. Does it help or hinder the search for common ground? Our powerhouse roundtable takes on all the weeks politics, including the Supreme Court's struggle with marriage equality.
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(UNKNOWN): When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage.
(UNKNOWN): The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And North Korea declares a state of war. How real is the threat? ABC's Martha Raddatz reports live from the front lines.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from ABC News headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again, and best wishes to all of you celebrating this Easter and Passover season. It is a tense one in Asia where North Korea stepped up its provocations by declaring a state of war against South Korea this weekend. The latest challenge that has officials in Washington and Soul brace for a possible confrontation. Let's go right to ABC's Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz for the latest on where all this fiery rhetoric is heading.
Good morning, Martha.
RADDATZ: Good morning, George. There is a real sense of unease here in Soul tonight. They have heard rhetoric from North Korea before, but nothing like this. And this is different. This is a new leader, a young leader. No one knows how he will react. And this time, the U.S. and South Korea are really pushing back. We had those B-2 Stealth bombers last week make a round trip from Missouri and drop inert bombs in an exercise here. That has got people on edge, what the U.S. was trying to do, what message they were trying to send.
And they have also said, we have a range of options to counter the provocation and threats, and we hope we never have to put those into effect, George. But there is always room for misjudgment, miscalculation here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, is there any contact at all between officials in Washington and top North Korean officials?
RADDATZ: Well -- well there are certainly diplomatic channels that the U.S. can go through, and they are giving a very strong message through those diplomatic channels that other people in the regime, in the North Korean regime, to step back and stand down. But we again don't now how far Kim Jong-Un will push. He has said so much, it almost seems he has to take some sort of action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Martha. Thanks very much. Let's get more on this now from Congressman Peter King, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also member of the Committee on Intelligence. And -- and you have seen the intelligence. I know you can't divulge all of the intelligence, but North Korea has been talking about reaching the United States with missiles. Is that an empty threat?
KING: It's not an empty threat. I wouldn't be that concerned about them hitting the mainland U.S. right now, even any U.S. territory. I think the real threat is to what North Korea might be boxing itself into. Kim Jong-Un is trying to establish himself. He's trying to be the tough guy. He is 28, 29 years old, and he keeps going further, and further out, and I don't know if he can get himself back in. So my concern would be that he may feel to save face he has to launch some sort of attack on South Korea, or some base in the Pacific.
And then the president -- Premier President Park, the new president is much more pro-Western, much more hard-lined than his predecessor -- predecessor. And so she may respond against North Korea, and then we end up...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So then it just spirals out of control.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, there are no direct contacts between the White House and the North Korean leadership, or Kim Jong-Un. But we saw Dennis Rodman a couple of weeks ago...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...come and say that Kim Jung-Un wants a call from President Obama. Would it make any sense at this point to have direct talks with North Korea?
KING: I don't believe so at all, no. I -- I don't see any purpose in that. As far as I see, this is not even a government. It's sort of like an organized crime family running a territory. They -- brutal, he's brutal, his father is brutal, his grandfather was brutal. I don't see any purpose at all in doing that at all. So I think it would marginalize our allies in Asia, certainly in South Korea and it would serve no constructive purpose whatsoever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Congressman thanks so much. Let's bring in the rest of the roundtable right now, and talk about the weeks politics. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, joining us again. Nice to have you here. Matthew Dowd -- ABC's Matthew Dowd. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the publisher and editor of The Nation, and ABC's newest Washington correspondent, senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny from the New York Times. Welcome. Great to have you here.
Let's talk about gay marriage first, those historic arguments in the Supreme Court this week. And it certainly appeared that a lot of the justices at least may have been looking for a way out of this case on Proposition-8.
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ALITO: You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution, which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?
KENNEDY: We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more.
SOTOMAYOR: If the issue is letting the states experiment, and letting the society have more time to figure out its direction, why is taking a chase now the answer?
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, it's perilous to try to read decisions into questions from the justice. I don't think anybody last year would have predicted the health care outcome based on the questions we saw. But -- but there did seem to be a lot of discomfort on the part of the justices about stepping into this case as this nationwide movement is starting to grow?
DOWD: Well, yeah to me it's actually surprising that the supreme Court is that far actually out of tune with where the country is. The country right now, the majority of the country right now supports same-sex marriage. The vast majority of the country. It's moved a lot in the last 10 years. The country is more evolved, and more consistent on this issue than any other social issue that has come before the Supreme Court. More than it was on inter-racial marriage.
Only 20 percent of people supported inter-racial marriage when the Supreme Court made that decision in 1967. More conjoined on this than civil rights. More conjoined on this than abortion. So the country is way ahead on this, so that's why I don't understand why the Supreme Court seems reluctant to weigh on an issue when the country has already moved on it?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well it could be, Congressman King, there are still more than 30 states that are banning gay marriage?
KING: You know I would right now be opposed to gay marriage. Having said that, even if I supported it, I don't believe the Supreme Court should be making that decision. I think if you have an institution go back 2,000 or 3,000 years, before it's changed for all of the unintended consequences to be thought through, it should work its way through state legislatures, through Congress perhaps so we can -- again -- I'm not -- we should have full equality as far as finances, as far as other issues. I'm just staying, we don't know what all the consequences could be that are unintended right now.
I think Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg said for instance with Roe vs. Wade, that may have been a mistake even from a pro-choice perspective, because it took it away from the legislatures, and a lot of the social issues were not directly addressed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Worried at all about a bad clash if the Supreme Court were to step out, and have a sweeping decision in support of gay marriage?
BOOKER: No, I'm not worried at all. Look, this is an anguished reality where we have a second class citizenship for millions, and millions of Americans who are denied over 1,000 laws. Thank God we didn't wait on the states on women's equality under the law. Thank God we didn't wait for the states on African Americans equality under the law. Thank God we didn't want for the states on -- on inter -- on inter-marriage.
So this to me is -- clearly we know as King said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It seemed as if -- you know you can know this for sure, either but that the case came to the Supreme Court in the first place because the most conservative justices thought this might be their last, best chance while they still have a majority, to hold the line?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, you know justice delayed is justice denied. But I think that the Supreme Court is lagging so far behind now that -- marriage equality has won in this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the only thing that you and Rush Limbaugh agree on.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, but it -- it is moving in states, it's moving politically. And I think you've seen perhaps the most rapid mass evolution on an issue among our politicos as well. They know where the future of this country is. It is also a qualifier to win a next generation. So I think whatever happens in the court, and it may well be that Kennedy's -- Justice Kennedy's consuming affection for state rights does lead to overruling DOMA, I think we are going to see a social, moral and political paradigm shift that is extraordinary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there will -- I mean we already saw a glimpse of it this week, not only at the court, but Jeff I want to bring you in on this. But, first show you had six democratic Senators, many of them in red states, we're going to show them right here, flip on the issue of same-sex marriage just this week alone. And that prompted a comment from the bench from Chief Justice Roberts.
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ROBERTS: You don't doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same-sex marriage laws in different states is politically powerful do you?
KAPLAN: With respect to that category -- that categorization of the term for purposes of heightened scrutiny, I would your Honor, I don't...
ROBERTS: As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of -- of the case.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Quite a commentary from the chief justice. He also seemed almost scornful of President Obama. He said we're trying to have it both ways on the Defense of Marriage Act?
ZELENY: It is stunning how fast everyone has moved on this. But Democrats are not doing this because they've suddenly come to this position. Most of them believed that already, but it's politically feasible and popular for them to do it. In fact, it's dangerous for them not to do it. So the question here politically is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even in red states?
ZELENY: ...well, for Democrats it probably is. But the thing that I'm really looking forward, going ahead here on the Republican side, when does this start to become OK to switch your position? And I'm looking at the donor class. There are more and more donors -- Sheldon Adelson said he doesn't care about same-sex marriage. Some other Super-PAC contributors are supportive of this on the Republican side. So looking ahead to 2016, that's the only way I can see this coming out of the Republican side...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you feeling that -- hold on -- are you getting that, are you feeling that change among your supporters?
KING: There's definitely change out there. There's no doubt about it. Now it's going to be sustained or not, I don't know.
I think this, by the way, I know this sounds naive, should be addressed in a nonpolitical way. I mean, my concerns are changing the institution that quickly just because you have six senators switching last week, or you have polls reversing in eight or nine years, again we have to look at the consequences of changing a 2,000 year institution.
DOWD: George, I want to talk about that first is, this issue is changing already. People sort of developed this myth about 2004 that gay marriage -- the amendments on the ballot had an effect. I was there. They had no effect on the ballot. This issue has been changing for awhile.
But the argument to me that people say this is an institution that's been a traditional institution for 2,000 or 3,000 years, ignores the fact that the institution that was -- if you really want to go to a traditional marriage, it wasn't monogamous, races couldn't marry, women was property and they couldn't give consent. That was the traditional view of marriage for 2,000 years. It isn't this -- a marriage has always evolved over the course of time and this is just another evolution.
And I understand we're sensitive to the...
KING: ...overnight with a decision is not evolving.
DOWD: But it's not overnight.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, same-sex marriage is very, very important part of LGBT equality, but it's not the only part. And I do think some attention should be paid in Congress to reviving the federal Nondiscrimination Employment Act which Representative Barney Frank and Senator Merkley introduced last year, because FBI numbers show a rise in hate crimes against gays. And there are at least 20 states in this country where there is still discrimination. So, the marriage piece is important. But I don't think it should consume the full attention.
Finally the court has lagged behind, as Cory noted, on many issues. I mean, it lagged behind in Brown versus Board. And i think there should be a nod to the extraordinary progression which the president spoke of in his inaugural from Stonewall to the Supreme Court. And it took activists and organizing and personal stories, people seen in their own lives the reflection of...
BOOKER: And let me just say, the power...
KING: I mean, you can't say you're basing it on polls or basing it on public opinion. Then you have the referendum in California which was adopted by a solid majority of the people. We're saying it should be struck down.
So to me, there is still a conflict. The best way to resolve that, historically, has been through the democratic process, not through nine people sitting on a bench.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I respect that. But I also think it's an urban myth that mythology that Roe Versus Wade, for example, elicited a backlash.
I mean, Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times -- Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times correspondent wrote a book, "Roe V Wade" before Roe V Wade. And very clearly the right wing was preparing to use abortion, even before that case, to realign the Republican party to politicize evangelicals. And they did. They used it deftly.
KING: But let's look at it from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice on the Supreme Court.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I respect her view. Our legal correspondent David Cole agrees with that. But there are difference of views. And I think it's a mistake to say backlash, you can't move forward...
ZELENY: The bottom line here is age. The bottom line here is age. 8 in 10 Americans born since 1980 support gay marriage. So, we see...
STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing that you don't see moving in the president's direction since the inaugural is support for his proposals on gun control. And the president took issue with that this weekend and got quite emotional when he was talking about it.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Less than 100 days ago that happened. And the entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and this time it would be different. Shame on us if we have forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we have forgotten.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, look at the latest poll from CBS. Support for gun control in December of 2012, 57 percent for new gun control laws, stricter gun control laws, now down to 47 percent, Cory Booker. So shame on who?
BOOKER: Well, shame on us, because the tragedies haven't stopped. There are still thousands of Americans that are being murdered every single day. We had an innocent man in my city injured by a handgun that didn't come from our -- the handguns in my city are not coming from within our state. And so this is very problematic. When you have the majority of the people, 90 percent Americans, 80 percent of gun owners agree on sensible gun reforms that would stop the carnage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're talking background checks.
BOOKER: I'm talking background checks. I'm talking punishments against straw purchases. We're talking about secondary markets and making sure -- imagine TSA saying, we're not going to check 40 percent of the people that board our planes. That's what we're doing right now. A terrorist in our country can go to do -- can't get on a plane to go there, but could go to certain areas of our country and buy truckloads full of weapons.
Americans are in agreement on this. And the tragedies continue now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So where is this going in the House, congressman? We've seen a bunch of Republicans senators come up this week and say they were going to filibuster that legislation in the Senate. Where is it going in the House?
KING: Let me say, I support the president's position on guns. So I'll say that.
Having said that, it's going to be very difficult to get very meaningful legislation through the congress, because despite what the mayor was saying -- I think...
BOOKER: Mayor Bloomberg -- I'm mayor.
KING: Is that -- again, a majority of Americans don't seem to want this type of legislation. And I support it. So I'm -- I am again, supporting legislation on gun trafficking, on background checks, assault weapons, all of that. But I just don't see the intensity building up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's exactly what you're seeing in the Senate right now?
ZELENY: And this is not Senate Republicans here, this is Senate Democrats. I mean, you can go down the lists of Democrats who are running for re-election, who are up for reelection in 2014 who are not supportive of anything beyond background checks. Max Baucus from Montana, Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, et cetera.
So, the president is talking a lot. You know, his event at the White House was a big moment. He's going to out on the stump this week to talk about this as well.
But, behind the scenes, they realized that the assault weapons bans and other things are nonstarters for Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Anything more he could have done?
VANDEN HEUVEL: The fight is not over. You cite your the CBS poll. Cite your own poll, the ABC poll, which when asked not about stricter gun regulation, but about universal background checks. 90 percent support that. How many things in American do 90 percent of Americans support? 60 percent, military style assault weapon ban.
Listen, the collective, in our collective grief over Newtown we thought things would move in this congress. This congress doesn't move very well. It took five years to pass the Brady Bill in the '90s, a ban on assault weapons and large capacity assault -- magazines. So, I think you're seeing movement, responsible gun owners are being peeled away from the NRA. You're seeing movement. You're seeing a movement.
You're seeing money come in which didn't exist in the '90s, so it couldn't counter the NRA's countervailing, huge amount of money. The movement, I think, will play a role as it did in the '90s to slay this beast. And we will see -- and it will force a vote on certain amendments even if you don't get the assault -- military style assault weapons ban.
DOWD: Living -- I live in Texas, living in the heart of gun ownership and being a gun owner myself, I think what happens in these situations is yes, there's a huge part of the country that supports various things -- the background checks, high-capacity clips, all of those things, the country supports by and large by huge margins and that. But I think what happens is, is there's a sense of people out in the country, out in middle America, that there's somebody, there's some elite trying to tell us what to do.
Yeah, we want those things, yes they need to be restricted, yes we need to protect our children, but some elite somewhere, some mayor somewhere, somebody sets out there trying to tell us what to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Bloomberg's effort actually hurts?
DOWD: I actually think when he goes -- to my mind, and when he goes too far out of the way that says here's what I know best for you, as opposed to here's a reasonable approach, this is what's going to save lives.
I think all of that can pass. The problem in Washington, D.C., is they're traditionally afraid of their own shadow. And the NRA has become a myth in Washington, D.C.. The NRA is not as powerful as anybody thinks. But politicians in Washington think it is. And so they don't do anything in response to that.
If they pass reasonable gun restrictive measures, the country would support it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But look at 2014...
BOOKER: The reality is, is Mayor Bloomberg is not the boogeyman that he's being made out to. He joined with a coalition of mayors. There are hundreds of us, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, joined in a coalition. And what we've been saying for years now is exactly what you said, commonsense rules and regulations.
And so this is the point. The NRA is doing a wonderful job of obscuring this issue. We've even made the mistake in our rhetoric. Those Senators that you said are not against background checks. We have background checks right now. Over 70,000 people were stopped...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just making them universal.
BOOKER: Just making them universal.
KING: And I support strict background checks. But the real opposition -- people don't want, for instance, exchanges among families being reported or among friends. Well, the fact is that's often where the criminal guns are handed down. So, again, it's a lot tougher.
But I support it. I...
BOOKER: The question on this, from marriage equality to this, the simple question is, do you believe in American to the power of the people is greater than the people in power. And I see -- on both of these issues, the American public has shifted dramatically to do commonsense things that protect and affirm individual rights, but also give us safety and security...
STEPHANOPOULOS: One issue that actually is moving in congress right, or seems to be moving in Congress, immigration reform. We only have a couple of minutes left. But Jeff Zeleny, it does appear there was a breakthrough on this issue trying to get a bipartisan immigration proposal just this weekend?
ZELENY: Right. And this is a big deal. This has been historically one of the key sticking points here -- the guest worker program. And unions, big labor, has always been opposed to this. So there was an agreement reached Friday night between the labor coalition and the business coalition over this guest worker program. Senator Schumer was sort of brokering this.
So now they're taking it back to the gang of eight. Senator Marco Rubio releases.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...bipartisan Senate (inaudible) legislation.
ZELENY: Senator Marco Rubio released a statement just this morning. And he is saying this sounds good, but hold on a little bit. Conservatives and Republicans are slightly uneasy of looking like this is being pushed through. They still want to have some debate on this. But this is a big deal.
So when Congress comes back next week, one of these big immigration...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ...political suicide for the Republicans if they don't really...
STEPHANOPOULOS: If they don't do it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: If they don't go along with immigration. I mean, as you head into 2014, the Republican Party is a values challenged party. They have big problems on immigration, on same-sex marriage, on gun reform, commonsense gun reform. So I think this is going to be a test case
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we only have 30 seconds left.
The Republican leadership seems to have gotten this message in both the House and I think the Senate.
DOWD: Well, it's taken a series of the fact is, the fastest rising group in this country is Latinos. If they don't figure out a way on how to deal with them and be in relationship with Latinos, they're going to be a minority party for the next generation. That's the problem in this situation. They understand they have to do something. They're trying to keep their base happy. But they know they have to do something on this issue.
KING: There still is a real issue of border security. And eight guys in a room saying the border is going to be secure is not enough. For 27 years, they have not been able to secure the border. If that can be done, then I think you'll find strong support for it.
I'm for immigration. I grew up in an immigrant neighborhood. But the fact is, the border security is real. It's not some made-up issue. And even if we have to resist the zeitgeist. We'll have to do it.
BOOKER: But there's other facets (ph) to security as well. There's security -- there are immigrants in our country who are being abused by unscrupulous employers violating their human rights, there's victims of crime in my city. I see it all the time, immigrants are targeted. And they're afraid to come forward to even report the crime.
These are the kind of things we also need to be talking about...
KING: I agree with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to have to be the last word. Thank you all very much. We'll be right back.
CARDINAL DOLAN:Easter is always a time for renewed hope, a sense of promise and – and – confidence. But this year's special because this – of Pope Francis. As we watch him – and it's clear to me that the world is watching – you got it, he brings us back to the simplicity, the sincerity, just the raw basic goodness of the Gospel.
Look what he did on Thursday, you know. He washed the feet of – of, who, 12 inmates, 12 young juvenile delinquents, imitating Jesus at the Last Supper and washing the feet of his disciples. And he's constantly reminding us that religion is not only about faith, what we believe – you bet it is – but it's also about how we live, especially in service to the ones Jesus called –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So this symbolism, this – not – not wearing the fur-lined cape, not wearing the gold cross, living in the – the more simple apartments, you believe that really matters.
CARDINAL DOLAN: I do. And from what I'm hearin', I – that's not part of the substance of the papacy, we know that. But it does – you know, these signs, these symbols have meaning. They wouldn't matter much to me, but from what I hear folks sayin', they matter a lot to people.
And they're sayin', "Wow, we have a pope who – who seems to d – craves simplicity and bein' with people, and the poorer the better." And as one person said to me, "He reminds us a lot of Jesus." And I said, "Well, I hope so, 'cause that's his job description." So, apparently, those things mean a lot to people.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You say he reminds us of Jesus that is the job description of a pope. I wanna ask you ab – you know, we all saw that remarkable picture as well of him with Pope Emeritus –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Yeah.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – Benedict. And on the one hand, so warm. On the other, I had to confess – and I'm an outsider to – to the Catholic faith, but it seemed a little unsettling –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Yes.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – two popes in the same room.
CARDINAL DOLAN: I think it was unsettling to a lot of us, because we're just not used to having two – two popes, even though one of them is retired. But I don't think it was unsettling to him. They almost tried to out-class each other in showing deference to one another. And that's not bad.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Take us inside the conclave as much as you can. I know you can't –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Sure.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – speak much about it. But – but describe the challenge you and your fellow cardinals felt you were meeting.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, y – you know what – what it was, George? What was very important is the time before the conclave. The conclave is relatively brief. It was –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Very brief.
CARDINAL DOLAN: – only 28 hours, right? The time before, that's when I was actually more nervous, believe it or not, because I felt the – the burden of getting to know my brother cardinals better.
Once I entered the conclave, George, and the – the veterans, the cardinals who had been at a conclave before, said, "Tim, relax, because you get to know them. And by the time you enter the conclave, you will have settled on two or three people that you think – with whom you would be at peace being the next – successor to St. Peter." And that was true.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what I wanna –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – ask you.
CARDINAL DOLAN: You wanna ask who the three were.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. (LAUGHTER)
CARDINAL DOLAN: Go ahead and ask, but I'm not gonna answer. (LAUGHTER)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you were at peace with your decision when you walked into the conclave.
CARDINAL DOLAN: I was at peace with – with – the people I had in mind. And I was extraordinarily at peace with the final decision.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And now that Pope Francis is in place, what is the challenge facing him, the biggest challenge facing him as leader –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – of more than one billion Catholics?
CARDINAL DOLAN: You know what I think it is? And actually – I spoke about this in the congregations before the conclave. I think the biggest challenge facing him, George, is to reconnect Jesus and his Church.
There's now a growing cleavage between Jesus and his Church. You reported some of the statistics. People will say, "I don't have any problem with Jesus. I got some problems with the Church." And probably, I think his greatest pastoral challenge is going to be – to reconnect Jesus and his church.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: A special challenge here in the United States.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we recently did a poll of American Catholics. Sixty percent believe the Catholic Church is out of touch with their concerns.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you – how do you address those?
CARDINAL DOLAN: So – I think – when I hear people, though, it depends on what concerns they're talkin' about. Sometimes by nature, the Church has gotta be out of touch with concerns, because we're always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless, okay?
Our major challenge is to continue in a credible way to present the eternal concerns to people in a timeless attractive way.
And sometimes there is a disconnect – between what they're going through and what Jesus and his Church is teaching. And that's a challenge for us.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you know, especially this week – because it's been at the top of the news – for many gay and lesbian Americans –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – gay and lesbian Catholics, they feel unwelcome –
CARDINAL DOLAN: They do.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – in the Church. And what do you say as a minister, as a pastor – to a gay couple that comes to you and say, "We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – want to raise a family in faith."
CARDINAL DOLAN: Sure.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you say to them?
CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, the first thing I'd say to them is, "I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God's image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you're entitled to friendship." But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.
We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven't been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we're not an anti-anybody. We're in the defense of what God has taught us about – about marriage. And it's one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life. We gotta do better to try to dis – take that away from being anti-anybody. And – and I admit –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you do that?
CARDINAL DOLAN: We haven't been too good –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, how do you do that?
CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, I don't know. We're still – we're – we're tryin'. We're tryin' our best to do it. We gotta listen to people, like the couple that you just described – that say, "We don't feel comfortable here."
Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me. But you got a point. Sometimes we're not as successful or as effective as we can be in translating that warm embrace into also teaching what God has told us about the way He wants us –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And that challenge –
CARDINAL DOLAN: – to live.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – you face in so many different ways. Because as you just mentioned, not only do you have the rise of people who are spiritual but not religion – religious, but also here in the United States the fastest growing group are those with no religion at all.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Yeah.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you open your doors so people feel that they can have a pathway back to God?
CARDINAL DOLAN: That, too, is a challenge. Now, what I'm afraid is that that's afflicting society in general. That's afflicting families. That's afflicting – communities. People want privacy. People crave isolation. We're hearin' parents say that they can't even get their kids to talk anymore.
They're – they're tweeting one another. So, this – kinda this craving of individualism, being alone, be – aloofness, that's afflicting all of culture, all of society. We're feelin' it in the Church, too, because we're not about "me." We're about "us." We're about the "our." We say "Our Father." But society is saying, "It's me, myself and I." And we're saying, "Unh-uh (NEGATIVE). It's us. It's we." And that's a tough – that's a tough sell in – in society.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You have become one of the most prominent voices in American Catholicism –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Thanks.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – right now.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Thank you.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And – no – no surprise you were mentioned often as a possible pope going in to the conclave. But I – the question I have about that is, did you find over the course of those discussions that this whole idea that having an American pope is simply out of the question because America is this great superpower? Is that receding?
CARDINAL DOLAN: I think it is. I think it is – George. Now, beforehand, you know, I – I said I thought that was still there.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Uh-huh (AFFIRM). Yeah.
CARDINAL DOLAN: And actually that there was some wisdom to that, that –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you thought you had no chance.
CARDINAL DOLAN: – that the, which I still believe, and obviously, that was – that was correct. (LAUGHTER) But I told ya so. So – but – but I did believe that – probably the wisdom that would say, "You shouldn't have the leader of the world's greatest spiritual power from a country that's the – the world's greatest earthly power."
I said, "You know, that – that's a wise thing." I don't think my brother cardinals believe that anymore. We're just looking for a good pastor, a good communicator.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So, maybe one day.
CARDINAL DOLAN: – a holy man. Maybe one day there would be a pope from the United States. So.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Nelson Mandela, also on our minds – this week. You know, back in the hospital right now. And there is a man who exemplified for millions around the globe – and especially in South Africa – the power of forgiveness.
CARDINAL DOLAN: You – you bet he did. I'm prayin' – with and for him. I had the honor of meeting him once. And what – the word that comes to mind when you speak of a giant like Nelson Mandela is reconciliation. And that's a good thing to remember about Easter.
We say that Jesus came to reconcile the world. He wanted to embrace the world and bring them to his Father. And the world took those hands and put 'em on a cross, because they don't like bein' reconciled. Nelson Mandela was one of those who could take his hands and embrace a nation. The world is in his debt, because he taught us the power of reconciliation and forgiveness.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Another powerful Easter message, the message of joy. And you exemplify that –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Thank you.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – every day.
CARDINAL DOLAN: Thank you – thank you, George. It's good bein' with you.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for coming in.
CARDINAL DOLAN: A blessed Easter.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Obama at this year's prayer breakfast on the search for common ground. We're going to take up that challenge now, discuss the role of religion in our civic debates with a distinguished panel of scholars and pastors. Sojourners President Jim Wallis, author of the brand new book "On God's Side." Author and atheist Susan Jacoby. Her new book "The Great Agnostic" on Robert Ingersoll is out soon. Islamic scholar Reza Aslan. Reverend Calvin Butts of New York's Abyssinian Baptist Church. And Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Welcome to all of you. Happy Easter to those of you celebrating. And Jim, let me begin with you. I read your book this week, and you are a political activist, a preacher and a writer, but you took some time off during the last election and saw politics as a spectator, and you write that a lot of the motivation for this book came out of your depression from watching our politics.
WALLIS: I wrote the book on sabbatical, so every day I'd write and pray and read and study. And at night, I'd watch the news cycle, and it was depressing. And I realized we'd lost something very important. It's an ancient idea called the common good. And it says we can't take care of ourselves and our party and our side. We've got to take care of each other and our neighbor, and that is the foundation for all of it. That's the common good. It's in our religious traditions. It's in our secular democratic traditions. This common good idea I think could bring us back together. And I see it happening.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it comes at a time when we have more polarization than ever, it seems, in our politics. You and Richard Land probably have polar opposites of politics, I'd say that, on most issues, yet you have come together at least on –
WALLIS: On immigration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On the issue of immigration. So how does that work?
LAND: Well, I think first of all, when you're looking at issues of the common good, Jim's a Christian, I'm a Christian. We may have different emphases and different perceptions of parts of scripture, but we both understand that there is a difference between the authority of scripture and our understanding of scripture, and we have to be humble about our understanding of scripture, and we both agree that immigration reform is tearing the social fabric of the country. It needs to be done. The lack of doing it is causing havoc that will be difficult to repair in the social fabric of the country. And there is a way to do it. And the way to do it that's fair and a way to do it that will heal the country. And so we found that evangelicals and Catholics and Orthodox and Jews and Muslims, people from all across the religious spectrum and people of no particular faith have come together in what I think is a pretty impressive coalition to say that our – it's time for our leaders to stop acting like politicians who are concerned about the next election and start acting like statesmen who are concerned about the next generation, and get comprehensive immigration reform done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Dr. Butts, you actually have a similar but opposite experience with another major issue in the news this week, gay marriage. Your normal political allies have been strongly supportive of gay marriage. It is something that your faith does not believe in.
BUTTS: Well, it is something that we don't believe in, in terms of what we learn from the Bible. But in terms of men and women having their rights as citizens and human beings, we certainly affirm that. You should have every right as a citizen of this nation and every right as a human being to enjoy the freedom that we believe God has given you. The choice is yours, and I should not stand in the way of you making that choice. However, I have to extol what I believe my religion teaches, and it does not teach that a marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is God's divine imperative. But I can't stand in the way of that, and I think that the Supreme Court should not stand in the way of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's the place where you have a strict separation between what you practice inside your church and what you believe should happen in the public sphere.
BUTTS: Well, I have to support that in the civil society, because otherwise I would not be a good citizen of my great nation and a participant in this great experiment in democracy. However, I choose to believe the book upon which I build my life.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I assume some of that is music to your ears. You wrote a fascinating article, Susan Jacoby, in the New York Times coming out of Newtown called "The Blessings of Atheism," and one of the things you write about is that atheists and nonbelievers often feel intimidated from speaking out on public issues as atheists.
JACOBY: I think we heard almost nothing and no secular chaplain, a person representing a secular organization, asked to be at the Newtown ceremony. I asked several of them about it, and they felt they were kind of afraid to. They felt that it would be – it would be taken the wrong way, as if atheists were trying to horn in on this ceremony, which was basically religious.
Let me say, what Dr. Butts said is music to my ears. If all religious people trying to influence politics could separate what they teach and preach in church, and which of course every religious institution and person has the right to state their convictions, just as I do. But the problem is, Newtown was a perfect example of it. There were people sitting in that audience obviously, if we believe the polls, that 20 percent of people don't belong to any church, and some of those people are atheists and some of them aren't. It's hard to tell because atheist is still quite a pejorative, but when President Obama, unlike some atheists who are sitting here, some will tell you that they objected to his mentioning religion at all at that service, which I think is ridiculous. There were a lot of religious people there. Religion is a solace for religious people in grief. But he could very easily have expanded that to say, whether we are religious or non-religious, he could have said that we are all united in our grief, and not made it exclusively, and he should not have been talking about Jesus Christ when some of the parents who lost children are people who don't believe in Jesus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he often has done that, and he even did that at the National Prayer Breakfast, talked about nonbelievers, and that is the fastest really growing group, people who are not affiliated with any particular religion right now in the United States. I want to talk about more in a minute, but first, let me bring in Reza Aslan as well, because I want to get you to respond to a notion that Jim brings up in his book when he was talking about the rise of Islamophobia, which you have also written about. The need to surprise our enemies with acts of good will and grace.
ASLAN: This is a fact. I mean, anti-Muslim sentiment in this country is at unprecedented levels. About two-thirds of Americans believe that Muslims should not have the same First Amendment rights as other Americans. About one third of Americans believe that Muslims should be forced to carry special ID's that identify them as Muslims. That's 100 million Americans who believe that.
Now, the important thing is, and Jim will tell you this, that this isn't Christian or Jewish based Islamophobia. This Islamophobia has much more to do with certain right-wing fringe groups that have managed to enter into the mainstream. The tragedy, however, is that Jews and Christians, particularly Jews and Catholics, who have dealt with this exact kind of xenophobia and bigotry in this country in the past, have not been the groundswell for standing up against Muslims in this country. Jim, of course, has been one of the leading voices condemning Islamophobia. But the important thing for, I think, religious communities, regardless of where you pray or how you worship, is that we have to recognize that all peoples in this country have a right to worship as they please, to believe as they please, and if we don't stand up for each other, then we are not actually being true to the values of our own faith.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that gets to the point, it seems like so much of this search for common ground, Jim, is about how we practice our politics.
WALLIS: The largest affiliation now growing in the country is none of the above. A lot of young people. What I find is when people from the faith community, when religious people do what their religions say and say what they say, two things happen. People are surprised, and then they are attracted. I wrote this book to spark hope, to spark a national conversation on the common good. It's in all of our traditions and secular as well. The common good is the right question. It's about what does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves. That's the golden rule, and that is the foundation for the common good. Who is my neighbor? Becomes the question here. And once we apply that to the economy, the role of government, to democracy, even to our households, how we live as parents and moms and dads and kids, I think this common good framework could change our politics. It could really change --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But a lot of easier on applying it to our households, taking personal responsibility, than when you try to translate those principles into actual public policy.
LAND: Well, I don't know. Look, you can disagree without being disagreeable. You know, and as Christians, we are commended to love our enemies, not just our neighbors, but our enemies. And you know, we can stand up for our convictions without demonizing those who are opposed to us or those who disagree with us. That's what -- supposed to be what America is about. We're supposed to be able to disagree and respect each other's personhood and respect each other's dignity and agree that, you know, one of the wonderful things about this country is no issue is forever settled. If we don't like the way the issue is settled now, we can come back and make a better argument in the next election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet it seems, Dr. Butts, that that is the first thing lost, that kind of civility, in the heat of a political campaign or any day you get online and see all the hateful political comments.
BUTTS: Well, that's often because people do not practice what they preach. And it is difficult to translate your religious belief into public policy. I think what you have to do and one of the things I'm eager to do with Ms. Jacoby, for instance, is to apply ideas, our thoughts, our ideologies, in the marketplace. I mean, the great apostle Paul went to Mars Hill, and he argued there for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he won people to his side. But then you hear the arguments for the unknown god or the god that is denied or the god that is rejected or not believed. But there are things that come out of this discussion that are helpful to both.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you feel the need to proselytize?
JACOBY: The need to proselytize in the sense that I want to convert people to atheism? No. The mission, the mission, if you could call it that, of the atheist is not to convert people. It is to put forward our ideas in the public square, and we have had some success. And I'm not talking only recently, but over 100 years, to talk about the importance of science and reason in public policy. And there are many religious people who believe in that, but there are many religious people who are opposed to fact and evidence based thinking.
And here is the point about the problem with religion and politics. It's not that religious groups shouldn't have an active role in presenting their viewpoints, as we all must. It's that all public policy has to have a rationale that goes beyond the religious. Because saying, for example, gay marriage is wrong because my god tells me so, or a certain kind of immigration policy is wrong because my god tells me so, or as was in the past, slavery is right because the Bible upholds slavery. And as we well know, religion was just as much on the side of slavery in America as other -- there is no such thing as religion. There are only certain kinds of religions, and how often it is when people say, well, you -- this needs to be in public policy because God says so. How much God sounds like our own voice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's also the problem of religious extremism, and of course you have to confront that in the Islamic world so often. One of the things that Jim writes is that it's important to -- the best way to fight that is by undermining it from the inside, not trying to smash it.
ASLAN: That's right. And this goes back to the conversation that we've been having. We have to recognize that religion is often more a matter of identity than it is a matter of beliefs and practices. Certainly, beliefs and practices and important, but it's about who you are as a human being, how you see yourself in an indeterminate world, your relationship to God.
I'll give you an example. The latest Pew poll says seven out of 10 Americans identify as Christian. Now, think about this for a moment, gentlemen and ladies. Does that mean seven out of 10 Americans go to church on Sunday, or that seven out of 10 Americans read the Bible regularly, or that seven out of 10 Americans can tell you anything about Jesus except that he was born in a manger and died on a cross? No. The vast majority of that seven out of 10 is actually making a statement of identity, and as a statement of identity, it encompasses your politics, your economic views, your social views, your world views. It's not just about what you believe, it's how you understand the world around you. So of course religion is going to have a role in politics in the world. And yes, it's problematic, as Susan says, because religion is often about absolutes, and politics is about compromise, or at least it's supposed to be about compromise. But what Jim was saying is absolutely correct. So how do we then counteract the negative effects of religion? Not by excising it from society, not by removing it from politics, but by making sure that those voices of moderation, those voices of pluralism, those voices that are dedicated to what America stands for rise above the voices of extremists.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And embedded in, a Christian value, Jim, humility.
WALLIS: In fact, the problem with religion is a quote from Lincoln that I put right on the cover of the book. He says, "My concern is not whether God is on our side. My greatest concern is to be on God's side." And that flips the question, and that leads us to that kind of humility. To ask how we can change our views, our values, our politics, our ideology. How do you move past the vitriol, the hatred in our median (ph) politics, and find what 's right and what works, on immigration, on gun violence, on so many issues. If we can come together and get beyond left, (inaudible) right, go deeper. What does that mean?
STEPHANOPOULOS: We want to go deeper. I wish we had more time to do it today, but I want to have you all back. It's a fascinating conversation. Happy Easter to all of you.
ERIC DRAPER: My job was not to be a distraction. My job was to purely document. And it was a very unique role // to have that much access to the President, // and not to be a participant in the meetings, but to be an observer. // I have a chapter on family, which included lots of images of President Bush with his father // Whenever he and his dad were together // it was magical to me. // 9/11 was just off the charts. It was a roller coaster of emotion. // And I knew that I had a job to do that day, to focus on capturing those moments. // And I used the camera as a distraction. // Well, one day in the Oval Office - I believe this was in 2002 - a box arrived, and it was a gift. // He opens the box, and he pulls out this boxing robe. // And on the back, it had his name "George W. Bush." So of course, he tries it on. And he's looking around for someone to show it to, and so in that image, he's opening the Oval Office door looking through the hallway, just to see if anyone's walking around, because he really wanted to show it off. // The president would visit injured troops a lot. // In this visit, he just presented the soldier who was injured in Afghanistan with the Purple Heart, and he reached over to kiss his forehead. And this really illustrates the compassion that the president had -- has, still has -- for the troops that have given the ultimate sacrifice. // And in this image // the late Coretta Scott King and her children, and she's holding the plans, at the time, for the MLK memorial. // Coretta Scott King asked the president, "Can you pray with us?" And the president said, "Of course." And they joined hands. // Those are the moments that - that I love capturing: the surprise, unscripted moments.