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Arson blamed for fire at iconic Barcelona church
April 19th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Arson blamed for fire at iconic Barcelona church

(CNN) - About 1,500 tourists were evacuated Tuesday from the Sagrada Familia church, a popular destination for visitors to Barcelona, Spain, after a man set a fire inside, authorities said.

The fire occurred in the church's crypt, a section always open and used for religious purposes. It caused no injuries and unknown damage to the crypt, authorities said.

Investigators arrested the man, a municipal spokeswoman said.

The church is closed to the public and will open when it is deemed safe to visit, the spokeswoman said.

The Sagrada Familia, or "holy family" church, is still under construction after more than 100 years. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, an architect well-known for many buildings he designed in Barcelona. Only one tower and most of one facade at the church had been completed by the time he died ni 1926.

Gaudi planned the church to have 18 towers - 12 for the apostles, four for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and the tallest for Jesus.

Read the full story about the arson at the Sagrada Familia church.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Europe • Spain

April 19th, 2011
05:46 PM ET

Ex-Belgian bishop admits to more abuse

A former Belgian bishop admits to abusing a family member. CNN's Atika Shubert reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belgium • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Europe • Sex abuse

April 19th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Selling bread for Passover? There's an app for that

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - The emails are flooding into Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s Washington office from around the world - London, Zurich, New York, Mexico - all with one goal: to have the rabbi sell all the bread products in their homes in time for Passover.

As Passover approaches, orthodox Jews strip their homes of all bread products, called chametz in Hebrew. Cereal, breads, even grain-based alcohol is consumed, destroyed or sold - through a rabbi - to a non-Jewish neighbor.

Explain it to me: Understanding Passover

After Passover, the seller can buy the chametz back. In almost all cases, the bread products never physically change hands but are put away under lock and key in the seller’s home.

Traditionally, the seller fills out a form for the rabbi. This year, Herzfeld decided to embrace the latest technology and, with the help of a member of his congregation, develop mobile apps to accomplish the task.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • DC • Judaism • Kosher • United States

April 19th, 2011
12:42 PM ET

Festival proves magic is in the matzo ball memories

By Jerry Simonson, CNN Senior Photojournalist

Lauderhill, Florida (CNN) - As Jewish families around the world sit down at the Seder dinner table to commemorate the Passover holiday, conversations will no doubt turn to an age-old debate. No, not the question of tax cuts versus tax increase. It's a discussion that has as many diverse opinions as any political dispute: "Who makes the best matzo balls?"

In the quest to answer this question the South Florida Golden Matzo Bowl was held. Among the judges was a Catholic priest responsible for choosing the winner in the "Father Knows Best Award."

Local chefs took up the challenge and brought their version of matzo balls to the Forest Trace community center in Lauderhill, Florida. Among the other titles to be awarded were "Most Like Mama," "Chef's Choice," and the ultimate prize, a chance to be crowned "Best All-Around Matzo Ball."

Residents lined up to taste the food and let their voices be heard, casting votes for the "People's Choice" prize. A matzo-ball-juggling chef on stilts worked the room with his rubber chicken; it was "game on."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Florida • Food • Holidays • Judaism • United States

What's it like to be crucified?
On Good Friday in the Philippines, men will be nailed to a cross to celebrate Good Friday.
April 19th, 2011
08:13 AM ET

What's it like to be crucified?

By Miguel Candela, CNN

On Good Friday in the Philippines men will whip their backs until they are bloody and allow themselves to be crucified.

It is a decades-old practice that takes place predominantly in Pampanga by devout Catholics as a penance or to give thanks to God.

I was there last year to meet the people who take part and to document this colorful and intense experience.

Read the full story here of What it's like to be crucified?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity

My Take: Can Zipcars save my dying church?
April 19th, 2011
07:57 AM ET

My Take: Can Zipcars save my dying church?

Editor's Note: Mark Barger Elliott is senior pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and author of "Creative Styles of Preaching." His blog Faith in the World identifies stories of hope from around the world and places where religion intersects everyday life.

By Mark Barger Elliott, Special to CNN

The prospect of death typically prompts action.

Doctors offer experimental trials. Tuna casseroles appear on doorsteps. Families ask that loved ones to be placed on church prayer lists.

As a pastor, I’ve seen that when time grows short, people feel compelled to do something. Best-selling books such as "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" owe their popularity to that human instinct.

I’ve thought of this lately as I’ve begun to watch my church die.

Not the local church I serve in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but the larger church of which I’m a part – what we know as the mainline church.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion • Protestant

President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims
The President held an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House Tuesday
April 19th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama offered his thoughts and prayers Tuesday to victims of weekend storms that spawned dozens of tornadoes that cut a swath through the South, killing more than 40 people.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been affected down there," the president said during an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House.

The twisters hit 12 states in the South, cutting a path of destruction from Oklahoma to Maryland between Thursday and Saturday. At least 45 people were killed, including 22 from hard-hit North Carolina.

Politics were not on the menu during the prayer breakfast. It was the second year the president has held such an Easter prayer event.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • DC • Food • Leaders • Pastors • Politics • Protestant • United States

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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