By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
CNN: Pope Benedict makes first appearance since resignation news
Huge crowds in the Vatican cheered Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he made his first public appearance since announcing his resignation at the end of the month. He thanked the Roman Catholic faithful in several languages and said it was not appropriate for him to continue as pope. He appeared tired but not visibly unwell as he sat and read his remarks off several sheets of paper. Benedict also celebrated an Ash Wednesday mass marking the beginning of Lent at St. Peter's Basilica in the afternoon.
CNN: Tibetan sets himself on fire in front of shrine in Nepal
A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule. Self-immolation began as a form of protest among Tibetans in China in February 2009, when a young monk set himself ablaze. In March 2011, another young monk followed in his footsteps, becoming the first to die. Scores of others have since followed suit.
CNN: Comedian Sarah Silverman's sister, niece detained at Israel's Western Wall
Anat Hoffman had no idea who comedian Sarah Silverman was until Silverman's sister and niece were detained with her Sunday in Jerusalem for wearing prayer shawls as they prayed at the Western Wall. Police detained 10 women for "performing a religious act contrary to the local customs." The group of women, who call themselves the Women of the Wall, went to pray in Jewish shawls known as tallitot that Israeli law says only Jewish men can wear there.
Belief on TV:
Religion News Service: American cardinals who will vote for the next pope
There will be 11 Americans among the 118 Roman Catholic cardinals who will convene in the Sistine Chapel in mid-March to elect the next pope. They range from leaders of major archdioceses to retired prelates to top officials in the Vatican bureaucracy. Here’s a look at the American “princes of the church” who will vote for the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics:
Reuters: Discreet papal campaign began before Pope Benedict’s resignation shock
Pope Benedict may have shocked the world by announcing his resignation on Monday, but some cardinals apparently started maneuvering for the succession as long as two years ago. Papal elections are among the world’s most mysterious, with no declared candidates and more bluffing than a high-stakes poker game. No cardinal can openly campaign for a job whose election is said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
BBC Analysis: Analysis: What is the role of a modern pope?
The Pope's vocation is spiritual, but one that requires not merely vigour in prayer but also in intellectual and political leadership for Catholics around the world. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his resignation address, this is due in large part to the needed public and political interventions in a world "subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith". Health and vitality, Benedict argues, are needed in a papal vocation, which also requires profound experience and wisdom.
Opinion of the Day:
CNN Opinion: Why the next pope should be African
Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, was asked last week at the celebration of Black History Month in Toronto if he thought that the time was ripe for an African pope. His answer attracted much cheering from the crowd of over 500 Catholics of African descent. He said: "The time for an African pope was ripe even in the time of the Apostolic Fathers in the first century of the church." "I am not saying that I wish to be considered for the papacy, but the fact that the Gospel is to be preached to all peoples, languages, and races means that the highest leadership of the church should be open to anyone from any race, language and nation. I will not be surprised to see an African pope in my lifetime."
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CNN: Why did the Pope resign?
The questions reverberated from the Vatican to every corner of the Catholic world and left a billion members scratching their heads over something not seen since 1415 – why is the pope resigning now? Pope Benedict XVI, 85, said Monday that it was because of his age. "I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he read in Latin to a group of cardinals gathered to examine causes for canonization.