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February 26th, 2013
07:56 AM ET

Vatican reveals Pope Benedict's new title

By the CNN Wires staff

(CNN) – Pope Benedict XVI will keep the title "his holiness" once he retires and will be called "pontiff emeritus," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican on Tuesday.

Benedict surprised the world when he announced this month that he would retire effective this Thursday.

The Roman Catholic Church's cardinals will meet at the Vatican to elect a successor. The election is expected to start in March, though the exact date isn't yet known.

Read the full story here

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts
February 25th, 2013
05:13 PM ET

Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A coalition of noteworthy Christian leaders and thinkers is asking President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to protect the poor from the forced spending cuts that are due to take effect this week.

The group’s open letter frames budget decisions as a moral question for lawmakers and asks them to stop the political brinksmanship.

“Important choices must be made: we must weigh the benefits of tax credits for low-income people and tax breaks for high income people; of nutrition assistance to low-income families and subsidies to agricultural businesses,” the letter says. “Congress can and must develop a balanced and thoughtful path forward that protects the most vulnerable and preserves economic opportunity.”

The group is called Circle of Protection,  and it goes on to ask lawmakers to “maintain a Circle of Protection around effective programs focused on hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.”

Founded nearly two years ago, the groups boasts a politically diverse group of almost 100 Christian leaders, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jim Wallis, president of the group Sojourners.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Politics • Poverty

February 25th, 2013
09:52 AM ET

'Gay lobby' behind pope's resignation? Not likely

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN Senior Vatican Analyst

Suffice it to say that of all possible storylines to emerge, heading into the election of a new pope, sensational charges of a shadowy "gay lobby" (possibly linked to blackmail), whose occult influence may have been behind the resignation of Benedict XVI, would be right at the bottom of the Vatican's wish list.

Proof of the Vatican's irritation came with a blistering statement Saturday complaining of "unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories," even suggesting the media is trying to influence the papal election.

Two basic questions have to be asked about all this. First, is there really a secret dossier about a network of people inside the Vatican who are linked by their sexual orientation, as Italian newspaper reports have alleged? Second, is this really why Benedict XVI quit?

The best answers, respectively, are "maybe" and "probably not."

It's a matter of record that at the peak of last year's massive Vatican leaks crisis, Benedict XVI created a commission of three cardinals to investigate the leaks. They submitted an eyes-only report to the pope in mid-December, which has not been made public.

FULL STORY
- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

February 25th, 2013
09:34 AM ET

Scotland's Roman Catholic archbishop, mired in abuse claim, resigns

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN Senior Vatican Analyst

Rome (CNN) - Scotland's Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has resigned amid allegations that he abused four men studying to be priests in the 1980s.

It is the second potential scandal to emerge amid preparations for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI this week and the concave to select a successor.

In addition to O'Brien's resignation, Italian media has been abuzz in recent days with allegations that gay clergy may have made themselves vulnerable to blackmail by male prostitutes. That has set off speculation - denied by the Vatican - that a brewing scandal may have triggered Benedict's resignation.

O'Brien said he submitted his resignation to the pope months ago, citing his upcoming 75th birthday and his health, according to a statement released by the Scottish Catholic Media Office. Benedict accepted his resignation last week, the Vatican said Monday.

The resignation follows a Sunday report by the British newspaper The Observer that three priests and one former priest leveled allegations against O'Brien that date back 30 years.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Europe • Pope Benedict XVI • United Kingdom • Vatican

February 24th, 2013
08:02 AM ET

Pope Benedict leads his last 'Angelus'

By Ben Brumfield and Ben Wedeman, CNN

Vatican City (CNN) – Pope Benedict XVI delivered his final public prayer ceremony Sunday to a crowd of thousands at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

And he explained his decision to step down.

"Thank you for your affection," the pope told the crowd as he appeared at the window of his apartment overlooking the square.

As is customary, he opened the weekly Angelus prayer with a short sermon.

Benedict spoke on the Transfiguration of Christ, one of the key moments in Jesus' life on Earth, when, according to the church, he took three disciples to pray on a mountain. During his prayers, Jesus was miraculously changed and filled with light.

The crowd interrupted Benedict with rousing applause, as he told them that God wanted him to do the same.

Read the full story here

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

February 23rd, 2013
05:14 PM ET

Key moments in pope's resignation

CNN's Becky Anderson looks at the key events and reactions since Pope Benedict resigned.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

February 23rd, 2013
04:48 PM ET

Vatican denies swirling rumors as pope prepares to step down

By Hada Messia, Ben Wedeman and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Rome (CNN) - The Vatican sought Saturday to tamp down rumors involving sex, money and gay priests that have been swirling in the Italian media and have been linked by some to Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign.

The strongly-worded denial came on the eve of the pope's last Angelus blessing, expected to draw huge crowds of the faithful, before he stands down on Thursday.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said it was "deplorable" that as the time for the Roman Catholic cardinals to elect a new pope approaches, a rash of "often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" has appeared.

Such unfounded stories "cause serious damage to persons and institutions," he said, and are an attempt to influence the cardinals' free will in the election "through public opinion."

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

Records detail cardinal's failings in abuse scandal
Cardinal Roger Mahony will be deposed Saturday, then head to Rome to vote on next pope.
February 22nd, 2013
07:15 PM ET

Records detail cardinal's failings in abuse scandal

By Wayne Drash, CNN

(CNN) – Told by two families that a visiting priest was suspected of molesting their children in 1988, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not immediately notify police. Instead, Cardinal Roger Mahony’s right-hand man alerted the priest – a heads-up that allowed him to flee the country for Mexico.

He remained in the priesthood there for another 21 years, allegedly continuing to molest. He has denied the accusations and remains a fugitive.

Newly released church documents show the behind-the-scenes machinations of top officials within the Los Angeles archdiocese making decisions on how to deal with pedophile priests, hindering police investigations and saying, in private, something completely different than what they said in public.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: California • Catholic Church • Mexico • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

Pope's Twitter account to close as he leaves office, Vatican Radio says
Pope Benedict XVI clicks on a tablet to send his first twitter message at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, December 12, 2012.
February 22nd, 2013
03:01 PM ET

Pope's Twitter account to close as he leaves office, Vatican Radio says

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

(CNN) - At the same time as Pope Benedict XVI leaves office on February 28, his Twitter presence as @Pontifex will also come to an end, according to Vatican Radio.

The news may come as a sad blow to the more than 2 million people who've signed up to follow his tweets in nine languages since his account was launched with fanfare two-and-a-half months ago.

About 1.5 million of those people follow the English language feed, with nearly 700,000 following him in Spanish and just short of 335,000 in Italian. About 22,500 people follow @Pontifex in Latin.

The account will be closed to coincide with the 85-year-old pope's formal departure from office at 8 p.m. local time, Vatican Radio said.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI

February 21st, 2013
08:50 PM ET

Milwaukee lawsuits shadow N.Y. archbishop

By Ted Rowlands and Kathleen Johnston, CNN

(CNN)–He's the top Roman Catholic figure in the United States, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the princes of the church who will decide on a new pope.

But Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is now under fire for how his old archdiocese in Milwaukee shifted money as it faced lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse by priests in Wisconsin.

Dolan sat for a deposition with lawyers for some of the victims on Wednesday, the New York archdiocese confirmed. He was Milwaukee's archbishop from 2002 to 2009, a period in which the archdiocese moved $55 million into a fund for cemetery maintenance and as much as $74 million to a fund for individual parishes.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

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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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