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November 26th, 2013
10:21 AM ET

Pope Francis: No more business as usual

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church - including at the very top  saying the church needs to rethink rules and customs that are no longer widely understood or effective for evangelizing.

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," the Pope said in a major new statement.

"I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures," Francis added.

The Pope's address, called an "apostolic exhortation," is part mission statement, part pep talk for the world's 1.5 billion Catholics. Francis' bold language and sweeping call for change are likely to surprise even those who've grown accustomed to his unconventional papacy.

"Not everyone will like this document," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author in New York. "For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo."

And it's not just a verbal challenge, the Pope said on Tuesday.

"I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences."

Since his election in March, Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, has made headlines by decrying the iniquities of modern capitalism, embracing the poor and people with disabilities and reaching out to gays and lesbians.

At the same time, the 77-year-old pontiff has sought to to awaken a spirit of joy and compassion in the church, scolding Catholic "sourpusses" who hunt down rule-breakers and calling out a "tomb psychology" that "slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum."

"An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" the Pope said.

Officially known in Latin as "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the 85-page statement released on Tuesday is the first official document written entirely by Pope Francis. (An earlier document was co-written by Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.)

Although Francis sprinkles the statement with citations of previous popes and Catholic luminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, the new pontiff makes a bold call for the church to rethink even long-held traditions.

"In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated," the Pope said.

"Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives."

Such statements mark a sharp break from Benedict XVI, a more tradition-bound pope who focused on cleaning up cobwebs of unorthodoxy in the church.

By contrast, in "Evangelii" Francis repeats his calls for Catholics to stop "obsessing" about culture war issues and to focus more on spreading the Gospel, especially to the poor and marginalized.

READ MORE: The Pope’s bold new vision

The outside world, particularly its economic inequalities, didn't escape Francis' notice either.

In a section of "Evangelii" entitled "some challenges to today's world," he sharply criticized what he called an "idolatry of money" and "the inequality that spawns violence."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

“Meanwhile,” Francis said, “the excluded are still waiting.”

But the bulk of Francis' statement addresses the church, which, he said, should not be afraid to "get its shoes soiled by the mud of the street."

The Pope also hinted that he wants to see an end to the so-called "wafer wars," in which Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are denied Holy Communion. His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.

"Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason," Francis said.

"The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."

Even so, Francis reiterated the church's stand against abortion, defending it against critics who call such arguments "ideological, obscurantist and conservative."

"Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question," Francis said.

The Pope also reiterated previous rejections on ordaining women, saying the topic is "not open for discussion."

But that doesn't mean the church values men more than women, he said.

"We need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church," the Pope said.

Francis also said he expects other parts of the church to change, and called on Catholics to be unafraid of trying new things.

"More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving."

Francis didn't mention specific reforms, but he suggested that it could include changes at the very top of the church.

"Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy," he said.

READ MORE: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

The church's centralization, where all roads lead to Rome, and the "we've always done it this way" type of thinking have hindered Catholics' ability to minister to local people in far-flung places, Francis suggested.

"I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities," the Pope said.

Martin, the Jesuit priest and author, said he could not recall ever "reading a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating."

"The document’s main message is that Catholics should be unafraid of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel and new ways of thinking about the church."

MORE ON CNN:

The disfigured man in popular photos talks about the Pope's embrace 

Opinion – the Pope’s revolutionary message 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis

soundoff (2,437 Responses)
  1. William

    For more on what the pope is evangelizing read the novels - king of Bat'ha by Hashim; and the more important sequel - Tales from the East by Ivanhoe.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  2. Jules

    Yeah for Pope Francis. He sites the reasons I left the Catholic Church. His statement on the Eucharist is exactly right.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  3. Crosswinds

    Now it is a good thing, if the current pastor of the catholic church wants to get rid of the pomp, ceremony, and false doctrine, like praying to dead saints, and exalting mary the mother of jesus. The pope should start with himself, and get rid of the notion that he is Gods top representative on the earth. He is not Peters successor. He is just a man, and a pastor of a large denomination at best. God speaks through all believers, who are filled with the Holy Spirit. There are no special denominational tags in Heaven, just the redeemed of the Lord. The gospel is simple, that even a child can understand it. Beware of any formula, that puts Gods people in the same role, even if good. The body is made of ears, eyes, internal organs, hands, feet, etc........they are different, have different functions, but are all part of the body. The body of Christ is the same. We have One Father, and One Lord Jesus Christ, and are baptized into the same, One Holy Spirit. but we have differents roles and functions......Just look at creation.....Our God is a God of great diversity and beauty....Let us not be bound by formulas as to how God will use us to spread His message of redemption through the Cross, and in what role we serve Him.......God Bless........

    ......
    1 Corinthians 12 .........

    Spiritual Gifts

    12 Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. 2 You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. 3 So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

    4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

    7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

    One Body with Many Parts

    12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

    14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

    18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

    22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

    27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

    first are apostles,
    second are prophets,
    third are teachers,
    then those who do miracles,
    those who have the gift of healing,
    those who can help others,
    those who have the gift of leadership,
    those who speak in unknown languages.

    29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • SS

      There are several errors in your reply. Pope Francis is in a direct line of succession from St. Peter. Look it up in Wikipedia. Secondly, Catholics didn't create "denominational tags". Protestants can take credit for that mess. Lastly, go ahead and pray to "dead saints" since you will quickly find through their intercession that they are not dead in heaven. Remember, all of heaven and the angels rejoice over the one sinner who repents. They know and they care.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • Crosswinds

        Matthew 23:8-10.......

        8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ..........

        1 Timothy 2:5.........
        For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus..........

        Revelation 7:9-10.........

        9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

        “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
        and from the Lamb!”

        November 26, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • SS

          Remember: Context of the biblical passage is very important.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • joe222

          Amen.

          November 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • sal

          Then you should stop asking your friends for their prayers. Same thing.

          November 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • Crosswinds

        1 Timothy 1:4
        nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Maranatha

          May the Lord bless you for referencing his Scripture in all you do ... Way to go my brother in Christ!

          Praise our Lord Emmanuel!

          November 27, 2013 at 7:03 am |
      • joe222

        "Pope Francis is in a direct line of succession from St. Peter"

        Clearly not since the Roman Catholic church was not founded until about 350 AD. Where was the succession for more than 200 years? Not only that Jesus never appointed Peter to be the head of the church, because Jesus Christ is the head of the Body, not Peter, or any other supposed successor.

        By the way, Wikipedia is not a valid reference source, since it can be edited and changed by anyone who comes along.

        November 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • Maranatha

        Wikipedia? Really?
        Please, please, reference the Bible in your arguments. There is no such thing!
        I pray that the Lord opens your eyes so you can see...
        Lord bless!

        November 27, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Tim o

      I think your the appendix

      November 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • OwMySkull

      Wow, you need a woman or a hobby PRONTO!!

      November 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • bla

      Crosswinds, I liked a lot of what you said, to be honest with you, I believe you lose credibility when you speak in absolutes. would be great if you put I believe in front of your statements as it is really just your opinion not fact. You run the risk of being guilty of the same thing as those you are complaining about

      November 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Joe

      DO CHRISTIANS NEED ONLY THE BIBLE? According to some Christians "all I need is the Bible to learn my faith and get to heaven". Is that so? Then answer this question with ONLY the Bible: By what authority do you accept that the New Testament has 27 books? Why not 25? The Holy Spirit tells us through Scripture the list of the 12 disciples (Matthew 10), and the list of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20); but the Holy Spirit does not tell us through Scripture what is the list of books that form the New Testament. How does the Spirit teach us what are the books of the N.T.? Where do you find this Christian teaching? ( A must read : "By What Authority" by Mark Shea).

      November 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
      • Maranatha

        Let me ask you this: "Do you believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Word of God?

        November 27, 2013 at 7:09 am |
        • Gingerspal

          But the bible is the WRITTEN word of God. Those who wrote the passages down from stories they heard from others, then countless scholars translated, mistranslated, and re-translated the various books into Latin first, and then from Latin into diverse languages of the world, then back to the Greek and Aramaic languages, etc. could not have possibly been totally accurate, to say the least. Add to this ancient rites and cultural beliefs and prejudices which must be sorted out when trying to rely on the bible for ways in which to conduct one's life in order to figure out what God wants of us and to gain salvation. It's easy and comforting to say that the bible is IT in terms of belief, but, IMO, it's not as simple as that.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  4. MIchael

    I am one of the people outside of the church door. We have been blessed by this man. Unraveling the pomp and corruption is no easy task. May grace fill us all to bring about this change. Non-believers of the faith may not understand but that where the grace comes in. Dogma is not faith, faith is really following the words of our Lord. I know someone else wrote them to suit the times but, the times are a'changing. God Bless everyone.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  5. John

    Can it be? The Catholic Church is actually thinking of stepping into the 20th century? Maybe miracles do exist!

    November 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • amniculi

      Yeah. Too bad it's the 21st now. They still have some catching up to do.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • venividivici

        'Yeah. Too bad it's the 21st now. They still have some catching up to do.'

        Excellent!

        November 26, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • doobzz

      Well, they finally apologized to Galileo in 1992, so it's more like the 17th century.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  6. dave

    Prayer – Neo: prayer changed my life and the lives of my friends. If you are honest, you will admit that I know more about me than you know about me. But because you are an atheist posting online you are probably not honest or polite and I suspect you will say something obnoxious.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Weather-or-Not

      I beg your pardon? Atheists are dishonest, impolite, and obnoxious? True, some are. But so are many believers. Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Jerry Falwell all come to mind. And let's not forget Fred Phelps and his gang of bullies.

      I'm an atheist, but I like this man ... long live Pope Francis, and may he be successful in pulling the Catholic Church's collective head out of its collective behind!

      November 26, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Katrina Wogoman

      I am an atheist (According to Christians anyway...) posting online and I would like to think that I am far from obnoxious, am fairly polite unless you really tick me off, and try to be honest. I even really like this pope and read anything that comes out about him. He's making tracks, relating to people that previous popes (and all around generally religious fanatics) hate and ignore. I. hope people are taking example from him (religious or not) because he's really giving a good example of how to live in peace. Of course, some people just don't want peace... they prefer the drama and hate of their current lifestyle. There are jerks in every race, culture, religion... you shouldn't assume that we are all like that because one loud mouthed individual hiding behind the computer screen put up a good show.

      November 27, 2013 at 8:31 am |
      • john

        This is one of the most thoughful and polite comments I have read on this board. Thank you for this Katrina. I agree that the new Pope is setting a good example of how to live peacefully and he is trying to change the topic of conversation. Whether religious or not, the teachings of Christ have a great deal of truth and that should be focus of the church.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:00 am |
      • bobsmithers

        I think the Pope would like you too.

        I will pray that God blesses you and your family.

        January 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
  7. Cwhat'sNew

    A trail blazer. A brave man who risks a lot to be honest. A man who cares and loves.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  8. pamela sanderson

    Having grown up catholic (catholic schools and all) and later getting disenfranchised from the church due to the hypocrisy and scandals, and then becoming a "devout" atheist after rejecting all the mythology and dangers of organized religions, I have to admit that the current pope at least is trying to be reasonable. I am not convinced this is not simply a "p.r." campaign to stop the bloodletting of catholics leaving the church en masse but at least it sounds good. I doubt that I would ever change my beliefs, or non-beliefs really, at this stage of my life but this pope could get me to stop being so anti-catholic.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson rebukes Richard Dawkins

      Agree. I think he is starting to move forward with his new vision and the conservatives are not going to like it at first, but once their stone-cold hearts are opened, they'll embrace even more. That will drive Protestants to change – an interesting reversal of roles.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  9. the truth

    all talk, no action

    November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • dave

      u r

      November 26, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  10. cathy i

    What a breath of fresh air!

    November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • I'm Garbage

      The lies of religion are a breath of fresh air?

      November 26, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  11. doobzz

    "By contrast, in "Evangelii" Francis repeats his calls for Catholics to stop "obsessing" about culture war issues and enforcing church rules, and to focus more on spreading the Gospel, especially to the poor and marginalized."

    In other words, stop the infighting because we're hemorrhaging members. Concentrate on recruitment of new members. We'll start with the poor and uneducated because they are easy targets.

    Notice that he never mentions any progress in hunting down and exposing the pedophiles that the RCC has protected for years in his pep talks. Not much about the Vatican bank scandals either.

    Whoever is the PR person for this administration is doing a great job. Delay, deny, distract.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  12. JD

    I actually think I could sit and have a beer with this guy.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Chicago

      Will wafers and wine do?

      November 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  13. Evenstar

    As a Catholic I have seen much that the church does that is not what the bible teaches. I've never understood the defiance from the church that some of these things be done as they say. I like much of what the pope is calling for however there are parts I disagree with. One needs tread lightly here because:
    "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" Isaiah 5:20

    November 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Catholics are the ones who compiled the Bible, so they're in a better position to preach what it really says that anyone else.
      Protestants omit 7 books from the Bible while the poor Jews have to try and get by with only half of scripture.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • sonny chapman

        Wrong. Catholic compiled NOTHING that forms the Four Gospels of Jesus. We were instructed to memorize our Catechism & discouraged from reading the Gospels ourselves. Some ancient fear of losing their monopoly on a Faith.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The final canon of Scripture, thereafter recognised by all Christians for over 1,000 years, was settled on 28 August 397 AD by the Council of Carthage.

          November 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • joe222

        "The Catholics are the ones who compiled the Bible, so they're in a better position to preach what it really says that anyone else."

        Actually, no they did not. You are believing in a lie. The cannon of scripture was closed in 250 AD about 100 years before the Roman Catholic church was ever founded.
        -------
        "Protestants omit 7 books from the Bible"

        Wrong again. The Apocrypha was never part of the cannon of scripture. Roman Catholicism added the Apocrypha to justify its false doctrine of Purgatory/Indulgences and the Assumption of Mary among other false doctrines.

        November 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          That there is some fine revisionist history.
          Martin Luther never said a bad word about the Jews, right?
          Calvin was all about gender equality.
          The founding fathers were all devout Christians.
          America certainly never played any part in the Third Reich's Eugenics movement.

          November 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson rebukes Richard Dawkins

      That's absurd. Cast that aside for, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Let women serve.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • SS

      What exactly have you seen that the Church does that is not biblical? Have you checked the Catechism of the Catholic Church against your claims? Mistakes of clergy are not examples.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • Bonnie

        Praying to Mary instead of Almighty God, who is the ONLY hearer of prayer. Matthew 6:9, James 1:5. Promoting the false "trinity"doctrine fantasy, Luke 11:13, Matthew 16:16&17, and promoting reverence toward statues, crosses, pictures and dead "saints" instead of teaching that true worship means absolute obedience to the word of God. John 4:23 &24. I challange you to actually read these Scriptures and see for yourself; direct quotes from Jesus.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • SS

          You have presented biblical passages out of context.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • JLE

          Catholics do not worship Mary. This is a common mistake by many outside of the church who do not know its teachings, but choose to chastize it off of limited information. Maybe you should read the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a start. It will answer many of your preconceived notions about the Church.

          November 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Evenstar, now you need to ask yourself, who is the main rebellious opposer of Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ? Then ask yourself, who is actually running the church?

      November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  14. Dick

    The Pope is going to need to take on the Catholic Knights of Columbus. They are more like a Catholic KKK. I have never seen such hate for minorities and the poor in any organization. Clearly they are part of the old power structure the Pope talks about. Maybe there are some true Christian KofC's out there, but not here in the South.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • M

      Nonsense.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • stevie68a

      Great post. Religion wears a cloak of "love" to hide the hate. The knights of columbus are brainwashed old men who think
      they know what is right, but are totally wrong. Their time is over.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • LB

      Dick, as a recovering Catholic, I must agree with you. As a young man growing up in a Northern city and an altar boy I saw and experienced these fools. They were the most arrogant subspecies in the RC church. Perhaps it was the hats trimmed with egret feathers they wore. In retrospect, it seems to me they weren't much different than the folks who wear tinfoil hats these days.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • sonny chapman

      Amen! I'm from the South & after being urged to join the KCs by my Mother, my Dad quit when the KCs were aginst JFK becuse he was a "N" Lover. True story !

      November 26, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • Rob

        Really???? The Knights were against JFK because of that?? Strange, because JFK was a Knight. True story, check it out.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • LB

          Yes, many of them were against President Kennedy because of that. I remember it clearly. However, they did band together to help get him elected. In response to the gentleman from Canada I believe that the KC Councils many times reflected regional beliefs, mores, and prejudices. Canada is a lot different in many respects from America, but I mean that in a respectful, good way. Isn't it ironic how a geographical difference of a few hundred miles can make in one's life and beliefs?

          November 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Rob

      Well Dick I can't speak about the Knights in the South, but I am a Knight from Canada and I can tell you the Council I belong to in no way reflects the KKK. I am quite surprised at your assessment of the Knights. They were one of the first organizations in the US that allowed black men, or any minorities for that matter, into their ranks. Can you imagine in the late 1800's black men and white men sitting beside each other at a meeting. Where else would this take place, not too many places. Sorry that you have had a bad experience with the Knights but I have been a Knight for 18 years and have never seen anything close to what you allude to, not even close.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • sonny chapman

        Rob, believe me, your Southern Brothers don't think that way. And you might not either if your Faith was tested as it is here in the South.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • Chicago

        It is true, you do start smelling like the sheep around you.

        November 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  15. stevie68a

    We really are in a New Age, and religion is part of the old.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • amniculi

      Word.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  16. billym67

    Believing in ghosts and fairytales does nothing, but make you afraid of reality and the future.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  17. Mrs. Travis

    I fear for his life in his strength to stand up and attempt to change hypocrisy and the corruption that has thrived in the Vatican for centuries. While I agree with his message and pray too that the world be rid of poverty and inequality I fear it is too late to change the course the world has chosen and the collision that is inevitable...

    November 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • sonny chapman

      He ain't scared. If "it" happens, he will have gone out obeying the Message of the Father to him.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  18. lewtwo

    SO .... this means more fake relics like the bones of St Peter ?

    November 26, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  19. Neo Atheist

    Prayer changes nothing.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Bob Hope's Ghost

      sure it does, once a group starts praying in public, morans like atheists start complaining

      November 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • doobzz

        Pray in public all you want, "moran". Just keep it out of the government and public schools.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Bob Hope's Ghost

          i used "moran" because CNN likes to filter things. As for keeping it out of school and gov't, while you atheists are getting your wish as far as Christianity being removed, it's being replaced with Islamic/ Sharia laws. good luck living in THAT world, you're gonna wish for Christianity back when that happens.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • skarphace

          Bob: first, do you see the result of throwing insults around? It does nothing to promote your argument, in fact the opposite.

          Second, what evidence do you have that Christianity is being replace by Sharia Law in public schools? If you have a source that backs up your claim, I would like to see it.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • doobzz

          Oh good grief. You really don't know much about constitutional law, do you?

          Could you provide some evidence that the christian prayers that are routinely said before government meetings are being replaced by Islamic prayers (or Sharia law, as you put it)?

          BTW, there are easy ways around the CNN filter for naughty words like moron.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:48 am |
        • bobsmithers

          Yes, you are right. Keep things like prayer and golden rules out. We should keep teaching them humans evolved from animals.

          Eventually Americans will not be shocked when their kids go to school with guns and act like animals.

          January 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • doobzz

          @bobsmithers

          Please point out where I said that children should not be taught to treat others the way they would like to be treated.

          Stop lying about what I said, bobsmithers.

          January 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Well, prayer is nothing more than meditation, as far as anyone can determine. And meditation can be a very powerful force for good or evil, so....I'm not sure about "teaching it" in school, but I guess it wouldn't be too bad.

          The golden rule is just a logical extension of our nature as social animals with empathy. Plenty of animal species practice it to some extent or great extent. So, logically, the golden rule is a decent rule to follow.

          Neither of those concepts are tied to any religion or belief in any god, so....??? The fact is that no religion or god belief can demonstrate that their god is any less invisible, undetectable, or irrelevant than any other god. That's a big deal, because with math and genetics and chemistry and physics-there is agreement because of PROVEN results that can be demonstrated in real world application. That's why a christian survivalist and a muslim terrorist use the exact same math and chemistry when building bombs, but yet they use completely different religious ideology. They MUST use the same math and chemistry, but the real world doesn't care what god they believe in--unlike math and chemistry, there is nothing in the natural world to keep a person from believing the wrong/right god.

          January 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
      • JBC

        "virgin birth", 'talking snake", etc. ??? who are the morons?

        November 26, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Bob Hope's Ghost

          talking snake? what? see, that's the problem with religion haters, they hate on everybody without any concept of what some people believe. i HATE religions, all of them. But do i think there's something out there? Possibly, even yes. there are many things unanswered but I'm not about to look down on people who don't believe or do believe. Everyone has a right to do what they think regarding religion.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • skarphace

          "Everyone has a right to do what they think regarding religion."

          Not when it infringes on the rights of others to live the way they want to live. If your claim were true, then suicide attacks would be ok because they are only taking such action because of their faith.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Chicago

          Read some more of that book JBC, there are references to alien lights coming down out of the sky and weird cloud events. Oh you got to read this book.

          November 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • Bing Crosby's Ghost

        You always were stupid, Bob.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • Bob Hope's Ghost

          LOL I don't what god you pray to, but this is funny right here.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • dave

      Neo: prayer changed my life and the lives of my friends. If you are honest, you will admit that I know more about me than you know about me. But because you are an atheist posting online you are probably not honest or polite and I suspect you will say something obnoxious.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • doobzz

        "But because you are an atheist posting online you are probably not honest or polite and I suspect you will say something obnoxious."

        Pretty big assumption there, Dave. Do you always paint with such a broad brush?

        November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • skarphace

        Well, dave, just like not all Christians are alike, not all atheists are alike either. I am an atheist, and I know that prayer changes things, but from within. I pray on a regular basis even though I have never seen nor felt anything that would lead me to believe that God exists.

        Prayer is like solo-counseling. It forces you to look within at your own life and see what needs to be changed. Even if there is no God, prayer can indeed change things.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • WASP

        dave prayer helped you and your friends mainly because you wanted it to. it's the same as meditation helps me. i can spend hours meditating and i feel stronger after-wards and more clear headed afterwards.

        so prayer/meditation can change things, but only if we want to change; which basically shows it's personal inner strength that truly causes change, not simply he act of praying.

        prayer for a crack addict wouldn't do much good if they were at their dealers house.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • M.E.

      Action does. And he happens to be calling for action. Don't get so wrapped up in your nonbelief that you lose reading comprehension. This pope has previously tossed atheists a bit of an olive branch, it would be nice to offer the same back.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • WASP

        as an atheist i can appreciate what this new pope is doing, yet a long ways to go.
        the whole abortion/anti-abortion debate shouldn't be handled by the church, the church doesn't spend nine months with wieght gain, bloating, having your bladder kicked in the middle of the night like a soccerball, then have to push a watermelon through a lemon hole; it's up to ever woman out there to decide which consequences they wish to deal with the rest of their lives.
        CHOICES:
        1) give birth. child is with you for the rest of your life and a drain on all resources; which is fine if you have what is required to provide that child with a stable and safe enviroment to mature in.
        2) abort. fetus is removed before the end of the first trimester. the termination of any pregnancy has more effects on a woman than the church can ever understand; whether by chance,by god or by science it all effects the women the most. it's their choice what they do. men only fertiilize the egg, we carry it the rest of the time, not to mention when you freaks optout and run leaving us to raise the child alone our whole lives.

        the church needs to discipline those crazies that take it upon themselves to make women feel even worse about an already astronoimically difficult choice.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Joe

          People should feel bad when the "choose" to murder another human being.

          November 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Jules

      If you don't pray how do you know? I believe in the power of prayer – I know there is power in prayer.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • skarphace

      Well, you have it only part right. Prayer changes nothing outside your own self. However, it does indeed change from within.

      Public prayer, however, does sometimes turn away the very people you should be attempting to bring into the Church, and therefore should be used sparingly and respectfully. If you only pray in public to pronounce your religion, then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Jon

      No Neo.... It changes the person praying from within.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • bobsmithers

      Nothing changes prayer.

      Do you really think you can rant it out of existence?

      January 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
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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.