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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. Jim

    In other words, the dogma and pompous righteousness that is the Catholic Church is no longer credible as the moral authority for and advancing civilization progressing from science , logic and basic philosophy. Religion is a man made manacle born from mythology where dealt is an illusion not a reality.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  2. SouthernCelt

    I just read "Evangelii Gaudium" and got a whole different view than Mr. Burke did. You can read it too and see what you think. if you do a web search for Evangelii Gaudium you will find it in English, freely available. While the Holy Father did talk about re-examining ancient cultural practices he also wrote extensively about the Truth of The Gospel. He said nothing at all about changing the definition of Sin, or the need to "Go Forth and Sin No More" to fully accept that Truth. He said nothing at all about changing Canon Law or the Eucharistic Rite. He did say to explain it better to everyone and said 'No' to fundamentalism. I suggest the Editor, Mr. Burke, should read it again without CNN's opinion weighing him down.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • JDD

      Go right to the source? Who would have thought. A good reminder for this morning – thank you.

      November 27, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  3. Reality Seeker

    Religion is a scam and is responsible for millions upon millions of people being killed in some GOD's Name. How disgusting, this Pope can do whatever he wants and does not need GOD's or Jesus' opinion on the matter. The only reason we have all these religions and talks of GOD is because its a money thing and there is no way ever they will release your souls until they suck them dry of all their funds. I think the U.S. Government should TAX religion and call it what it truly is,"A SHAM" and thank you for your money. Remember Santa Claus is alive and the moon is only out when it shines. Man is so pathetic when it comes to their religions and faith.Here is the greatest TRUTH for man. HELLO MAN, when you die, you are done!!!!!!!

    November 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Mike

      yeah get fired up! whoa!

      November 27, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Hell NO

      Ronald Reagan's Son Records Atheist Radio Ad: 'Not Afraid Of Burning In Hell'

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/ronald-reagan-son_n_4344364.html

      November 27, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  4. roooper

    Does this mean that the priests can no longer molest children?

    November 27, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • igaftr

      No...that tradition they are still fighting to keep...they have a long history of that behavior, including several popes.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • rach251

      Actually if you've paid any attention to what's happened in the Catholic Church over the last several years, the Church has a zero tolerance policy for any abuse or misconduct towards children – by priests, parents, teachers or anyone affiliated with Catholic Schools, Parishes, or organizations. Not only is there zero tolerance, but also training in place to instruct people on what's appropriate and what isn't and what to do (go to the authorities) if we notice abuse occurring.

      So before you insult my faith and the faith of billions more, try doing a little research.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • igaftr

        Where is the full disclosure, the prosecution of the molestors AND those who hid the abuse? Where is the rest!tution for the victims?
        Your church is still on the hook.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:59 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Research done...just go to bishopaccountability.org for further info...your church is very corrupt and I think your Pope is more of a non-believer hiding behind his pretty dress.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Nothing good, Abused

        actually, it was the victims and families who demanded the church clean up its act and put solid procedures in place to train those around children.

        The bishops refused to do so at first,, but in the end, had to or face further consequences.

        The church and bishops had zero to do with making this happen. It was all the victims and family members. So before you run around acting as if the church actually did something responsible on their own, that would be a lie.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  5. lemon

    Republicans must be really starting to hate this pope, seeing he's actually talking like a Christian.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Jim MCDonald

      Sad you speak from your hate, and not reality.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  6. Me

    I don't know. I'm no Catholic, but he sure seems to be hitting on all cylinders....

    November 27, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  7. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    More "Sister Act", less "In this House of Breed"!

    November 27, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  8. Steve Morgan

    The papacy is a huge lie. The pope is no better or worse than any other follower of Jesus... he is just a man... perfectly equal in God's eyes. In their heart of hearts deep down inside every Catholic knows this to be true... but they suppress it out of respect for the supreme leader of their faith. Even though I know what the pope represents is a huge lie... i stillI like this pope and respect he is trying to bring change to a deeply flawed religion.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • JDD

      An interesting post, because you start by saying the papacy is a huge lie, but then give your definition of the Pope...which is exactly what Catholicism teaches about the Pope.

      Catholics believe the pope is just a man, and that he is no better or worse than any other follower of Jesus. This is not, however, the same thing as saying that he has no different job than any other follower of Jesus, or that he has no particular gifts to help him do his job.

      It's pretty clear in Scripture: Jesus is the head of the church he founded. And as head of the church, he gave authority to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19, referencing the Old Testament pattern of Isaiah 22:22. The disciples – being Jews – would have recognized the reference and known exactly what he was implying. Peter is a trusted servant put in charge of the household until the king returns. This troubles a lot of people, but it doesn't need to – it's pretty straightforward. Someone needs to be in charge. It doesn't mean they are perfect; it just means they are in charge.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  9. jim g

    During its tenure on earth and around the world, the Roman Catholic Church has, for good or evil, profoundly affected the lives of billions upon billions of human beings.

    It is my contention and my sincere conviction, from my experience in the Catholic educational system, my life of fifteen years in the priesthood, and thirteen years of constant observation and intense study since leaving the Church, that its influence on all civilization has been far more of evil than of good.

    Intellectually, the Church of Rome has done its best to strangle the human mind and stifle mental initiative. It must do this if it is to survive. No thinking or intelligent, historically studious person, especially a freedom-loving American, can become or remain a Roman Catholic.=homedotcomcast.net

    November 27, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • columbus

      I am not going to argue for Catholicism, I was born into and raised a Catholic but left the church many years ago because I disagreed with the dogma of the Catholic religion. But as a student of theology, you are certainly aware of the historic position of the Vatican in political collaboration with kings and presidents throughout history. Governments are rife with corruption and the Vatican is no exception, these "men of God" are as human and fallible as any one of us mere laymen. So is your condemnation aimed at the Vatican, or the entire Catholic faith? Since without a Vatican, there is likely to be no Catholic church, where do people turn to? As an ex priest, you know some people have a need for faith, and they have been taught to trust the clergy. Should there be an overthrow in the structure of the hierarchy of the church, or is it too far gone?

      November 27, 2013 at 9:56 am |
      • mk

        People only "need faith" because they are told they need faith.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:04 am |
      • Pastor Hairier Palms

        There will be reform when a _new_ good book is written acknowledging the past including the datedness of the NT and the terrible, the good, and the bad that has transpired.

        If the Church doesn't do it, the book will be written for them by the atheists.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • JDD

      Jim G,

      I'm sorry to hear you've left the Church, and hope that someday you return. A book called "Rome Sweet Home" by Scott Hahn was instrumental for me. I'm a mechanical engineer myself and have not found my intellect stunted by my study of either theology or history.

      It's well established that the Christian Monasteries preserved much of our civilization's knowledge through the Dark Ages.

      There are also, for example, many astronauts and scientists who work within our space program who are Christians. In fact, they often cite their religious faith and awe of the created order – understanding it to be both created and ordered – as the reason they wanted to study the cosmos even more.

      How does this square with your theory on strangling the human mind and stifling mental initiative?

      November 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  10. Nothing good, Abused

    and there is a 'Cardinal Oath', an oath which requires the cardinals and bishops to lie, even to local authorities, to protect the reputation of the church first.

    and the Vatican has a do-c-ument which they require bishops to read and follow, called 'Mental Reservation'. This doc-u-ment describes how to lie without showing guilt. It requires the liar to focus on statements made and find the slightest error, no matter how small. When denying a truth, mentally focus on that small error as if it where the point of questioning. ie.. if it was a partly cloudy day when a crime was committed and the questioner claimed it was a mostly sunny day. When asked, did you know about the crime, the answer becomes a firm no. Mental deflection.

    This religion is about deceiving. The popes, bishops and cardinals are much like a group of juvenile delinquents that never grew up.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  11. Nothing good, Abused

    ////// To those who are unaware. PLEASE NOTE!

    The US catholic bishops are actively lobbying to stop laws which would help children victims of abuse. They are doing so under the approval of this pope. All victims now lose, no matter who abused.

    Victims denied, yet the truth is the greatest healer. Nothing like being denied as a child, being called a liar by your once catholic peers and now by laws which deny you again by the successful lobby efforts of this religion.

    and then add;

    The Catholic League's president, using catholic donations, paid for a full page advertisement in Detriot claiming victims are liars.

    Cardinal Dolan compared children victims to pros-t-it-utes.

    Many off the children are mentally ill and others have committed suicide, due to the abuses.

    This is your pope and the catholic church, a cruel and selfish bunch. You'd think the pope would have addressed this first and demand the bishops stop, he didn't. In fact he deflects with all his nonsense of pretending 'humility'. Hypocrite is a word that describes him well.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  12. Nothing good

    pope is a con man

    November 27, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  13. bobB

    He is shaping up to be the coolest Pope ever.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  14. JW

    Have you ever asked yourself,
    Why do we suffer? What is the purpose of life? What can we expect for the future?

    The bible provides these, and many more answers to other questions.

    Jehovah witnesses will be happy to study the bible with you, at a time and location of your convenience.
    Our bible education is totally free. As Jesus. Said in Matthew 10:8:" You received free, give free"

    November 27, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • NeoKat1

      Question: Why would I want to go outside of my church to study the word of God when we study the word of God inside our community with our brothers and sisters??

      November 27, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • JW

        The program and services your church provides, are they free of charge?
        Is your church really teaching what is in the bible, or men's traditions?

        November 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • NeoKat1

          The Catholic Church does not charge a penny for bible study!! Absolutely free.. various communities of 20-50max brothers and sisters. 100% free. 2 times a week 3-4 hours each day, one full day a month plus the sacraments of reconciliation, the Eucharist is a MUST and various Catechesis in between...That is how my Catholic Church is organized. This is the church founded by Jesus thru Peter and the rest of the apostles and disciples. This is not a religion but more so a way of life.. We either live it or we are not following Jesus.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:35 am |
        • JW

          You haven't answered if you church bases it's teachings on tradition of men yet??

          You church has replaced the bible by philosophy's of men... The majority of your teachings are false and don't have backing with the bible. But I leave it up to do the home work.

          November 27, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • mk

        Because JWs are 100% sure that they have the REAL true word of god and what it really means. No one else does. Really.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • JW

          The others matter to us... Of they didn't we wouldn't be preaching to people all over the earth. If I think we have the truth, ... I'm %100 sure,The bible teaches that there's only one way. Which way is it? Study the bible and compare what the bible teaches with what other churches are teaching .

          Matt 7:21-23- "“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’"

          November 27, 2013 at 9:46 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @JW
          Your religion is just an offshoot of the Millerite movement in the 1800's, just like the 7th Day Adventists.
          Charles Taze Russell, the 33rd degree Mason and founder of the Watchtower Society, studied the Bible and was greatly influenced by many Adventists such as George Storrs, Jonas Wendell, George Stetson and Nelson Barbour.
          Many of Russell’s doctrines came from the Adventists like the ransom doctrine, heaven on earth, critics on the traditional churches, the soul sleep after death, the dates calculated for the return of Christ, and the denial of the immortality of the soul and Hell.
          Even if JoHos manage to ignore the failed Milleritre Prophecies (referred to as 'The Great Disappointment"), they themselves announced the end of the world in 1914,1918,1925, and 1975.

          You'd think so many failures would cast a little doubt on the perfect, innerrant interpretation of scripture they claim to have.

          November 27, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • JW

          All our teachings are based in the bible, prove with the scriptures what you we say is false?

          The events of 1914 actually happened, not as JWs at that time predicted but they did happen, the proof is the start of the 1st World War! The other dates are inventions of who hates JWs!

          November 27, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @JW
          The other dates are all made up by JW haters?
          You should really be more careful in this day and age when archived copies of The Watchtower are easily obtainable.

          "Does God's rest day parallel the time man has been on earth since his creation? Apparently so. In what year, then, would the first 6,000 years of man's existence and also the first 6,000 years of Gods rest day come to an end? The year 1975. It means that within a relatively few years we will witness the fulfilment of the remaining prophecies that have to do with the "time of the end"."
          – Awake! 1966 Oct 8 pp.19-20

          "The immediate future is certain to be filled with climactic events, for this old system is nearing its complete end. Within a few years at most the final parts of Bible prophecy relative to these "last days" will undergo fulfilment."
          – Watchtower 1968 May 1 p.272

          November 27, 2013 at 10:28 am |
        • JW

          Doc- "with in a few years we will experiment the fulfilment of bible prophecy related to the end"

          Does this tell you that Armageddon was gonna come in 1975?

          November 27, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • JW

          Doc- read John 6:51-68.

          If it was you there, what decision would you have made?

          November 27, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • ar

          Doc Vestibule, you are an apostate. 1 Timothy 4:1 says "However, the inspired word clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired statements and teachings of the demons". The information from the 1960's you stated does not mention when Armageddon(God's war) is coming. No one knows the day or time in which it will come as noted in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 "Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you." Also be careful with what you say and do as you might be working against the holy spirit and cause your own end. Read Mark 3:29 which says "But whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit has no forgiveness forever but is guilty of everlasting sin."

          November 27, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @AR
          Heretic, not apostate – thank you very much.

          “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
          —1 John 2:18
          Christians have been waiting on tenterhooks for the Second Coming / End Times since the Bible itself was written.
          Many have prophesied the exact time of date of His return and ALL have been wrong.
          George Rapp said it would be September 15th, 1829.
          William Miller predicted October 22, 1844. Jesus’ failure to arrive is known as “The Great Disappointment”. Many of his disillusioned followers went on the found the 7th Day Adventist Church, who are still patiently awaiting His return.
          Charles Russell, 1st President of the Watchtower Society told his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus would be back in 1874.
          Rudolf Steiner maintained that from 1930 onwards, Jesus would grant certain people psychic powers to enable them to witness his presence in the “etheric plane”.
          Herbert Armstrong, Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God said 1975.
          Bill Maupin managed to convince his followers to sell all of their worldly goods in preparation for Jesus’ return on June 28th, 1981.
          Benjamin Crème stated that on June 21st, 1982 Christ would make a worldwide television announcement.
          Mark Blitz, Pastor of El Shaddai Ministries says it would be September 30th, 2008
          Jerry Falwell said it’d happen between 1999 and 2009.
          Harold Camping told everyone that the Rapture would happen May 21, 2011 after failing in his first predicted date of 1994.

          Conversely, many believe He’s all ready come in the form of Sun Myung Moon, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baha u llah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, David Koresh, Hailie Selassie, John Thom, Arnold Potter, William Davies, George roux, Ernest Norman, Krishna Venta, Ahn Sahng-Hong, Jim Jones, Mashall Applewhite, Hulon Mitchell, Wayne Bent, Ariffin Mohammed, Mitsuo Matayoshi, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Inri Cristo, Thomas Provenzano, David Icke, Shoko Asahara, Hogan Fukinaga, Marina Tsvigun or Sergei Troop.

          November 27, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • ar

          Doc Vestibule, you are very confused and far from the truth. Get to know God as God's word mentions in John 17:3 which states "This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent Jesus." The end will come in God's due time; that will occur whether you agree with that chosen time or not. As I already mentioned, don't find yourself fighting against the holy spirit since you will not prevail.

          November 27, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • lol??

      Every time they came to my door I'd ask them a question and they said, "I have to go back and ask my superior." At that residence I ended up with an invisible X on my door. When I moved I told em to stick with Paul and they'd understand the OT just fine. That was the last I saw of them.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:13 am |
      • JW

        "They say: I have to go back and ask my superior"

        JWs never say such thing. Good joke though, made me laugh!

        November 27, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • lol??

          I don't remember if they used the term superior, but that was the gist.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • Carlos

          Yes, you guys do that. That happened to me.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • truthprevails1

          They do all the time!!!

          November 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • JW

          Sometimes we may not have an answer right away for your questions. But we go investigate an come back with an answer. Though we never say, " I'll go to a superior"... We already have more then enough publications and the bible that gives answers to you question!

          November 27, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • jim g

      the catholic church, and the bible, are nothing but garbage.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
      • NeoKat1

        so says the devil..

        November 27, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • truthprevails1

          You fool...if one doesn't believe in your god then they also don't believe in your gods imaginary enemy satan.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • NeoKat1

        @truthprevails0 – The fact that you don't believe does not mean it doesn't exist. You're free to believe what you want. God exists, so does the devil regardless of what you believe.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • JWT

          Your version of a god exists to you, that does not mean it exists to anyone else.

          November 27, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      ctually I don't ask myself these things. We suffer because we are fragile, mortal beings on a planet that is indifferent to our plight. We are born because our parents procreated and our lives have only the meaning we give them. We have no honest way of knowing what the future will bring. We can make educated guesses, but in the end the future that we try to build for ourselves is vulnerable to factors we cannot predict. Anyone who tells you that they have all the aswers is probably trying to sell you something.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
      • mk

        They're just pandering to those who are "lost", those who can't think for themselves and are so down in the dumps they figure they need someone else to give them a reason for their "suffering". Then they reel them in. Kinda like how they pander to people in third world countries who really just want a meal but are given a free bible and a bible lesson that promises "manna from heaven" instead.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          "When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said "Let us pray." We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land."

          – Desmond Tutu

          November 27, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Why do we suffer?
      Becuase the Creator got very upset with the Dirt Man and his Rib Clone for allowing a snake to talk them into eating magic fruit.

      What is the purpose of life?
      To server God. Never question, just obey.

      What can we expect for the future?
      Many years of horrendous pain and desolation as Satan's 1,000 year reign progresses. A10 horned, 7 headed amphibious bear will wreak havoc with his pal, the 7 headed dragon that spews torrents of water searches for pregnant women to snack on. Swarms of armour clad locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion will devastate entire populations with excruciating, paralyzing stings.
      Billions will die horrible deaths, never to see an afterlife.
      144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will get into Heaven, but the rest of humanity is S.O.L.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • JW

        Please study the bible with JWs, you guys don't know what you guys are saying, but the answer is all in the bible.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          I know that I'm giving a Coles Notes version, but what did I get wrong?
          Isn't The Beast coming? Will there be no time of tribulation? Does everybody who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour get into Heaven?

          November 27, 2013 at 9:29 am |
      • ar

        Why do we suffer?
        Becuase the Creator got very upset with the Dirt Man and his Rib Clone for allowing a snake to talk them into eating magic fruit.

        –He was from the dirt but became a man, not a dirt man. There was no magic fruit, God does not approve of magic. They were not allowed to eat that fruit. We do suffer because of their disobedience.

        What is the purpose of life?
        To server God. Never question, just obey.

        - To a degree your answer is correct. The purpose of life is to serve God and live forever. But you missed the point of free will. God does not force anyone to obey him.

        What can we expect for the future?
        Many years of horrendous pain and desolation as Satan's 1,000 year reign progresses. A10 horned, 7 headed amphibious bear will wreak havoc with his pal, the 7 headed dragon that spews torrents of water searches for pregnant women to snack on. Swarms of armour clad locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion will devastate entire populations with excruciating, paralyzing stings.
        Billions will die horrible deaths, never to see an afterlife.
        144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will get into Heaven, but the rest of humanity is S.O.L.

        - The upcoming 1000 years, Satan will be locked up. He will not be roaming around and doing damage to others as you described. Some will be chosen to live in heaven but most humans will live in the earth under God's government. False religion which now deceives humans will no longer exist.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'There was no magic fruit, God does not approve of magic. '
          Dont be silly, god uses magic all the time in the OT. Its other people using it that he doesnt like.

          'But you missed the point of free will. God does not force anyone to obey him.'
          Question.....do you still have free will in heaven?

          November 27, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • Reality Seeker

          Get a grip on reality. There is as much of a GOD and Jesus as their is Santa Claus,Bigfoot,Ghosts,etc. Man has this unique way of creating things he does not understand and when he can no longer explain who what and why he does so by FAITH, because there is nothing else. The bible is nothing more than a book of fiction and has been a best seller for 2000 years of which GOD supposedly created the Earth 5000 years ago in 7 days. Science has proven beyond a shadow of doubt the Earth is billions of years old and has evidence that the inhabitants of that times were things like T-Rex and all his buddies. How SAD Man is with his pathetic Religion.

          November 27, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • ar

          To answer your two questions:

          >>Dont be silly, god uses magic all the time in the OT. Its other people using it that he doesnt like.
          Read Leviticus 19:26: "You must not look for omens or practice magic."

          >>Question.....do you still have free will in heaven?
          Yes you do, but you will not be going there at your free will. Also as I previously mentioned, must humans that want to serve God will not be living in heaven. They will be living in a paradise earth as perfect humans beings.

          November 27, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • JDD

        [Doc Vestibule:] "What is the purpose of life? To server God. Never question, just obey."

        I keep seeing this type of statement on these boards. But in contrast, Jesus said:

        "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' [Luke 10:27]

        And Catholicism actually teaches:

        "To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act." "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus." Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. . . grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself." [Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 160.]
        To server God. Never question, just obey."

        I keep seeing this type of statement on these boards. But actually, Jesus said:

        "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' [Luke 10:27]

        To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act."39 "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus."40 Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. . . grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself."

        November 27, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @JDD
          I was responding to JW, who is (as their name implies), a Jehovah's Witness.
          I was facetiously summarizing their answers to those questions.

          November 27, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Why do we suffer? What is the purpose of life? What can we expect for the future?

      The bible provides these, and many more answers to other questions.'

      Actually the bible doesnt answer any of those questions. It doesnt tell us why god would have a system involving suffering, what the actual point of creating life was in the first place, and what the future brings beyond some high level claim of eternal life in heaven with no details of how that actually operates.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • igaftr

      yes the bible provides answers....wrong answers are still answers.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • JWT

      The sooner the JWs stay poff my property the better. Of course maybe they enjoy talking to the dog.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  15. demovsemperor

    I think he is gay.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • charlene

      lol

      November 27, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  16. Don Lessnau

    In general, most of this sounds encouraging. But until Frank sends back Bernard Cardinal Law to
    face charges in Boston, it will be the deeds and not the words people should pay attention to at the Vatican.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:02 am |
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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.