March 2nd, 2013
11:00 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Mark Burnett is the king of reality television. His shows and spinoffs command hours of prime-time television real estate. The seal of his production company One Three Media appears at the end of “Survivor,” “The Voice,” “The Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” “The Job” and “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”
He will tell you each show was No. 1 in the time slot. He will tell you he will take on all comers in his bare-knuckle, ratings-driven world and beat them. He will tell you on any given day he has 150 video-editing systems churning through edits on his dossier, which spans the three major broadcast networks.
But if you suggest he may not have the chops to take on a massive scripted dramatic presentation of the Bible as a 10-hour miniseries, his eyes will tell you he wants to throttle you.
Burnett and wife, Roma Downey, have been barnstorming the country like roving preachers on horseback trying to evangelize the West. Their gospel is spreading the news of “The Bible” - their ambitious project that aims to tell the story of the Bible in 10 installments. It begins its weeklong premiere on the History Channel Sunday night.
February 28th, 2013
09:31 PM ET
By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN
(CNN) – Andreas Widmer knew two men - one who was pope and one who would succeed him - who despite their immense responsibilities were keen to the spiritual needs of the people around them. The sort of people others might hardly notice.
Widmer was one of those the clerics noticed.
He saw the inner workings of the Vatican as a member of the Swiss Guard when John Paul II was head of the Roman Catholic Church. The experience left him with an appreciation for what a pope sacrifices.
"Nobody wants to be pope," he said. To become pope is "to give up all privacy," Widmer said. "You're basically locked in; you have to go where you have to go. You lose your friends, you lose your family - you're a prisoner.
"Not one cardinal wants to be pope."
February 26th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) - Don't expect a lot of shuffleboard games for the soon-to-be former Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, Head of the College of Bishops, Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church: Pope Benedict XVI.
On Thursday, at 8 p.m. in Rome, Benedict will become the first retired pontiff in 600 years. And with no modern guides, everything he does will be pioneering for a 21st century papal retiree.
The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the globe will leave his seat at the ornate Apostolic Palace and retire to a former gardener's house at the Vatican to lead a life of prayer, likely removed entirely from public life.
February 26th, 2013
07:56 AM ET
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.
February 24th, 2013
08:02 AM ET
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.
February 19th, 2013
01:06 PM ET
(CNN) – Despite calls for a new pope from Latin America or Africa, the areas of the Catholic Church experiencing the most rapid growth, the power in the College of Cardinals is decidedly European.
The rapid growth of the Catholic population in Latin America and Africa has not yet led to a proportional balancing of the College of Cardinals. The makeup of the college skews overwhelmingly European, while the majority of the congregants are increasingly not European.
“It (the College of Cardinals) doesn't reflect the population, it reflects the power structure,” said William D’Antonio, a professor at The Catholic University of America. “It is like a corporation. The corporation picks its own board of directors. You might own some stock in it, but you are really fighting a battle against a corporation here.”
Dubbed the “princes of the church,” the cardinals’ main role is to select the next pope, which is done in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Cardinals are handpicked by the pope both to choose his successor and to assist in the daily needs of the church. When they are elevated to the role they take on a red hat, symbolic of their willingness to shed their own blood for their faith.
February 11th, 2013
02:26 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN)–The questions reverberated from the Vatican to every corner of the Catholic world and left a billion members scratching their heads over something not seen since 1415 - why is the pope resigning now?
Pope Benedict XVI, 85, said Monday that it was because of his age.
"I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he read in Latin to a group of cardinals gathered to examine causes for canonization.
The pressures may well have been too much for him to bear. As pope he was the bishop of Rome, the head of a tiny country, and spiritual shepherd to a billion people.
'[I]n today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," he continued in his statement.
February 11th, 2013
01:18 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
(CNN) – Hours after Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement Monday, speculation was surging over who might be his successor and what part of the world the new pontiff could be from.
The 118 cardinals who will pick the next pope are also in the running for the job. Those cardinals are from around the globe, but more than half of them hail from European nations, according to Vatican statistics.
Worldwide, the demographic trends among the Roman Catholic Church's nearly 1.2 billion members show a different breakdown, with the church seeing only a trickle of new members in Europe, while membership has grown significantly in Africa.
February 7th, 2013
12:24 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
The sound reverberated over the quiet of a momentary political cease-fire in Washington.
For the 61st time, the president came to pray with the U.S. Senate and House prayer groups at the National Prayer Breakfast. It is an event that is equal parts prayer and politics, where members of both parties laud one another about a temporary political truce, lay down their partisan ammunition, and pause to pray together.
Members of Congress mixed in across the ballroom with the 3,000 diplomats, dignitaries, clergy, veterans and many more from 140 countries who bought a ticket to join in the ecumenical prayer event.
All told there were four short prayers, delivered by a senator, an admiral, a Cabinet secretary and an Olympic gold medalist, Gabrielle “the Flying Squirrel” Douglas.
The remainder of the 90 minutes was filled with speeches, songs, coffee, mini-quiches, and bagels.
January 15th, 2013
06:14 PM ET
By Lisa Desjardins and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The president has picked a neighbor to deliver the closing prayer at the inauguration.
The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House, dubbed the “Church of the Presidents.”
"I found out last week,” he told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
A source close to the inaugural committee confirmed León would be delivering the benediction and said a formal announcement would be coming later in the week.
The historic church León has pastored since 1995 has been connected to every president since its founding in 1815. Inside the historic building, Pew 54 is reserved for presidents whenever they come to worship. FULL POST
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.