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Opinion: Why the next pope should be African
Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan has said he would not be surprised to see an African pope in his lifetime.
February 14th, 2013
04:58 AM ET

Opinion: Why the next pope should be African

Editor's note: Stan Chu Ilo is professor of religion and education, director of field education, at St Michael's College, University of Toronto, Canada. He is also author of: "The Face of Africa: Looking Beyond the Shadows" and "The Church and Development in Africa: Aid and Development from the Perspective of Catholic Social Ethics."

By Stan Chu Ilo, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, was asked last week at the celebration of Black History Month in Toronto if he thought that the time was ripe for an African pope. His answer attracted much cheering from the crowd of over 500 Catholics of African descent.

He said: "The time for an African pope was ripe even in the time of the Apostolic Fathers in the first century of the church."

"I am not saying that I wish to be considered for the papacy, but the fact that the Gospel is to be preached to all peoples, languages, and races means that the highest leadership of the church should be open to anyone from any race, language and nation. I will not be surprised to see an African pope in my lifetime."

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Africa • Catholic Church • Pope

February 12th, 2013
11:33 AM ET

My Take: Don't bet on a diversity pope

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

The United States just finished a diversity election that saw a president elected not by old, white men but by Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has announced his retirement, the Roman Catholic Church is preparing for an election of its own. Though in this case, the election will be decided not by rank-and-file Catholics but by the College of Cardinals.

It is well known that the demographics of the Catholic Church are changing quickly. Membership is hemorrhaging in Europe and barely stable in the United States, but it is booming in Asia and Africa and Latin America, which together account for two-thirds of the world’s Catholics.

In recent years, the papacy has seen some demographic milestones, as the College of Cardinals moved beyond Italy to tap popes from Poland (John Paul II) and Germany (Benedict XVI). There is now some speculation that an American might be considered, namely Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.

But the church could take a much bolder step, tapping a pontiff that represents its future in the "Global South" rather than its past in the "Global North."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Africa • Americas • Asia • Catholic Church • Ghana • My Take • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

Could the next pope be from Africa or Latin America?
February 11th, 2013
01:18 PM ET

Could the next pope be from Africa or Latin America?

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Africa • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • South America

My take: Science, faith communities unite to protect millions from disease
A Somali boy is vaccinated at a refugee camp in Kenya.
February 7th, 2013
09:51 AM ET

My take: Science, faith communities unite to protect millions from disease

Editor's note: Dagfinn Høybråten is a vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the GAVI Alliance Board. GAVI is a public-private partnership that works with governments, vaccine producers, faith-based organizations and others to expand access to vaccines and immunization. Since its launch in 2000, GAVI has helped immunize 370 million children in the poorest countries.

By Dagfinn Høybråten, Special to CNN

Despite their political, religious and ethnic differences, leaders from around the world are coming together for today's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. As they do, it is worth noting that faith and science are also coming together around the world to promote healing and equality in the form of access to vaccines.

Vaccines are a triumph of science due to their incredible capacity to save lives and protect health. Yet vaccines reach only four out of five children who need them. To reach the fifth child, science has found an important partner in the faith community, which helps bring vaccines to the most remote areas and the children who need them most. FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Asia • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Faith & Health • Ghana • Health • Health care • Pakistan • Zambia

Nigeria's Igbo Jews: 'Lost tribe' of Israel?
February 5th, 2013
05:53 AM ET

Nigeria's Igbo Jews: 'Lost tribe' of Israel?

By Chika Oduah, for CNN

Abuja, Nigeria (CNN) – A Shabbat service is underway at the Ghihon Hebrew Research synagogue in the Jikwoyi suburb of Nigeria's federal capital territory.

Fourteen year-old Kadmiel Izungu Abor heads there with his family. They walk alongside stray goats on a road covered in red dust and potholes, lined with open sewage. They are nearly 20 kilometers away from the modern multi-story office buildings and sprawling mansions in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja.

About 50 people gather in the synagogue. They pray from the Siddur, they read from the Torah and as they chant, Abor's mellow alto begins to rise.

In a country of 162 million people tensions often lead to violent uprisings between Christians and Muslims and being part of the religious minority can be an issue. But Abor wears his kippah and his identity with pride.

"I am a Jewish Igbo," he says.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Judaism • Nigeria

Amid Orthodox Christmas, Egypt's Christians fear for their rights under Islamist government
Newly elected leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian, Pope Tawadros II, (C) Head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, leads the Coptic Christmas midnight mass at the al-Abasseya Cathedral in Cairo late on January 6, 2013.
January 7th, 2013
04:00 PM ET

Amid Orthodox Christmas, Egypt's Christians fear for their rights under Islamist government

By Shahira Amin, Special to CNN

(CNN)–
It's Orthodox Christmas, but the mood in Cairo's working-class Shobra district this year is somber. There aren't many colorful festivities and decorations that traditionally mark Eastern Christmas celebrations in this predominantly Christian neighborhood, and Shobra's Coptic Christian residents say they are in no mood to celebrate.

Growing concerns about the rights of Egypt's Copts, who make up an estimated 12% of the population, have dampened the mood of Christians, overshadowing this year's celebrations.

"Many of my friends and relatives have left the country," said 27-year-old Beshoy Ragheb. "I would leave, too, if I had a place to go."

Threats by Muslim extremists against Coptic Christians in the past year have forced scores of Christian families to flee their homes in Dahshur and the Egyptian border town of Rafah. Meanwhile, extremist attacks on Christian churches and brutal attacks by security and military forces on Christian protesters demanding the protection of their churches in October 2011 remain vivid in the memories of many of Egypt's Christians.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Coptic • Coptic Church • Egypt

January 2nd, 2013
12:34 PM ET

Nigerian forces kill 13 Boko Haram militants after church attacks

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Islamist militants in Nigeria's restive north have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.

On Tuesday, the country's military took the fight to Boko Haram's stronghold, killing 13 suspected combatants.

Read more: Nigeria guilty of abuses in pursuing Boko Haram militants

Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria's far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.

The task force condemned alleged Boko Haram attacks going back to July 2012 in a statement, calling them "incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings." These included attacks on mosques, churches and businesses.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Faith Now • Nigeria

December 26th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

12 killed in attacks on two churches in Nigeria

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said.

One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire

Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Nigeria • Pope Benedict XVI

Egyptian court orders death sentences over anti-Islam film
Protesters destroyed an American flag pulled down from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt while protesting the offensive online film "Innocence of Muslims" in September.
November 29th, 2012
04:38 AM ET

Egyptian court orders death sentences over anti-Islam film

By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN

Cairo (CNN) - Seven Coptic Egyptians living abroad were sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Cairo for their connection to an inflammatory anti-Islam film, the prosecutor's office said.

The suspects are accused of being involved with the production of the film in California, said Adel Al Saeed, official spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Since the Egyptian citizens were tried in absentia, the sentence would be applied only if they returned to Egypt.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Courts • Egypt • Islam

Salafis call for Islamic law in Egypt protest
Salafists shout slogans demanding the implementation of the sharia in Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 2, 2012.
November 12th, 2012
05:53 AM ET

Salafis call for Islamic law in Egypt protest

By Ben Wedeman,CNN

(CNN) - Thousands of supporters of various Egyptian Salafi groups gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday calling for the immediate implementation of Islamic law.

Before midday prayers, speakers called on the government of President Mohamed Morsy to move quickly to implement Sharia. Morsy won the office as the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party.

About 10,000 demonstrators advocating for Sharia filled the square, chanting in unison, "The people want God's law applied."

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Egypt • Islam • Sharia

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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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