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April 24th, 2014
10:21 AM ET

Vatican: Pope's phone calls don't change church doctrine

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - They're just phone calls, people.

That's the message the Vatican sent to reporters on Thursday, a day after news broke about a private conversation between the pontiff and a woman in Argentina.

Pope Francis, who is from Argentina and was archbishop of Buenos Aires for many years, reportedly called Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona and told her it was OK to receive Communion, despite her civil marriage to a divorced man. 

"She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong," the woman's husband, Julio Sabetta, told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate in Argentina.

Does that mean the Pope was overturning centuries of church doctrine?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

Pope Francis
April 23rd, 2014
03:46 PM ET

Pope stirs Communion debate with call to woman

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor 

(CNN) – Pope Francis called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man and reportedly told her that she could receive the sacrament of Communion, according to the woman's husband, in an apparent contradiction of Catholic law.

Julio Sabetta, from San Lorenzo in the Pope's home country, said his wife, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, spoke with Francis on Monday.

Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona wrote to the pontiff in September to ask for clarification on the Communion issue, according to her husband, who said his divorced status had prevented her from receiving the sacrament.

"She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong," Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed the telephone call but would not comment on the conversation's content.

"It's between the Pope and the woman," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Argentina • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Ethics • Pope Francis • South America

April 11th, 2014
09:27 AM ET

Pope asks for forgiveness for 'evil' of sex abuse

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio.

"The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed," Francis continued. "On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children."

The Pope's new comments, made to a Catholic NGO on Friday, represent a shift from his previous statements on sexual abuse.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

April 5th, 2014
04:48 PM ET

Archbishop to vacate $2.2 million mansion

By Chandrika Narayan, CNN, and Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - After coming under sharp criticism and issuing an apology earlier this week, the Archbishop of Atlanta announced Saturday that he would vacate his $2.2 million mansion in early May.

The decision came after a meeting with members of several church councils and parishioners in Archbishop Wilton Gregory's headquarters north of Atlanta.

"I want to thank those parishioners whose prayers, counsel and concern brought this issue to light and ensured that their Archbishop was properly attuned to the important symbolism of simple actions and the challenges faced by many of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Atlanta," Gregory said in a statement.

There were nearly 60 people present at the closed-door meeting, said Pat Chivers, communications director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. They included members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral and Finance Council, the Council of Priests and parishioners of differing points of view,

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

Archbishop's $2 million mansion gone with the wind?
The $2.2 million mansion where Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory resides -- for now.
April 2nd, 2014
11:17 AM ET

Archbishop's $2 million mansion gone with the wind?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Facing sharp criticism for falling out of step with Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Atlanta has apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion on land bequeathed by the family of a famed Southern writer.

Atlanta's Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he approved construction of the 6,000-square-foot home after agreeing to leave the traditional archbishop's residence to make way for priests who serve the cathedral next door.

Gregory moved into the mansion in January.

"What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed," Gregory wrote Monday in the archdiocesan newspaper.

The archbishop's apology began by citing an e-mail from a Catholic woman who chided Gregory for failing to follow "the example of a simple life as Pope Francis calls for."

Gregory said he agrees and will consult church leaders about selling the mansion, which sits in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Church • Pope Francis

March 26th, 2014
04:17 PM ET

Vatican landmark Obama will miss

CNN's Ben Wedeman gloats over what President Barack Obama likely won't get a chance to see on his visit to the Vatican on Thursday. Take a look inside the Sistine Chapel - and gaze up at its famous ceiling.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Church and state • Italy • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

March 26th, 2014
02:55 PM ET

Jimmy Carter lectures the Pope on women

(CNN)– Erin Burnett talks to former President Jimmy Carter about his letter to Pope Francis concerning the abuse of women.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Francis

Popes and U.S. presidents
March 25th, 2014
11:53 PM ET

5 things you didn't know about popes and presidents

Programing Note: Don't miss Wolf Blitzer Reports: Popes and Presidents on Easter Sunday, April 20 at 2 p.m. ET. The 30-minute special explores the long and sometimes troubled history between the White House and the Vatican.

By Wolf Blitzer and Sean Kennedy, CNN

(CNN) - President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, opening a new chapter in the centuries-long relationships between the United States and the Holy See.

While Obama has praised Francis’ focus on the poor, popes and American presidents haven’t always seen eye to eye.

With that in mind, here are five surprising encounters between the Commander in Chief and the Successor to St. Peter.

1. George Washington banned the burning of papal effigies

On the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Day, when a Catholic plot to assassinate the Protestant King of England was disrupted, American soldiers would often mark the day by torching a straw pope.

But just five months after George Washington took command of the Continental Congress’ army in 1775, he issued an order prohibiting the violent expression of anti-Catholic bigotry.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Church and state • Foreign policy • Leaders • Politics • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

March 13th, 2014
09:49 AM ET

How to really measure the 'Francis effect'
Pope Francis paying his hotel bill shortly after his election last year.
March 9th, 2014
09:40 AM ET

How to really measure the 'Francis effect'

Boston (CNN) – In some ways, the "Pope Francis effect" doesn't seem very effective at all.

Despite the immense popularity the aged Argentine has won since his election last year, not a jot of doctrine has changed, nor has the Catholic Church swelled with American converts.

But there's more than one way to measure a pontiff's influence on his far-flung flock.

Start asking around - here in Boston and beyond, Catholics and atheists alike - and it's easy to find people eager to share how one man, in just one year, has changed their lives.

There's the gay man who finally feels welcome in his church.

The woman who weeps when headlines deliver good news at last.

The former priest who no longer clenches his fist during Mass.

The Latinos who waited forever for a Pope who speaks their language.

"I'm telling you, brother, if you focus on the numbers, you're missing the story," says the Rev. John Unni, a Boston pastor with an accent as thick as clam chowda.

"There's an energy, a feeling, a spirit here. It's like a healing balm."

If anyplace needed healing, it's Boston - the country's most Catholic city.

READ MORE HERE 

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

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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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