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New Chicago archbishop ditches $14 million mansion
The cardinal's mansion in Chicago is worth at least $14 million, according to appraisers.
October 22nd, 2014
11:18 AM ET

New Chicago archbishop ditches $14 million mansion

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – Chicago's new archbishop does not plan to live in the $14 million mansion that housed many of his predecessors but was seen by some Catholics as out of touch with Pope Francis' emphasis on simplicity.

Instead, Archbishop Blase Cupich, a moderate in the mold of Francis, will live in the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral, the archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Leaders • Money & Faith • Pope Francis

October 20th, 2014
02:50 PM ET

It's hard to change the Catholic Church. Even if you're the Pope.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - As Catholic bishops in Rome began a major meeting on modern family life two weeks ago, Pope Francis encouraged them to speak candidly and "without timidness."

He certainly got what he asked for.

Bishops bickered. Conservatives contemplated conspiracy theories. Liberals lamented their colleagues' rigidity.

Through it all, the Pope stayed silent.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

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

October 13th, 2014
03:07 PM ET

A new welcome for gay Catholics in the church

Opinion by Francis DeBernardo, special to CNN

(CNN) – I could hardly believe what I was reading as I saw the news Monday morning that Catholic clergy meeting in Rome said gay and lesbian people should be welcomed into the church more warmly.

After decades of hearing messages from high church officials that lesbian and gay people were a threat to humanity and a danger to children, I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure that I was reading this new, more positive language correctly.

Was this really coming from the Catholic Church?

Most significantly, the document calls on Catholic communities to be “accepting and valuing” of lesbian and gay people's sexual orientation, and to recognize that lesbian and gay people “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.'”

Quite simply, this is a total reversal of earlier church statements that labelled such an orientation as "objectively disordered," and which viewed gay and lesbian people in faith communities as problems and suspect persons.

The new language recognizes for the first time the reality that I have witnessed in more than 20 years of ministry with lesbian and gay Catholics: “they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Opinion • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Same-sex marriage • Virgin Mary

October 13th, 2014
11:09 AM ET

Vatican proposes 'stunning' shift on gays, lesbians

By Delia Gallagher, CNN

ROME (CNN) – Using strikingly open language, a new Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference on Monday to present the report, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines said Catholic clergy meeting here have largely focused on the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages represents a  “pastoral earthquake,” said one veteran Vatican journalist.

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

The Rev. James Martin, an author and Jesuit priest, called the report's language on gays and lesbians "revolutionary."

“This is a stunning change in the way that the Catholic Church speaks about gay people.”

"The synod said that gay people have 'gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.' This is something that even a few years ago would have been unthinkable," Martin added.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Pope Francis • Same-sex marriage • Vatican

October 3rd, 2014
12:04 PM ET

Debate rages ahead of Vatican synod on the family

By Delia Gallagher, CNN

Rome (CNN) – More than 200 Catholic bishops, priests and laypeople from around the world gathered in Rome this weekend to begin discussing Catholic teachings on a range of hot-button topics, from contraception and same-sex unions to polygamy and communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

The issues, which the Vatican places under the heading of “pastoral challenges of the family,” were chosen based on the results of a worldwide survey of Catholics in 2013.

Pope Francis called the meeting, known as a synod, to address modern issues facing families today a topic that he has made a priority since the beginning of his pontificate.

The Catholic Church, the Pope has said, must make sure “it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people.”

In his short time as Pope, Francis has reached out to those who previously might have felt shunned by the church because of their family circumstances.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Pope Francis • Same-sex marriage • Sexuality • Women

Former Vatican envoy placed under house arrest
Jozef Wesolowski, a former papal ambassador, has been accuse of sexually abusing children.
September 23rd, 2014
05:35 PM ET

Former Vatican envoy placed under house arrest

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - The Vatican announced on Tuesday that it has placed a former ambassador under house arrest while he faces charges for "serious acts of abuse of minors."

Jozef Wesolowski is accused of molesting young boys during his stint as the pope's official representative in the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski had been appointed to the post in 2008 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The former envoy, who was defrocked by the Vatican in June, is one of the highest-ranking church officials to be accused of abusing children during the Catholic Church's widespread and costly sexual abuse scandal. It is the first time a top Vatican ambassador has faced such charges.

Wesolowski's arrest, the Vatican said Tuesday, "is a result of the express desire of the Pope, so that a case so serious and delicate would be addressed without delay."

Francis has pledged to maintain a policy of "zero tolerance" for Catholic clergy who abuse children.

Wesolowski's case provides a high-profile chance for the Pope, who has been accused by some victims' groups of downplaying the sexual abuse scandal, to take concrete action against one of the Vatican's own.

The Vatican said that Wesolowski suffers from an unnamed but medically documented health condition, and will be placed under house arrest in Vatican City, which is a sovereign state.

Pressure had been building on the Vatican to proceed with criminal charges against Wesolowski, a Polish native ordained by Saint John Paul II, since the accusations against him became public.

That pressure intensified when The New York Times reported last month that Wesolowski had been seen walking freely about Rome.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has also urged the Vatican to move swiftly on Wesolowski. A report by the committee in May noted that Poland had reportedly asked for the archbishop's extradition.

Under Vatican law, Wesolowski, if found guilty, could face a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

 

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

September 5th, 2014
04:06 PM ET

In 'hang out' with students, Pope says he was no angel

By Rafael Romo, CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

(CNN) – It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity: teenagers from five continents speaking directly with Pope Francis through a Google video chat.

The students from schools in Australia, Israel, Turkey, South Africa and El Salvador heard advice from the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, speaking Thursday from the Vatican in his native Spanish.

“In life,” the Pope from Argentina told them, “you can (do) either one of two opposite things: You can build bridges or walls. Walls separate and divide. Bridges get people closer.”

The Pope also allowed the teenagers to express their views during the video conference using the Google Hangouts platform.

A student from Istanbul reflected on world peace. “People from all nationalities that contain different religions and ethnic groups must learn how to live in peace,” the Turkish student said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

August 29th, 2014
04:47 PM ET

Italian paper: ISIS targeting Pope Francis

Italian newspaper Il Tempo reports that Pope Francis is a target ISIS has "in the crosshairs." CNN's John Allen reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Vatican

August 20th, 2014
08:31 PM ET

James Foley’s prayers and the dark side of faith

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog editor

(CNN) – We don’t know if James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by Islamic extremists, prayed in the hours and days before his death. We probably never will.

But Foley said faith sustained him during another ordeal in 2011, when he was held captive for 44 days by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

In a gut-wrenching article he wrote for Marquette University’s alumni magazine, Foley said he prayed while imprisoned that his family, many miles away, would somehow know that he was safe.

“Haven’t you felt my prayers?” Foley asked his mother, Diane, when he was finally allowed to call home.

Diane Foley told her son that his friends and family had been praying, too, holding vigils filled with former professors, priests and Marquette students. She echoed his question back: Have you felt ours?

He had, the journalist said. “Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat,” Foley wrote.

The 40-year-old Catholic, who reported for the GlobalPost among other publications, was abducted again in 2012, captured this time by the extremist group ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

On Tuesday, ISIS released a video showing a Muslim militant clad in black beheading Foley, who was wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the sand.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Discrimination • Faith • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Muslim • Religious violence

August 19th, 2014
11:32 AM ET

Pope 'profoundly saddened' by death of relatives in car crash

(CNN) - Pope Francis is deeply hurt by the news that a car crash killed three of his relatives in Argentina, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

On his return flight from South Korea on Monday, the Pope spoke movingly of meeting with the families of last April's ferry disaster, which killed about 300 people, many of whom were young students.

Here's what Francis said:

When you find yourself in front of human suffering, you have to do what your heart brings you to do. Then later they might say, he did this because he had a political intention, or something else. They can say everything. But when you think of these men, these women, fathers and mothers who have lost their children, brothers and sisters who have lost brothers and sisters, and the very great pain of such a catastrophe...my heart. I am a priest, I feel that I have to come close to them, I feel that way. That’s first. I know that the consolation that I can give, my words, are not a remedy. I cannot give new life to those that are dead. But human closeness in these moments gives us strength, solidarity.

I remember when I was archbishop of Buenos Aires, I experienced two catastrophes of this kind. One was a fire in a dance hall, a pop-music concert, and 194 people died in it. That was in 1993. And then there was another catastrophe with trains, and I think 120 died in that. At those times I felt the same thing, to draw close to them. Human pain is strong and if we draw close in those sad moments we help a lot.

And I want to say something more. I took this ribbon (from relatives of the Sewold ferry disaster, which I am wearing) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day someone came close to me and said, “It is better remove it, you should be neutral." But listen, one cannot be neutral about human pain. I responded in that way. That’s how I felt.

CNN's Delia Gallagher has more in the video above.

- 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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