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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

July 7th, 2014
11:11 AM ET

Pope: bishops 'accountable' for sex abuse

(CNN) – Catholic bishops "will be held accountable" for failing to protect children from sexual abuse, Pope Francis said Monday, his strongest acknowledgment yet of what abuse victims have been saying for decades: that the cover-ups have often been as bad as the crimes.

But without strong action to back up those words, such groups are likely to view Francis' comments as little more than lip service. Vatican officials have so far been reluctant to take action against bishops accused of concealing abuse.

In a homily given during a private Mass with six victims of church sexual abuse, Francis apologized for the abuse and asked for forgiveness.

"I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves," Francis said in the homily, according to a text of the statement provided by the Vatican.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

Vatican softens tone toward gays and lesbians
June 26th, 2014
12:14 PM ET

Vatican softens tone toward gays and lesbians

By Delia Gallagher, CNN

ROME (CNN) - The Vatican said Thursday that gays and lesbians must be treated with respect, their children may be baptized in the church, and admitted that Catholic priests are sometimes unsure about how to deal with same-sex couples.

There is a “certain unease at the challenge of accepting these people with a merciful spirit and, at the same time, holding to the moral teaching of the Church,” the Vatican said in a document, called an Instrumentum Laboris.

The 75-page document is a compilation of the results of a survey sent to 114 bishops’ conferences around the world.  Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod, said that 85% of the conferences responded to the survey.

The document will be used as a guideline for discussions at a synod, a meeting of top Catholic bishops convened by Pope Francis, to be held in Rome in October.

The official name of the synod is "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • Ethics • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Leaders • Pope Francis • Same-sex marriage • Sexuality

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 Editor

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

What the Pope's choice of new cardinals means
Pope Francis has named 19 new cardinals and shifted the balance of power in the church.
January 13th, 2014
09:19 AM ET

What the Pope's choice of new cardinals means

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, special to CNN

(CNN) Pope Francis' selection on Sunday of 19 new cardinals, the men who will select the next pope, seems aimed to help rebalance the church in important ways, passing over at least three influential American archbishops and naming several from the Southern Hemisphere.

First, there is a decided emphasis on Africa and Latin America, including poorer countries like Haiti and Burkina Faso.

Remember that the cardinals' most important duty is to elect the next pope. Francis is making sure that all parts of the world are adequately represented and today the majority of Catholics are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sixteen of the 19 new cardinals named by Francis on Sunday are younger than 80, which means they would be eligible to vote to the next pope. Of those 16, four are from the curia, or Vatican bureaucracy; two are from Europe; three are from North and Central America; three are from South America, including the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis' position before his papal election; two are from Africa and two from Asia.

The Pope's picks show that he wants the voice of the poor represented in the next conclave. Archbishop Chibly Langlois, 55, for example, will be the first-ever cardinal from Haiti. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, echoed this: “The choice of Cardinals of Burkina Faso and Haiti shows concern for people struck by poverty.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

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

Supreme Court delays contraception mandate for two Catholic nonprofits
December 31st, 2013
06:33 PM ET

Supreme Court delays contraception mandate for two Catholic nonprofits

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN)–
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily exempted two Catholic Church-affiliated nonprofits from requirements to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a brief order late Tuesday, hours before the controversial Obama administration mandates were set to go into effect.

The Little Sisters of the Poor – a charity congregation of Roman Catholic women in Denver – and the Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services had filed a lawsuit objecting to the contraception mandate, saying it violated their religious and moral beliefs. Some religious-affiliated groups were required to comply with contraception coverage or face hefty fines.

Sotomayor said the two groups were exempted from the mandates until at least Friday, when the federal government faces a deadline to file a legal response in the case.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Pope Francis

Archbishop accused of abuse, takes leave of absence
Archbishop John Nienstedt of Minnesota has been accused of inappropriate sexual touching.
December 17th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Archbishop accused of abuse, takes leave of absence

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) The Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been accused of inappropriately touching a boy and will take a voluntary leave of absence during an investigation of the incident, the archdiocese announced on Tuesday.

Archbishop John Nienstedt learned this weekend that a young man says the Catholic leader "inappropriately touched his buttocks" during a public photo session after a church ceremony, the archdiocese said. The accuser, who is a male minor, says the incident happened in 2009, according to the archdiocese.

"I do not know the individual involved; he has not been made known to me," Niendstedt said in a statement posted on the website of his archdiocese.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Sex abuse

Vatican unveils commission to combat sexual abuse
Pope Francis delivers a prayer from the window of his apartment at the Vatican on November 17.
December 5th, 2013
01:33 PM ET

Vatican unveils commission to combat sexual abuse

By Hada Messia, CNN

Rome (CNN)–Pope Francis is creating a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley announced Thursday in Rome.

The new commission is expected to tell church officials to collaborate with civil authorities and report cases of abuse, O'Malley said.

But he also said that the church has focused on the judicial aspect of sexual abuse in the past, and that Pope Francis now wants to focus on the pastoral side, and caring for victims.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

Archbishop: Mexican cartel threatened Catholic seminary
Mexican Archbishop, Norberto Rivera Carrera has called on parishioners to report extortion to authorities.
December 4th, 2013
11:56 AM ET

Archbishop: Mexican cartel threatened Catholic seminary

By Rafael Romo and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

(CNN) – The threatening calls reportedly came one after the other to Mexico's main Catholic seminary.

Callers, claiming to be from one of the country's feared drug cartels, offered an ominous warning: Pay up if you value the safety of your priests.

"They called several times. They identified themselves as the Familia Michoacana, but who knows?" Cardinal Norberto Rivera, archbishop of Mexico City, revealed at a Mass this week. "I spoke with the authorities. We made the appropriate report. Because they wanted us to pay. Because if not, they would kill one of us. They wanted to extort 60,000 pesos ($4,600)."

Reports of extortion have become increasingly common as drug cartels expand their reach in Mexico. But public denouncements of such attempts are rare.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

German 'Bling Bishop' suspended
October 23rd, 2013
02:10 PM ET

Vatican suspends German bishop amid spending investigation

By the CNN Belief Blog Editors

(CNN) - The Vatican said Wednesday it has suspended a German bishop who has come under fire for his extravagant lifestyle.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst is under investigation for his spending after his residence in Limburg, Germany, was renovated for $42 million.

The Vatican says Tebartz-Van Elst cannot carry out his ministry as long as the investigation in ongoing, and he's been ordered to stay outside his diocese.

Coined the "Bling Bishop," Tebartz-Van Elst, who is known as theologically conservative, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the cost overruns on the renovation are legitimate because surrounding structures had to be protected, including the old city wall.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Europe • Germany • Money & Faith • Pope Francis • Vatican

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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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