Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope
Comedian Stephen Colbert roasted Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Thursday night.
October 18th, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) -- Declaring himself  "American's most famous Catholic," comedian Stephen Colbert roasted church leaders at a charity event in New York on Thursday, taking aim at Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

"As an observant Catholic, I believe the Pope is infallible," said Colbert, a Communion-class teacher at a parish in New Jersey. "But he's also wrong about a lot of things."

Colbert, whose bombastic persona on the "Colbert Report" often takes a conservative slant on Christianity, poked fun at the new Pope's humble lifestyle, saying that if the pontiff were in charge of the white-tie charity event, it would have been held at an IHOP, not New York's glitzy Waldorf-Astoria hotel.


- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Leaders • Media • Pope Francis

August 23rd, 2013
10:12 AM ET

Note to all Catholic lawmakers: expect to be getting a call from your local archdiocese.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)–With the goal of urging the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Catholic Church is organizing a targeted effort to push immigration reform in the pews and target Catholic lawmakers – particularly Republicans – who may be on the fence over the politically tenuous bill.

The movement, which was first reported in The New York Times, will include coordinated immigration reform sermons on September 8, as well as targeted messaging of Catholic lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Immigration • Mass • United States

No Communion for same-sex marriage supporters? Archdiocese reframes comments
Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron gives communion to a parishioner.
April 8th, 2013
06:14 PM ET

No Communion for same-sex marriage supporters? Archdiocese reframes comments

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Are Catholics who support same-sex marriage and take Communion like people who commit perjury?

That was the stance taken by Detroit's archbishop on Sunday, after an academic with ties to the church wrote that Catholics in favor of gay marriage should skip Communion.

In Sunday's Detroit Free Press, the archbishop said Catholics who both support same-sex marriage and take Communion would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."

On Monday, though, the Archdiocese of Detroit tried to reframe Archbishop Allen Vigneron's comments.

“For a Catholic to receive Holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches,’ ” Vigneron told the paper. “In effect, they would contradict themselves.”

On Monday, the archdiocese looked to step back and add context to the statement.

“The archbishop's focal point here is not ‘gay marriage’; it is a Catholic’s reception of Holy Communion,” Joe Kohn, the archdiocese spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “If a Catholic publicly opposes the church on a serious matter of the church’s teaching, any serious matter - for example, whether it be a rejection of the divinity of Christ, racist beliefs, support for abortion or support for redefining marriage - that would contradict the public affirmation they would make of the church's beliefs by receiving Communion.”


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Politics • Same-sex marriage

My Take: Benedict's 'master plan'
Pope Benedict XVI addresses faithful for the last time upon arrival in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on February 28.
March 12th, 2013
08:04 AM ET

My Take: Benedict's 'master plan'

Editor's note: Sebastian Gomes, a producer at Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada, was an accredited observer to the Vatican Synod of Bishops in October. He is acting as an assistant to the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a spokesman for the Holy See during the papal transition.

By Sebastian Gomes, Special to CNN

(CNN) Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by resigning last month, but before leaving the throne of St. Peter vacant, he seems to have spent months, if not years, charting a course for the future of the Catholic Church.

In hindsight we see how calculated Benedict’s thinking was, and not only about his resignation.

He called an unexpected consistory to be held on November 24 in which he created six new cardinals, none of them coming from Europe.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Dolan charms worshippers at Rome Mass
Cardinal Timothy Dolan waves to supporters after celebrating Mass at this titular church in Rome.
March 10th, 2013
11:51 AM ET

Cardinal Dolan charms worshippers at Rome Mass

By Chris Cuomo and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Rome (CNN) – Crowds lined the walls and spilled out the front door of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monte Mario on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the gregarious American Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, who smiled broadly as he came into the church, stopping to wave to photographers and kiss a baby whose parents were holding him up.

Dolan has made the short lists of some Vatican watchers as a likely choice to be elected as the next pope by the College of Cardinals, a designation called "papabili" in Italian.

A local officiant began the service by saying it was great to have Dolan at the church close to Easter.

"All these people are showing the power of the church," he said.

Dolan thanked the officiant in Italian.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Italy • Mass • Pope • Vatican

February 23rd, 2013
04:48 PM ET

Vatican denies swirling rumors as pope prepares to step down

By Hada Messia, Ben Wedeman and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Rome (CNN) – The Vatican sought Saturday to tamp down rumors involving sex, money and gay priests that have been swirling in the Italian media and have been linked by some to Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign.

The strongly-worded denial came on the eve of the pope's last Angelus blessing, expected to draw huge crowds of the faithful, before he stands down on Thursday.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said it was "deplorable" that as the time for the Roman Catholic cardinals to elect a new pope approaches, a rash of "often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" has appeared.

Such unfounded stories "cause serious damage to persons and institutions," he said, and are an attempt to influence the cardinals' free will in the election "through public opinion."

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

February 21st, 2013
08:50 PM ET

Milwaukee lawsuits shadow N.Y. archbishop

By Ted Rowlands and Kathleen Johnston, CNN

(CNN)–He's the top Roman Catholic figure in the United States, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the princes of the church who will decide on a new pope.

But Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is now under fire for how his old archdiocese in Milwaukee shifted money as it faced lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse by priests in Wisconsin.

Dolan sat for a deposition with lawyers for some of the victims on Wednesday, the New York archdiocese confirmed. He was Milwaukee's archbishop from 2002 to 2009, a period in which the archdiocese moved $55 million into a fund for cemetery maintenance and as much as $74 million to a fund for individual parishes.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

February 18th, 2013
09:55 AM ET

Could Pope Benedict be put on trial?

(CNN)–Pope Benedict XVI's resignation brings calls for his prosecution. CNN's Nic Robertson investigates the claims.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Courts • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

The pope's mixed legacy with Latino Catholics
Pope Benedict alienated Latino Catholics because of his fierce opposition to a popular movement in Latin America, scholars say.
February 15th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

The pope's mixed legacy with Latino Catholics

By John Blake, CNN

They are the largest group in the Roman Catholic Church, and the next pope might even come from their midst. Yet few have heard how Latino Catholics regard the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

For many Latino Catholics, Benedict’s legacy is mixed. They will forever tie him to his fierce opposition to liberation theology, a controversial movement that sought to improve the impoverished lives of Latinos living under oppressive governments.

Benedict, who resigned Monday citing his advancing age, was one of the church’s most visible opponents of liberation theology, a movement that began in Latin America in the 1960s. It mingled Marxist critiques of poverty with an insistence that the church display a “preferential option” for the poor.

Benedict’s view created more distance between priests and the poor people they served, says Jennifer Hughes, a Catholic Church scholar at the University of California, Riverside.


- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Mass • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Same-sex marriage • South America • Vatican

Why did the Pope resign?
February 11th, 2013
02:26 PM ET

Why did the Pope resign?

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.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • 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.