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Philip Seymour Hoffman in his own words
February 6th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

Why Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves a Catholic funeral

Opinion by Greg Kandra, special to CNN

(CNN) – When the news broke the other day that Philip Seymour Hoffman would receive a Catholic funeral on Friday, a few people on social media expressed surprise.

One commenter on my Facebook page questioned whether it was appropriate for the church to provide a high-profile Catholic funeral to someone whom she described as "a public sinner."

As  you probably know, Hoffman, one of this generation’s most celebrated actors, died last weekend of an apparent heroin overdose.

The Facebook critic recanted her comment when I explained that the funeral will not be high-profile. Instead, the Hoffman family is holding a private ceremony Friday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York.

Although Hoffman was nominated for Oscars twice for playing religious figures - a Catholic priest in “Doubt” in 2009, a cult leader in “The Master" in 2012 - his own faith wasn’t widely known.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Entertainment • Faith • Mass • Opinion

Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
January 13th, 2014
12:00 PM ET

Breastfeeding in church? Pope says yes

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Amid the iconic art in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, Pope Francis told mothers that it's acceptable to breastfeed their children in public, even in holy sites like churches.

Children's voices, even when crying, make "the most beautiful choir of all," Francis said during a service in which he baptized 32 children.

"Some will cry because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry," the Pope said. "If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus."

The Sistine Chapel, with its famous frescoes by Michelangelo, is the official chapel of the Apostolic Palace, traditionally the papal residence. Francis, though, lives in the Vatican guesthouse, Casa Santa Marta, saying it better suits his low-key style.

The Pope's remarks echo statements he made to an Italian newspaper in December in which he tied breastfeeding to the problem of global hunger.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church • Ethics • Faith & Health • Food • gender issues • Health • Houses of worship • Mass • Pope Francis • Sacred Spaces • Women's issues

JFK: America's first Catholic president
November 23rd, 2013
07:13 AM ET

How Catholic was John F. Kennedy?

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) When John F. Kennedy was a boy, his mother counseled her children on Good Fridays to pray for a peaceful death.

Young Jack joked that he’d rather pray for two pet dogs.

If you’re looking for the CliffsNotes version of Kennedy’s Catholicism, that anecdote touches on the key themes: the pious Irish mother, the light-hearted irreverence, the ever-present prospect of death.

But there’s much more to the story.

In the words of one biographer, Kennedy was Mr. Saturday Night but also Mr. Sunday Morning, rarely missing a Mass.

He was famously unfaithful to his wife but fiercely loyal to his church, even when it threatened his quest for the presidency.

One scholar suggests that Kennedy was becoming more religious as the Cold War wore on. Another says that Kennedy’s public displays of piety were little more than political lip service.

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death and it was far from peaceful, as we all know almost every aspect of his life is again under the media microscope. But for all the ballyhoo about Kennedy being the first and only Catholic president, the topic of his faith remains largely untouched.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Leaders • Mass • Politics • Prejudice

Thousands fasting and praying for peace in Syria
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops tweeted this image on September 6.
September 7th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Thousands fasting and praying for peace in Syria

By Daniel BurkeCNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – After morning Mass on most Saturdays, you’d find the Rev. Dan Atkins cutting into a thick stack of pancakes or digging into a plate of eggs. But this Saturday’s menu is a bit spartan.

“I’ll probably just have coffee and a piece of toast,” said Atkins, the pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in New Albany, Indiana.

The Catholic priest isn’t on a diet. Rather, he’s one of many believers across the country - and throughout the world - heeding the call of Pope Francis to fast and pray for peace in Syria on Saturday.

“It’s a way to be in solidarity with people who are suffering terribly from war,” said Atkins, a native of southern Indiana. “I’m going to be thinking about the children, the kids, affected by this terrible conflict.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith Now • Mass • Politics • Pope Francis • Prayer • Syria

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.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

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

Pope Francis tells youth that faith cures discontent
Pope Francis speaks to the crowd from a balcony of the San Joaquin Episcopal Palace on July 26, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
July 25th, 2013
07:50 PM ET

Pope Francis tells youth that faith cures discontent

By Helena Cavendish de Moura, for CNN

RIO DE JANEIRO (CNN) – With a blasting medley of bossa nova music as a prelude, Pope Francis addressed about a million worshippers in Copacabana beach on Thursday, lacing his message to a new generation of Catholics with Brazilian street jargon.

"Bota Fe" - put on faith - was the antidote to what he called growing materialism and discontent, the pontiff said.

"What can we do? Bota Fe," he said. "If we want to have real meaning and fulfillment, as you want and you deserve ... put on faith."

The thread of the pontiff's speech resonated with Brazil's youth, many of whom are expressing disenchantment with their government.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Brazil • Catholic Church • Mass • Pope Francis

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Faith Now • Italy • Mass • Pope • 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.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

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

Blessing of Pets ceremony
October 8th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

Photos: Blessing of pets ceremony

(CNN)-Horses, dogs, and rabbits around the world headed to Mass on Sunday for the annual blessing of animals.

Catholic churches around the world hold the annual blessings of pets on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Check out more of CNN's best photography.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Faith Now • Mass

Six Supreme Court justices attend Red Mass
September 30th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

Six Supreme Court justices attend Red Mass

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)–Six of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington on Sunday. The event’s speakers spoke about using faith in decision-making but largely stayed away from the controversial issues the court will face in the coming months.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan all attended the 60th annual Mass. This was Kagan’s first Red Mass.

Having six justices in attendance ties a record set in 2009. The only justices to not attend this year were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish. Kagan and Breyer, both of whom were in attendance, are also Jewish.

The annual Mass is an event put on by the Archdiocese of Washington and the John Carroll Society and aims to bring people together to pray for the members of the judiciary before the court begins hearing cases each year. It’s called the Red Mass because of the color of the garment worn by clergy.

FULL POST

- shirleyhenrycnn

Filed under: Catholic Church • Courts • Mass

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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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