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March 28th, 2013
01:25 PM ET

Why is the pope washing prisoners’ feet?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) — In ancient times, when roads were bad and footwear was worse, the washing of a guest's feet was a required sign of hospitality. Today when someone comes to your home, you’re more likely to offer to take their coat and bring them a beverage rather then have the help fetch a basin to refresh their worn feet.

The gesture of a servant's washing a newly arrived guest’s feet is sprinkled throughout the Jewish and Christian scriptures. That the characters in question were respectable, hospitable, and well off would have been culturally recognizable to earlier readers. In the Christian tradition, one story of feet washing entirely changed the paradigm.

In the Biblical accounts of the Easter story, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey to adoring crowds. Just a few days later he gathers his 12 disciples for what would be their Last Supper before he was crucified.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith Now • Jesus • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

March 23rd, 2013
10:00 AM ET

New pope, old pope meet for lunch

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

Castel Gandolfo (CNN)–Pope Francis is having lunch Saturday with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in what may be an encounter unprecedented in Church history.

Since a new pope usually takes the reins only following the death of his predecessor, this is a rare occurrence.

Francis, who was inaugurated as the new head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on Tuesday, has made some changes since taking the helm - most notably by adopting a simpler, personal style and calling for the Church to focus on serving the poor and needy.

The new pontiff was flown to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter for the lunch date.

Read the full story here

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

Pope Francis: First Catholic leader from Latin America
March 13th, 2013
02:38 PM ET

Pope Francis: First Catholic leader from Latin America

Rome (CNN) - Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff of the modern era, revealed himself to the world from a balcony at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Jorge Bergogolio, who served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, took the name Francis shortly after being elected by cardinals in what was apparently the fifth round of voting on the second day of the conclave.

"As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome," Francis told a cheering crowd of thousands packed into St. Peter's Square.

"It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from faraway. ... Here I am. I would like to thank you for your embrace."

The new pope called on the thousands packed into the square - and those watching around the world - to pray for him before he delivered a blessing.

Bergogolio, 76, is the first pope to take the name after St. Francis of Assisi, revered among Catholics for his work with the poor.

The new pontiff is considered a straight shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing.

Live blog: Argentina's Bergogolio elected new pope

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Vatican

Black smoke after first votes on 2nd day of conclave to pick new pope
March 13th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

Black smoke after first votes on 2nd day of conclave to pick new pope

By Laura Smith-Spark, Hada Messia and Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Black smoke poured from the chimney fixed to the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday morning, indicating that the cardinals' first two votes of the day were inconclusive.

The 115 voting cardinals are taking part in the second day of the secretive conclave to elect a new pope.

They will have two more opportunities to vote later Wednesday.

A two-thirds majority is required to confirm a new pontiff to step into the shoes left empty by the historic resignation of Benedict XVI at the end of last month.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

Enhance your conclave experience technologically
Want the latest news out of the conclave to pick the next pope? There's an app for that.
March 12th, 2013
01:04 PM ET

Enhance your conclave experience technologically

By Kelly Marshall Smoot, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Hoping to enhance the conclave experience, some new apps and websites are using technology to bring a centuries-old, top-secret tradition of selecting the next pontiff one that still relies on smoke signals to Catholics and pope watchers around the world.

Logos Bible Software designed Conclave, a free app, and had a working prototype within 48 hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced he intended to resign.

"At first we thought we didn't have time for it, and then we decided to go for it," said Andrew Jones, director of Catholic products for Logos Bible Software, about the process of developing the app. "Never before has technology been so accessible for such a specific task. Generating a new piece of software this quickly, or customizing it for such a brief event, was previously unheard of."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Technology

Survey: Africans ready for African pope
March 12th, 2013
08:05 AM ET

Survey: Africans ready for African pope

By Sarah Brown, CNN

What are your thoughts on who the next Pope could, or should be? Tell us

(CNN) - Thousands of Africans have expressed their hopes that the next pope will be the first from their continent - with a majority believing it would mean the Catholic Church becoming more conservative.

The survey of 20,000 people, conducted on mobile phones across 11 nations, also exposed big divisions among Africans about the future direction of the church, including faith, homosexuality and race.

"An African pope will bring about more unity on the continent and confidence in Africans," said one woman from Zimbabwe, while a young Nigerian man polled said an African pope "will eradicate immoralities, such as same-sex marriage."

CNN commissioned the survey, partnering with Jana.com, which has pioneered polling in developing countries with fast-growing mobile networks.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

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

Papal conclave: By the numbers
American Cardinals head to a special Mass Tuesday at St. Peter's Basilica before they enter the conclave to elect a new pope.
March 12th, 2013
04:38 AM ET

Papal conclave: By the numbers

Rome (CNN) - The conclave in numbers:

115: Number of cardinal electors in the conclave to elect the new pope

67: Number of cardinal electors appointed by Benedict XVI

48: Number of cardinal electors appointed by John Paul II

77: Number of votes to be elected pope (2/3 of 115, rounded up)

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

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

March 12th, 2013
04:01 AM ET

Answering the call to priesthood

(CNN)–CNN's Chris Cuomo chats with two young New Yorkers who, despite sacrifices, are working to join priesthood.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith Now • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinals gather one last time before conclave to elect new pope
March 11th, 2013
07:48 PM ET

Cardinals gather one last time before conclave to elect new pope

By Michael Pearson. Richard Allen Greene and Dan Rivers, CNN

Rome (CNN) – The Sistine Chapel is ready. The new pope's clothes are laid out. Now it's up to the cardinals.

The work to elect a successor to retired Pope Benedict XVI begins in earnest Tuesday, with a morning Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

The service - open to the public - will be the last public event featuring the 115 cardinals who will choose the new spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

Cardinals taking part in the process will then walk to the Sistine Chapel, chanting prayers as they go, to begin the secret election called the conclave.

After that, the only clue the world will have of what is happening inside will be periodic puffs of smoke from a copper chimney installed over the weekend in the Sistine Chapel.

Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI

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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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