December 5th, 2013
01:33 PM ET
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
November 27th, 2013
02:49 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - When the State Department announced it was moving its Vatican embassy to a compound shared with the U.S. Embassy in Italy, some former ambassadors and conservative American Catholics were outraged.
Former ambassadors to the Holy See said moving that embassy would diminish the stature of the mission and conservative Catholic activists seized on the issue.
Addressing the growing controversy in Rome, the State Department arranged a briefing for reporters on Monday with an unnamed senior official who said the purpose for the move was to save money and increase security.
A spokesman for the Vatican said the move was well within the Holy See's requirements for embassies and that relations with the United States are far from strained.
October 29th, 2013
11:37 AM ET
Opinion by Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) - This is a post about the instantly infamous “obstruction” call that ended Game 3 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. But it starts with an epiphany I had years ago about Vatican law.
This epiphany came in the form of a 2005 op-ed on gay Catholic priests, written by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.
As a long-time observer of all things Vatican, Allen was trying to explain to American readers why there will always be gay priests. In so doing, he drew a sharp distinction between Italian law (which holds sway in the Vatican) and Anglo-Saxon law (which prevails in the United States).
October 23rd, 2013
02:10 PM ET
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
October 15th, 2013
02:07 PM ET
By Daniel Burke and Hada Messia, CNN
ROME (CNN) - The Italian branch of a Catholic sect with a history of anti-Semitism held funeral rites on Tuesday for a convicted Nazi war criminal, despite protests from Jewish groups and the local mayor.
Crowds packed the streets outside San Pio X Church in Albano, a small town south of Rome, chanting "Executioner!" and kicking the hearse carrying Erich Priebke's body as entered the church compound on Tuesday.
A funeral Mass was celebrated for Priebke but his casket was kept outside, according to a priest from the church who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The absolution rite, which includes a prayer for clemency for the deceased, was also given outside the church, in the courtyard inside San Pio X's compound, the priest said.
Priebke's body is now being held in a military airport outside Rome.
The church funeral plans for Priebke sparked an outcry in the United States.
September 24th, 2013
02:05 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) – Retired Pope Benedict XVI says he never tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, breaking his post-retirement silence to address one of the greatest threats to his legacy as a church leader.
In a lengthy letter published in La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, the former pope answered theological and moral arguments from Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician who had written about Benedict in 2011.
Earlier this month, La Repubblica also published a letter to its atheist editor from Pope Francis, Benedict's successor.
September 19th, 2013
11:01 AM ET
(CNN) - Pope Francis said the church has the right to express its opinions but not to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians, expanding on explosive comments he made in July about not judging homosexuals.
In a wide-ranging interview published Thursday, the pope also said that women must play a key role in church decisions and brushed off critics who say he should be more vocal about fighting abortion and gay marriage.
Moreover, if the church fails to find a "new balance" between its spiritual and political missions, the pope warned, its moral foundation will "fall like a house of cards."
The interview, released by Jesuit magazines in several different languages and 16 countries on Thursday, offers perhaps the most expansive and in-depth view of Francis' vision for the Roman Catholic Church.
The pope's comments don't break with Catholic doctrine or policy, but instead show a shift in approach, moving from censure to engagement.
September 19th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Here at America magazine, we’ve been anticipating the exclusive interview with Pope Francis for Jesuit journals worldwide for weeks.
We’ve lived with the 12,000-word article we’ve titled “A Big Heart Open to God,” and, in a sense, with the pope over these last several days.
So let me suggest what I feel to be the most important parts of this remarkable interview. To focus, I’ll highlight a few quotes and unpack them.
September 1st, 2013
03:26 AM ET
Opinion by Jeffrey Weiss, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Sunni and Shia Muslims are killing each other in several nations, most notably in Syria's escalating civil war.
Coptic Christians churches are being torched in Egypt.
In Israel, what passes for peace talks has restarted after years of murder and brutality.
Religion is a common thread in each conflict. But why? Don’t these folks worship the same deity?
August 30th, 2013
12:37 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – In another precedent-shattering moment for Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, successor of St. Peter and the head of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide has taken what may be the first papal selfie.
The pontiff posed for the photo with young Italian pilgrims Wednesday at St. Peter's Basilica.
The image of Francis mugging for a cell phone photo with the Italian teens charged through social media when the papal newspaper L'Osservatore Romano released the photo Thursday.
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.