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Prosecutor: Pope faces threat from the mafia
Pope Francis at a ceremony in Rome, shortly his election as pontiff in March.
November 14th, 2013
02:59 PM ET

Prosecutor: Pope faces threat from the mafia

By Daniel Burke and Livia Borghese, CNN

ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis' crusade against corruption in the Catholic Church, including an overhaul of the scandal-scarred Vatican Bank, has put the new pontiff in the Italian mafia's crosshairs, according to two organized crime experts.

"The strong will of Pope Francis, aiming to disrupt the gangrene power centers, puts him at risk. He disturbs the mafia very much," Nicola Gratteri, a top anti-mafia prosecutor in Italy, told CNN on Thursday.

"I don't have precise information about a plan of the mafia against Pope Francis," Gratteri continued. "But if I did, I wouldn't say."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Crime • Leaders • Money & Faith • Pope Francis

Pope Francis' first year
November 12th, 2013
03:49 PM ET

Pope Francis won the Internet. Literally.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - It's official: Pope Francis is the most talked-about person on the planet.

More folks have been chatting about the popular new pontiff online this year than Edward Snowden, Kate Middleton or even the Internet's favorite bad girl, Miley Cyrus.

That's according to the 14th annual survey from the Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based company that trackers top talkers on the web. The GLM says their rankings are based on an analysis of English-language blogs, social media and 275,000 electronic and online news media.

The GLM broke their research into three categories: top words, top phrases and top names.

Besides being the Internet's top name, the Pope's Twitter handle, @Pontifex, was the fourth most talked about word thus far in 2013.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • Internet • Leaders • Media • Pope Francis

Billy Graham: 'America's pastor'
November 9th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

How Billy Graham became an American icon

Opinion by Molly Worthen, special to CNN

(CNN) – Under ordinary circumstances, Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch are probably not in the habit of attending the birthday parties of elderly Christian preachers in the North Carolina mountains.

But they were both among the hundreds of well-wishers at the party on Thursday marking Billy Graham’s 95th birthday.

Graham spent his career leading revivals around the globe, following a long tradition of evangelists who have traveled far and wide to urge sinners to accept Christ. But his birthday guest list shows that he is no ordinary preacher. He is a cultural icon, the most famous face of traditional Protestant Christianity.

“We need Billy Graham's message to be heard, I think, today more than ever," former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the crowd.

MORE ON CNN: Billy Graham turns 95 at star-studded birthday

What, exactly, is that message—and what accounts for its mass appeal? Now that Billy is 95, I wonder: is there anyone who can fill his shoes?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • evangelicals • Faith Now • Leaders • Opinion

November 7th, 2013
06:08 PM ET

Billy Graham turns 95 at star-studded birthday

By Phil Gast, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Billy Graham took people to church, perhaps for the last time, as hundreds joined the iconic evangelist Thursday evening for his 95th birthday.

A guest list that included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Rev. Rick Warren and businessmen Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump came to pay tribute to a man beloved for his humility and faithfulness.

Because the frail Graham no longer has the strength to speak behind a lectern, his enduring message of salvation through Jesus Christ came in the form of "The Cross," a 30-minute DVD that made its debut at the celebration.

"He is my spiritual hero," said entertainer Ricky Skaggs shortly before the celebration began at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. "He exemplifies brokenness and humility."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • evangelicals • Leaders • Protestant • Sarah Palin

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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

Rand Paul: Obama won't stop war on Christianity
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says the Obama administration has not countered Muslim extremists.
October 11th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Rand Paul: Obama won't stop war on Christianity

Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky devoted his speech to the socially conservative Values Voter Summit to “a war on Christianity” that is being waged by “fanatics of Islam.”

Much of Paul’s speech was a list of violence against Christians across the Muslim world, highlighting what he said was “not a little problem” and something that is “not going away quickly.”

“Across the globe, Christians are under attack almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages or we lived under early pagan Roman rule,” Paul said. “This administration does nothing to stop it and it can be argued that it is giving aid and comfort to those who tolerate these crimes.”

FULL STORY
- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Foreign policy • Islam • Leaders • Persecution • Religious liberty • Religious violence

October 9th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

Senate chaplain: Shutdown is 'madness'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - The federal shutdown has found its angry prophet.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black is usually a calm, pastoral presence on Capitol Hill, doling out spiritual wisdom and moral counsel to his high-powered flock.

But the Seventh-Day Adventist and former Navy rear admiral is mad as hell about the shutdown - and he's letting the Senate, and the Lord, know about it.

"Lord, when the federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of (soldiers) dying on far-away battlefields, it's time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough," Black said in his prayer opening the Senate on Wednesday.

"Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness," Black continued, citing the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, who was no mean critic of government incompetence himself. "Forgive us. Reform us. And make us whole."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Ethics • Leaders

The quotable pope: Francis fuels debate
September 21st, 2013
11:41 AM ET

Can Pope Francis make his vision a reality?

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN

ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis has sketched a vision of a Catholic Church that’s more welcoming – to women, to homosexuals, to divorced and remarried believers, to pretty much everybody –- and less invested in the culture wars.

In a now famous interview published Thursday, the pope said he knows some militants want him to toss around more fire and brimstone. But he insists that Catholic positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage are already well known, and anyway, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

None of that implies a change in church teaching, but it does suggest a fairly serious shift in tone. The question now becomes, is this just the pope talking? Or is he capable of bringing the rest of the church along with him?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Leaders • Pope Francis

September 17th, 2013
09:59 PM ET

Rick Warren on guns, God and son's tragic death

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Lake Forest, California (CNN) — In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.

"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.

"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."

Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980, growing it from a small congregation to a multisite megachurch with some 20,000 weekly worshippers.

Warren is also author of the spiritual self-help guide “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, with more 36 million copies sold.

But even as the Warrens grew in prominence - attending conferences with presidents and prime ministers - their son Matthew struggled with borderline personality disorder and deep depression, they said during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Death • Evangelical • Faith • Faith Now • Guns • Leaders • TV-Piers Morgan • Violence

White churches uncommonly quiet after Zimmerman verdict
The Rev. Anthony Evans of the National Black Church Initiative leads a demonstration outside the Department of Justice.
July 20th, 2013
08:27 AM ET

White churches uncommonly quiet after Zimmerman verdict

By Jeffrey Weiss, special to CNN

(CNN) Even before the jury read their verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a number of black religious leaders had responses at the ready.

The voices of white pastors and predominantly white churches and religious groups? Much harder to find.

Nearly a week later, some denominations that often weigh in on matters of national policy have yet to go on the public record. It's particularly notable in the leadership of the Catholic Church, the country's largest religious body.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Black issues • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Crime • Discrimination • Faith Now • Leaders • Media • Politics • Prejudice • Race • Violence • Weapons

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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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