By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Pope Francis called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man and reportedly told her that she could receive the sacrament of Communion, according to the woman's husband, in an apparent contradiction of Catholic law.
Julio Sabetta, from San Lorenzo in the Pope's home country, said his wife, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, spoke with Francis on Monday.
Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona wrote to the pontiff in September to ask for clarification on the Communion issue, according to her husband, who said his divorced status had prevented her from receiving the sacrament.
"She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong," Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate.
A Vatican spokesman confirmed the telephone call but would not comment on the conversation's content.
"It's between the Pope and the woman," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.
Opinion by Chris Lowney
(CNN) – Every day, millions of Americans perform a task that epitomizes Pope Francis’ leadership style: They do the laundry.
I came to that somewhat surprising conclusion while talking to Jesuit priests who lived with the future Pope, then known as the Rev. Jorge Bergoglio, during the early 1980s. At the time, they were young Jesuit seminarians, and he was their “boss,” the rector of their 100-member community.
“He was very demanding when it came to studies,” one of them told me. “Do what you’re doing and do it well,” he used to say.
But the rector wanted the budding Jesuits to learn from people, not just from books.
“He used to send us to the opera and also have us clean the seminary bathrooms, because he wanted us to be adaptable to all kinds of situations.”
The seminarians all did volunteer work in poor communities, and one of them remembers Bergoglio telling them that “closeness to the poor is important for the formation of a priest’s heart.”
His mantra at the time was: “You’re going to learn from these people before you teach them anything,” the young Jesuits recall.
By Eric Marrapodi and Dan Merica, CNN
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(CNN) – Despite calls for a new pope from Latin America or Africa, the areas of the Catholic Church experiencing the most rapid growth, the power in the College of Cardinals is decidedly European.
The rapid growth of the Catholic population in Latin America and Africa has not yet led to a proportional balancing of the College of Cardinals. The makeup of the college skews overwhelmingly European, while the majority of the congregants are increasingly not European.
“It (the College of Cardinals) doesn't reflect the population, it reflects the power structure,” said William D’Antonio, a professor at The Catholic University of America. “It is like a corporation. The corporation picks its own board of directors. You might own some stock in it, but you are really fighting a battle against a corporation here.”
Dubbed the “princes of the church,” the cardinals’ main role is to select the next pope, which is done in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Cardinals are handpicked by the pope both to choose his successor and to assist in the daily needs of the church. When they are elevated to the role they take on a red hat, symbolic of their willingness to shed their own blood for their faith.
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.
By Eric Marrapodi and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
(CNN) – Hours after Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement Monday, speculation was surging over who might be his successor and what part of the world the new pontiff could be from.
The 118 cardinals who will pick the next pope are also in the running for the job. Those cardinals are from around the globe, but more than half of them hail from European nations, according to Vatican statistics.
Worldwide, the demographic trends among the Roman Catholic Church's nearly 1.2 billion members show a different breakdown, with the church seeing only a trickle of new members in Europe, while membership has grown significantly in Africa.
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
(CNN)–Sebastian Errazuriz has used art to take on an array of issues: New York's death rate, the Occupy movement, military suicide, children with disabilities, the brutal reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now, the Brooklyn-based artist is taking aim at what he sees as religious extremism.
At a party this weekend celebrating New York Design Week, which begins today, the Chilean-born artist plans to hand out 100 "Christian Popsicles" made of "frozen holy wine transformed into the blood of Christ" and featuring a crucifix instead of the tongue depressor that typically hosts the frozen treats, he said.
An image of Jesus Christ positioned traditionally on the cross is visible once the ice pop is consumed. As for the frozen wine, Errazuriz said, he concealed it in a cooler and took it into a church, where it was "inadvertently blessed by the priest while turning wine into the blood of Christ during the Eucharist."
Errazuriz will hand out the wine creations on Saturday at Gallery R'Pure in Manhattan's Flatiron District before the "Love It or Leave it" exhibit.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
One of the rescued Chilean miners shed new light Thursday on the intense religious and spiritual experiences of many of the miners while trapped underground for 52 days last year, saying that faith was a key part of surviving t he ordeal.
"We realized we had only one alternative and that was God himself," said Jose Henriquez in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast on in Washington, speaking to a crowd that included President Barack Obama.
"We were different creeds and churches," Henriquez said, speaking in Spanish with simultaneous translation. "So I got them in a circle and made sure everyone could pray in a participatory fashion. And as we prayed we began to know the presence and blessing among us of God in the mine. We were strengthened, our spirits were revived.”
About a dozen or so of the 33 miners freed in Chile this week after spending more than two months underground returned Sunday to the mouth of the mine to offer thanks during a private Mass.
For many of the miners, it was the first time back since their dramatic Wednesday rescue that was watched by the world.
Just the miners, their families and a handful of local officials were invited to attend the service.
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Omar Reygadas, 56, kneels down with a Bible after reaching the surface.
Mario Sepulveda said he buried 40 years of his life down there. "I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won."
Mario Gomez used to get annoyed that his wife asked him to say daily prayers. But trapped in darkness, he revisited his relationship with God and asked that a crucifix and statuettes of saints be sent down so the miners could construct a shrine.
As miners were being pulled from Chile's San Jose mine Wednesday, most were wearing tan T-shirts over their coveralls. The Chilean government told reporters the green coveralls were designed to help absorb the sweat as they ascended to the top.
But Wes Little, a CNN editor/producer in Atlanta, wondered why the miners were wearing the T-shirt over their coveralls. He noticed a logo on the T-shirt's left sleeve for the Jesus Film Project.
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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.