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Dispatch from pope's UK trip: Benedict's 'nice guy' effect
September 17th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Dispatch from pope's UK trip: Benedict's 'nice guy' effect

CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John L. Allen Jr. filed this report from London.

When Benedict XVI was elected to the papacy in April 2005, I published a book that recounted the last days of Pope John Paul II, the inside story of the conclave that elected his successor, and predicted where the new pontificate would go. After it appeared I dutifully dropped off a copy for Benedict with an aide, though I had no expectation the pope would actually read it.

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later the Vatican spokesperson, who was vacationing with Benedict in northern Italy, called me. He told me the pontiff had come down to breakfast that morning with my book in his hands, and he wished to relay a message.

“Please tell Herr Allen thank you for having written this book,” the spokesperson quoted him as saying, “especially the last part about the future of my papacy … because it has saved me the trouble of thinking about it for myself!”

That flash of papal humor illustrates what is perhaps the best-kept secret about Pope Benedict XVI, which is that whatever one might think of his views on gay marriage or his handling of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, he is, at bottom, a nice guy.

If some of the frost awaiting Benedict XVI on his trip to the United Kingdom now seems to be melting, that’s a large part of the reason why.

Over the years, people who’ve had personal contact with Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now Pope Benedict, have always been struck by the juxtaposition between his public profile and his private personality. In public, he often seems a polarizing and stern figure; in private, he’s gracious, humble, a great listener, and possessed of a great dry wit.

Typically, the only time most people get a glimpse of that personality is when the pope comes to their backyard on a foreign trip. What they usually see is a smiling, kindly man, not a fire-breathing cultural warrior.

In part, that’s a product of message. One hallmark of Benedict’s teaching is “Affirmative Orthodoxy,” meaning presenting traditional Catholic doctrine in the most positive fashion possible.

 The upbeat tone has been in evidence in the U.K., as Benedict began his trip yesterday by telling the Queen how much he admired Britain’s Christian and humanitarian traditions, among other things applauding the Northern Ireland peace agreement. This German pope even thanked the U.K. for standing up to the Nazis.

In part, too, Benedict’s personality breaks through in gestures and images. In Scotland, for example, he blessed a nine-year-old boy who had written to ask for prayers as he faces cancer, and British papers today were full of pictures of the pope kissing a toddler named Maria Tyszczak, the daughter of Polish immigrants to Glasgow.

The UK  is, of course, hardly the first place Benedict has faced a tough crowd.

He went to Turkey in 2006 shortly after igniting a storm of protest in the Muslim world with a speech that appeared to link Muhammad with violence. His trips to France in 2008 and the Czech Republic in 2009 took him into hostile secular territory, and when he traveled to the Israel and the Palestinian Territories last year, he was also walking a tightrope.

In every case, the trip exceeded expectations, in large part because personal contact with Benedict took the sting out of much of the criticism.

It remains to be seen how the rest of the trip will go, especially given the Vatican’s penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to public relations. It’s also an open question whether softening the pope’s image, by itself, is enough to call the trip a success, especially given the real challenges facing the Catholic Church, beginning with the sexual abuse crisis.

Nonetheless, given the skepticism and outright hostility that seemed poised to swamp the trip before it even began, if Brits at least come away seeing the pope as a nicer guy than they had been led to believe, the Vatican would probably take that and run.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Europe • Pope Benedict XVI • United Kingdom

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. wh4t

    reptile pope I can picture him with a forked tongue. hissing and laughing behind your back knowing you will stand on the front line for the serpent. Because he has you fooled. the connection in your brain is blocked by all the brainwashing.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  2. Yenta

    Nice guy or not nice guy, the Catholic Church has become more and more irrelevant with the secularization of the West.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Yenta,

      The Catholic Church is becoming irrelevant because of secularization of the West, you say? Is that why the Queen of England invited the Pope to visit her country? Because the Church is becoming irrelevant? Or was it to shore up what faith the British have and to stop the downhill slide toward secularization? She is a smart lady who knows the Pope is a holy man.

      September 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @CatholicMom

      I don't know who invited whom to visit the UK, but let's go with your basic premise that the Queen invited the criminal some call the pope...

      Your (il)logic is evident in a couple of ways: 1) in another thread you accused me of needing to shore up my atheist believes, as if needing shoring up is a bad thing, but you now seem to assert that shoring up the UK catholics is a good thing. I don't think you can have it both ways, but please do try to explain. 2) by your own statement, you recognize that UK catholics are becoming more secular – I suggest that as something diminishes, it usually becomes less relevent. So thank you for agreeing with us atheists!

      Also, we should not forget that the Queen is heavily invested in religion – she is the head of the anglican church (or is the church of england – I can't keep all the sects straight...) and was probably (high degree of certainty) brought up to not question religion. In other words, she is one of the gang of religious leaders that can be counted on to band together whenever religion is examined and found lacking. As nice and as smart as she appears to be (I'm actully a Canadian in support of keeping the monarchy primarily because of the current Queen and the way she has dealt with a number of situations...), she is not likely to do anything other than support religion in general, although one can hope for a death bed conversion to atheism.

      Any finally, thanks for making me think a little more about the Queen and her role in church atrocities. I was going to say more about how much I do like the Queen (particulary compared to pope-a-dope), but you've now got me wondering about the abuse of children within the anglican church (or whatever cult she is in), and what her role has, or has not, been if that branch of christianity is as rife with child molesters as the rcc. Have a nice day.

      September 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      HotAirAce,
      You start your post out with ‘I don’t know…’ that is true.
      Yes, the Pope was invited by the Queen.
      Since the Queen is the head of the Church in England [Anglican] she probably does not want any more Anglicans returning to Catholicism and most likely hoping to point out that Anglicans and Catholics can now remain friends just as they are without any further slipping away of Anglicans through the doors of the Catholic Church. It is the Anglicans that she may want to shore up. But any kind words from the Pope might be helpful to her cause.

      The Catholic Church is growing and spreading over the world. Sorry for your misunderstanding…..

      September 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @CatholicMom

      Your creativity and self-delusion are incredible...

      A few minutes on the web (web references removed to see if they're triggering moderation) would show you that while christianity is growing, it is not the fastest growing religion on the planet, nor is its growth rate keeping up with the population growth rate, despite high birth rates, not conversion, being a major driver. In other words, your brand is loosing market share. I recognize that I am not presenting data specific to catholicism – when I tried to dig a little deeper into the various sects allegedly based on JC, it looked more like a bun fight between the various sects – "My sect is growing, but I wouldn't want to be the other guy." sort of statements.

      With respect to the Queen inviting pope-a-dope to the UK, the church of england and the rcc are competing brands – please explain why the leader of one brand would invite the leader of a competive brand to shore up the adherents of the other? That would be like the CEO of Oracle inviting the CEO of IBM to shore up the employees of Oracle!

      With regard to the pope himself, I see that CNN will be airing an investigation into what he knew about child ab-use in 8 days. Will be very interesting to see what they've found, and what the reactions will be. Care to speculate on how the pope,and the rcc, will fair?

      Oh, I did poke around on the web a bit and my subjective view is that the Queen's church of england appears to have dealt with abuse by thier preists much better than the pop's rcc – perpaps the pope was in the UK to get crisis management lessons from the Queen.

      September 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      HotAirAce,

      Thanks of the creativity comment…but the self-delusion part I don’t understand. If I am delusional why would you be interested in asking me any further questions….?

      But since you did…

      You mentioned ‘christianity is growing’ and so we agree there.

      Anglicans and Catholics have much in common. Don’t kid yourself….The Queen probably sees an even greater exodus next time around and because she loves her people she wishes to help with the transition back to the Church that Jesus Christ founded. Perhaps she wishes to learn what needs to take place so the transition works as smoothly as possible. Also, she may wish to learn more about Catholicism since so many of her people have gone back to the Catholic Church.
      They are having some religious problems in that part of the world and she may desire council with the Pope about such matters. These are just a few of my thoughts as to why the Queen invited the Pope for a visit.

      And why would you want the Queen to convert to atheism on her death bed?

      These blogs shows me how little people really know about the Catholic Church and some can barely carry on a conversation about it, without using suppositions, hate-filled accusations, and absolute falsehoods….I don’t expect it to end real soon as there are some who like stirring the pot of soup with little meat….

      Everyone knows that there is pedophilia in other religions ….you just found that out?

      September 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
  3. Tony

    I'm not here to convince anyone. U dont have to believe what I say. I'm just telling you what happens to me.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Tony

      Here's another weird phenomena. My wife and I use this site and we get marriage tips. One day my dog was dying of parvo and we didn't know if she was going to make it. We stayed up all night taking care of her for almost a week and we were praying and very hopeful. The day she died we checked the tip early in the morning. It said:

      September 1, 2010

      “Grief is the price we pay for love.” (Diana Lampen) When a stranger is rude, or gets sick or dies, we feel bad but move on. When the same thing happens with a spouse, child, or close friend, it hurts much more and longer. We hurt because we love.

      We knew that God was speaking to us that day. Sure enough we took her to the vet a little before nood and my puppy died. Sept 1 2010. (http://foryourmarriage.org/september-1-2010/)

      Coincidence? I don't think so! It was God preparation for the inevitable death to occur. In fact this month is "Our Lady of Sorrows." I feel this was God's way of making real the experiences Mary underwent. Sound strange? Sure does. Why he chooses me and shows me these signs I dunno. I do know God talks to everyone. You just need to open up your eyes and your hearts to receive grace.

      Am I a religious zealot? Not always. I've had my 75+ girls, drugs clubbing and such. But God turned it around.

      September 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Tony

      Well..... as for your postings.... I don't agree, nor like them at all.

      However, your experiences whether delusional or.... drug induced, or hey.....maybe it is the big G... coming to talk to you.. But, if you have turned your life around and you are a good life affirming loving and peaceful person....then, good for you...

      Peace....

      September 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Tony

      @peace2all
      Are physical manifestations delusional? Tell me if this sounds delusional. Every saturday Catholics can go to confession to confess their sins to be forgiven. Usually it's mortal sin that needs to be confessed. Last Saturday I was supposed to confess my addictive mortal sin to the priest but somehow found an excuse not to go. Therefore I still have mortal sin because I never confessed it to the priest (a priest WHEN HE HEARS CONFESSION is really embodied by God when he forgives your sin – its not the priest that forgives sin but really God who says the words of absolution. Anyway, when I missed Saturday's confession I said to my self oh well maybe I'll just go on Monday because there's a priest in the valley who hears them – but the usual time for confession are on Saturdays.

      I attended mass yesterday evening and when it came time for the Eucharist (eating the actual body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine) I asked God if I should go up to receive Him (while I still had mortal sin on my soul) and for Him to give me a sign if it would be ok – since I planned to go to confession on Monday anyway. BTW Catholics are not to receive Christ in an unworthy manner – which means if you have mortal sin you cannot receive because you'll defile Him and bring ruin to your self or your soul. When the sign didn't happen I convinced my self that probably I won't go to confession on Monday and continue to indulge my self with the same addictive mortal sin I've grown accustom to doing.

      The weather man from last week said today and all week it would be dry in Phoenix. In fact, we had record breaking heat this weekend. It is also forcasted to be record breaking heat today and to be dry all week long. When I woke up by the sound of my dog yelping to go out to go to the bathroom, I opened the door and felt a small drop on my shirtless back. I took 4 more steps and felt another drop. I thought it was just the tree over head. All of the sudden it started pouring. I looked up behind me and sure enough there were rain clouds overhead. I could hear the drumbeat of rain hitting the leaves. I knew instantly that God wanted me to go to confession today and not commit more mortal sins the entire week (because I knew I had till this Saturday to confess my sin and I could be dirty and playing with sin all week long if I wanted).

      I walked back inside and told my wife that God wanted me to go to confession today. It rained just for 5 more minutes and stopped. If you think this is delusional, then I suggest you go watch any news channel about Phoenix, Arizona (Sept 20, 2010) and see for your self. Look at all the newspapers written prior to today and you will see rain was no where in the forcast. I'm sure some of you will still dismiss it because of your hardness of hearts. Nothing, not even a man who raised Himself up from the dead will convince you that there is a God who really does care for you. You prefer to walk with the blind and put your faith in unproven science fiction scientists with their unproven, biased theories. As for me and my family, we know what these signs mean – because I have come to learn and know what God means by them because they are very personal to me. If you want to hear God all you have to do is open up your eyes and ears of faith and you'll see Godly things manifest before your very eyes!

      So you're probably wondering what rain means when God uses it for me? To me it means cleansing. After being dirty of sin, God shows rain as a symbol for cleansing. Baptism with flowing water is cleansing. When I woke up at the beginning of the day and stepped out the door, God said using nature "I don't want you to fall into more mortal sin this week thinking you have till Saturday to make up for it. I want you to clean your self up this second, to repent and go to confession later tonight when you get off work."

      God Bless!

      September 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Tony

      Proof that it's not a delusion but a manifestation from God:
      http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid40918749001?bclid=35383485001&bctid=596127171001

      Now all you have to do is look for a newspaper written in the past and you'll see it's supposed to be record breaking heat for today and the past weekend.

      September 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  4. Tony

    As for signs... lets just say I have a certain inclination towards a particular addictive sin and every time I am about to fall or will fall God shows me an sign from the external world to tell me to stop. A lot of the times the signs develop as a form of rain or thunderstorm. The weird thing is I live in the desert. That's why I know it's not coincidence. For instance, the day could be totally clear and all of the sudden clouds will begin to form – when no storm or rain was ever forcasted that day! Then when I fall, without even knowing it got dark it will start to rain at the exact moment I fell. Sometimes my wife will call me because she notices it happening or sometimes she feels it in her heart what is happening to me and IM's me.

    In fact I often check the weather to see when it will rain. It just happens too many times to be dismissed as coincidence. Because it always happens and exact moments. That's why I know and have become convinced of God. Rain has a particular meaning for me and God uses it to help me with my addiction. The addiction is a mortal sin and I fight it daily. There are other signs too but I'm not willing to share them. Only I know what they mean because they are personal to me and God. That's why I said, to ask for a sign which is personal that only God would know and you might be surprised.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      OK, I admit it – you had me going!! I rely did believe that you're a true, but stupid, believer, but I now I see that you're really just stringing us along, making fools out of atheist and believer alike. Or your just working on a comedy routine? Or maybe, just maybe, you need to see a doctor!

      September 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Tony

      I was thinking of you this morning. I was driving my son to work and when I got there, I realized that every signal light was green – we didn't have to stop once – this has never, not ever, happened to me before!! So I got to thinking this must be a sign from god – that I was being given a message. And then I remembered that we had passed a church and thought maybe I was supposed to go to church. But I was confused because the church was in the middle of route, and the sign wouldn't have been complete when we passed the church, so maybe that wasn't the church I was supposed to go to. But then my GPS suggested a route back home that didn't take me past any churches, so I think the final message was don't go to church...

      PS: The development of thunderstorms, even in dry or cold geographies, is well known and covered in public school science classes – absolutely nothing mystic about it. And the difficulty of precisely forecasting weather is also well understood – again, nothing mystic. Don't you think an omniscient god wanting to deliver an important message would use a clear communication method?

      September 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • peace2all

      @HotAirAce

      LOL.... ! Take it easy on the guy.... 🙂

      Peace....

      September 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  5. Tony

    I'll respond later to the signs when i have time...

    The scientific method actually came from a Catholic Friar named Francis Bacon. It's a Catholic invention and science owes much of its debt to the Church. It was during the Middle Age – for you non-history buffs. All you Atheists who wish to rewrite history and say the Church is Anti-Science... nothing can be further from the truth!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Tony

      I am tempted to refute your latest with 1 word – bu-lllsomething (looks the mods don't like asterisks...), but instead I'll just use Galileo...

      Oh, and what about the priests bu-gg-ering little children – need some time to come up with an answer to those simple questions?

      September 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  6. SomeTruth

    Tony:

    Superst_ition is defined as , "belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circ_umstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like."

    September 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Tony

    All I can say is I've seen so many personal miraculous, powerful supernatural things happen in my life and in the environment that simply cannot be explained as random sub-atomic occurrences. Religion would call them signs. Personal and powerful signs is one proof there is an intelligent, personal God who really does care for you. Why not give it a try? If you're an atheist, ask for a small sign that only you would know. You might be amazed what you see or hear. Just have faith!

    September 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • Tony

      And BTW signs are things which will benefit your soul. SOme of you are probably wishing God would give you the Powerball numbers and then you'll believe. Problem is winning the Powerball probably wouldn't be good on some of your souls if you catch my drift 😀 . Some of you might use it to commit adultery, feed addictions and so forth.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Tony

      We all are dying...well, not dying....but extremely interested to know...... Please, do tell of these supposed 'powerful supernatural things' that have happened in your life.

      'Signs' you say....?

      Please I have to know....... do tell.....

      Peace....

      September 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Kate

      @peace2all
      Please, do tell of these supposed 'powerful supernatural things' that have happened in your life.

      I think puberty is still on his "To do" list.

      Just sayin'

      September 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Kate

      Oh no you didn't...... again.... 🙂 I am just going to start cutting and pasting like reality the aforementioned response.

      Peace......

      September 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  8. mishmash

    although everyone has the right to express their own opinion it is sad indeed than there are so many radical and negative criticisms of the Pope and others making comments flying around and emmanating from Great Britain. nobody is perfect and one should look at onself before passing judgement on others and unless one is very self assured and certain of one's own position it may be surprising for some to learn that one often sees one's own shortcomings in others – labelled by Freud as a defence mechanism which he labelled 'projection'.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Kate

      @mishmash

      I think you'd honestly be hard pressed to find anyone else who oversaw a huge church machinery and implemented policies and practices that had victims of molestation afraid to speak out in fear for their souls, protected priests and shuffled them to keep them from the eyes of the authorities, sat on reports and requests from his own bishops begging him to deal with pedophile priests they had in their midst, calls the whole thing "petty gossip", blames the victims and society for the actions he facilitated, and denies final rest and sacraments for those who, in shame they should not have been forced to bear, took their own lives enough to consider it projection.

      Of course, you may know of others, but I bet you the people with those shortcomings ain't using CNN's belief blogs.

      Just notin'

      September 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Tony

      Kate, why don't you do a fact check for once in your life. How old are these allegations? Did they occur 20+ years ago? I'm sorry but even in US courts there's such thing as a statute of Limitations. Do some homework and read up about law. You're simply misinformed and it's painfully obvious you have a bias against the Church.

      And by the way, what about Separation of Church and State? These are Church Issues and the Pope has that authority just like how the government has authority to enforce it's civil laws. He was merely practicing his authority.

      And by the way, since you're probably an Atheist, why do you care so much? Were just a collection of molecules anyway? Who cares if people are killed or molested right? Why are you enforcing justice? Justice is just a collection of sub atomic particles which make up an idea right?

      September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Tony

      I thought I would let you in on a little secret....

      Ya' see @KATE .....she is 'not' an atheist, she is really a 'closet catholic'..... just giving an insider's view of things.

      But, your thoughts on how an atheist would think about reality and morality..... Wow...that was powerful dude....

      And your argument about separation of Church and State... trying to validate the Pope's lake of 'action' on 'serious crimes against humanity'..... well, I didn't quite agree with that one, and my guess.....other's won't be with ya' on that one either...

      But, good luck with that catholic world view...obviously it is working for you...

      Peace.....

      September 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Tony

      YEah i dont quite agree with it iether.. i was just mocking the sep of church and state mongers....

      September 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Tony

      Do I understand you correctly? A priest bu-gg-ering a child is purely a church issue? What goes on within a so-called "House of God" stays there? That defence hasn't worked for years...

      All your bluster about science is merely an attempt to deflect us and yourself from the real truth. You are being led by an evil man, surrounded by evil men.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  9. Bart

    I think that he is stong because he is humble, so that he is not pushing his own ideas nor trying to use the "power" of being the head of a 1 billion strong organization. His program is to drive the church in continuity to his predecessors and reminding the world that without God everything -personal lives and social life- goes sooner rather than later through the sinkhole.

    September 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Kate

      @Bart

      Yep, having the UK pay the tab for security, driving around in a custom-made Mercedes with a great big canopy so everyone can see him and he can bask in the adulation of the teeming millions of victims available to him, all sighs of humility for the guy in the fancy frocks living in a secluded city where his word is law.

      With humility like that, who needs megalomaniacs?

      Just sayin'

      September 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  10. Tony

    Oh and do you mean to say the whole universe came from 1 single molecule? That's ridiculous science fiction. That's like saying I can build a computer with one single nut. How do you explain that? Out of one source material came all the complex molecules, atoms, dna strands etc. That's super-fantasy. Religion best answers that question. God who exists outside of time and space created it. Simple. To the Point. And Logical. Not science fiction like modern atheism.

    September 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Kate

      @Tony

      Why are you thinking on such a macro level? Everyone knows that the lowest building blocks are on the quantum level, which is smaller than sub-atomic. You can't even explain what quantum particles go into a molecule, so how can you make any value judgement on its ability?

      In fact, given fission, your assertion of one molecule being the beginning makes no scientific or logical sense.

      Maybe you should ask your teacher to go into these things a little better before you advance a grade – or find a better teacher.

      Just thinkin'

      September 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tony

      You're obviously missing the point. Atom, quantum or whatever you or some scientist in the future call the smallest thing is... you simply can't have a chicken before an egg. In layman's terms you're saying the chicken was already developed and always existed. That's totally illogical and and you have no proof besides throwing out scientific words and unproven theories.

      Why don't you go back to your roots and use true scientific methods rather than personal bias. We all know scientists are biased and bias has no room in real science.

      It's like this: Where did quantum come from? How did it come into existence? How do u know it always existed? What caused it to perform in a certain way? What was the energy that made it move? Where did that energy come from? Etc etc. You're coping out by saying it always existed and you can't even prove that it always existed besides saying learn more about it and to go back to school.

      If quantum is so simple – since it's the very beginning, then why can't you explain how it started or came to existence?

      September 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • Kate

      @Tony

      Umm, because there is no such thing as "a quantum". It's a measurement. Like "inch". Your questions have no more meaning than "How did an inch start, how did it come into existence?".

      So yeah, I think you really need to go back to school.

      WAY back.

      Just sayin'

      September 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Tony

    Atheists are the dumbest people in the world. They believe that the whole universe with all it's natural laws, atomic complexities and evolutionary traits for survival all came about from random chance. It boggles my mind how they can believe in such a ridiculous fairy tale fantasy. The irony is they think religion is a fairy tale for dimwitted people.

    If they only knew that it's more dimwitted to believe in the evolution of the species via "darwin evolution" than to believe in intelligent design where a God is powerful enough to create something out of nothing with mere words. It's stupid to believe that with one single molecule/atom the whole universe was created. That's about as stupid as saying this paragraph suddenly appeared out of nowhere – with no sign of intelligence behind it.

    Scientists to this day can't make something out of nothing – they have to use existing materials – let alone make something happen with a spoken word like GOD.

    Are Atheists stupid? Yes they are. They're illogical and have no common sense and are heavily biased.

    September 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • Kate

      @Tony

      For complexity, you might want to look into the topic of A-Life, which is rather good at detailing how random chance isn't quite so random and doesn't take quite a chance.

      Something out of nothing is covered quite nicely by supernova nucleosynthesis.

      Which still goes back to the very moment of the existence of nothing, but science does provide explanations for the things you're objecting to.

      Now if only science (or religion for that matter) could adequately explain Ratzinger's callous disregard for human life and dignity and why people who accuse others of being heavily biased usually come across as being just as heavily biased as those they accuse of it.

      Just sayin'

      September 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • Tony

      Who/what caused the first action? A-life is science fiction. Using the modern scientific method – Prove it! Replicate it! You can't therefore it's not sound science. It's just a fairy tale science fiction at it's best.

      September 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Tony

      If all it took was random chance to create the universe – then I'm sure with your brilliant mind you can make something out of nothing – unless youre copping out and professing matter always existed. If that's the case prove it!

      September 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Kate

      @Tony

      A-life has been replicated. Just because the data sets are different for every iteration of a simulation, each set supports the same conclusions at to methodology of evolutionary principles. The mechanics of creating the organics involved in their initial state have also been replicated and are proven.

      It is, however, a false argument to require reproduction of the exact beginning of life on earth, since that would require a time machine – and it's a bad argument used by those who have no leg to stand on except to retreat into absurdium – so let's not go there, hmmm?

      What gets to me is the ones so steeped in dogma that they think the 6 days genesis story is absolutely literal, like Christine O'Donnell does – they have so much a vested interest in the literal version that they refuse to acknowledge it parallels the scientific version.

      I think the genesis story is actually a pretty good description of the creation of the universe, just time compressed and taking epochs as days, but the near-psychotic aversion to science exhibited by many fundamentalists refuses to think of it in any terms that can be described as logical.

      So it's kind of funny you want to accuse me of bad logic 🙂

      Just laffin'

      September 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Magic Man

      Your ignorant rants certainly show no sign of intelligence behind them, but I won't hold out hope that they will ever evolve beyond the ridiculous Creationist talking points you spew randomly. Go back to your cave, troll.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  12. Kate

    @Frogist

    Considering he wears dresses, I think what sort of bottom would be obvious ...

    Just grinnin'

    September 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  13. Mat

    The Pope and the Vatican should allow the priests to get married..
    Because God clearly said in Genesis 2:18 "It not good that man should be alone"
    So God created women for man, So the Vatican should allow the priests to get married..
    People had lost interest in Catolic because of this..

    September 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Mat,
      Priests are married to the Church. We parishioners are as children to them and this is why we call them ‘Father’…put very simply.

      September 17, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  14. Rich

    All you Brits seem to forget all your own crimes against humanity – France in the hundred years war, against india, Northern Ireland and now the golf of America with your big oil spill. I am amazed Brits havn't destroyed the world. Has anything good come out of England besides the Rolling Stones? I think not and may God forgive you for burning Joan of Arc which you used church authority to do, because I never will!

    September 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Frogist

    "Pope Benedict XVI, which is that whatever one might think of his views, he is, at bottom, a nice guy."
    Anybody else read that and think, "the Pope is a bottom?!" Maybe a power bottom... Was it just me? No? OK just me then...

    September 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      No..... I didn't go there until you gave me that 'brain stain'...Arrrrghhhhh Did you have to..? I am planning an intervention on Kate already..... 🙂 Now you...?

      Peace....

      September 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Reality

    On the more important issues regarding B16:

    For new members only-

    B16 like many of us suffers from the Three B Syndrome i.e. he was Bred, Born and Brainwashed in his religion. For this reason, he is unable to think past the shackles put upon him by the likes of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

    The wishful thinking done by these five scribes approximately 2000 years ago continued the embellishment and fiction tradition of the Jewish scribes. The locals paid for a good story of myth and imminent second coming. There was no money in the truth but now we know the truth and it boils down to two simple statements, Do No Harm and Love Thy Neighbor as yourself.

    And of course Mr. Allen recogizes the fact there is more money in writing books filled with embellishments and myths i.e.the reason for the topic column.

    September 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Reality: Everytime you write out B16, I wanna yell BINGO!

      September 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Critter

      BINGO!

      September 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Kate

      @Frogist

      Funny, I was thinking more like Battleship ... he misses so often 🙂

      Just splashin'

      September 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Do you have that memorized by now or still copy and paste?

      September 17, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
    • Reality

      CatholicMom,

      Truth "thu-mping" now has replaced bible "thu-mping. Welcome to the 21st century!!!

      September 18, 2010 at 8:04 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Reality,

      Why does one want to go from thu-mping the Bible to thu-mping the Truth? If you knock one, you knock the other.....
      So living in unTruth is your idea of a good way to live out your life? How is that working for you?

      Let's see, an apple is no longer an apple, likewise an orange....a monkey is no longer a monkey but is a man? You are not a man but now a monkey?

      No, let's stick to Truth and get away from all the thu-mping of it......

      September 18, 2010 at 11:59 am |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      And here I thought 'I' was the only one that *does* actually yell out 'BINGO' when Reality posts the B16...... 🙂

      Peace.....

      September 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Reality

      CatholicMom,

      Not even a nice try on your part. It is "th-umping" the Truth as in 2 + 2 = 4 and there was no resurrection of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, there was no ascension and all persons crucified in first century CE Palestine are still "amouldering" in the hot dust of Israel and/or Gaza. As the Mormons were conned by Joe Smith, we were conned by the likes of P, M, M, L and J.

      September 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Reality,
      Sorry, but when you thu-mp the Truth...you are knocking all Truth.

      September 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • Reality

      CatholicMom,

      Apparently, a definition is needed:

      Bible thu-mper (ing) is a pejorative term used to describe Christians in general, especially someone perceived as aggressively pushing their Christian beliefs upon those who do not share them. Its target domain is broad and can often extend to anyone engaged in a public show of religion, fundamentalist or not. It is commonly heard in most Western countries; the particular term Bible basher, along with Jesus freak is used in Australian slang to pertain to a person or group who knock on doors to convert non-Christians. It is also often used to refer to social conservatives in the Bible belt of the Southern United States. The term alludes to a preacher thum-ping his hand hard down on the Bible to emphasize a point during a sermon.

      September 19, 2010 at 1:01 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Thank you, Reality, for your meaning of the word thu-mping as you use it; I prefer thinking of thu-mping as ‘knocking’. I guess if someone wants to throw out the Bible, it would be real easy to throw out the dictionary, too. Evidently there is another meaning since it gets moderated…..

      September 19, 2010 at 9:54 am |
    • Reality

      CatholicMom,

      Actually, the OT/Torah part of the bible has been thrown out and rewritten by the rabbis of the Conservative wing of Judaism. It is sometimes referred to as the New Torah for Modern Minds:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

      The NT has been rewritten by Thomas Jefferson and by the Jesus Seminarians to reflect the modern views of the life of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      September 19, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  17. mishmash

    I think there are a lot of misconceptions in Britain about the Pope because people know little about him and show little interest or are too wrapped up in their own affairs. In Europe he has a lot of TV news coverage for his visits and for every Mass he takes to celebrate a significant event which are shown in full. Although not a Catholic and no intention of becoming one and not particularly religious either, I have been totally spellbound by these transmissions ever since his election and also had some interest in John Paul II especially at the end of his life. I do not agree with all the Catholic doctrines but it doesn't mean I cannot listen to and respect the Pope for what he represents, who he is as a human being and his personality, his intellect and the devoted spiritual leadership he provides. I just find it sad that so many people criticise him so vehmently and often harshly and unfairly which seems to spread like a contagion but how many people have really taken the time to listen to him and understand his role and what he does for the Papacy. Like those who criticise, he is by no means perfect but he is at least open and broadminded enough to listen deeply and learn from what has gone wrong and will do his best to put these wrongs right with the greatest understanding and compassion. It is a great honour that this octogenarian has given us his time and energy and accepted the invitation to come and visit our country and not only his own flock but the entire nation and should be treated with the greatest respect for doing so. I hope the British will uphold our good reputation so that he leaves with a favourable impression of his visit and of our Nation. It is very sad if a millitant few disgrace us and our Sovreign, our Government and our Church leaders.
    Mr Allen's book has been on my reading list ever since it was published.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:49 am |
    • Henry G.

      mishmash, it is clear you do not "get it", or perhaps you are being deliberately obtuse. If so, you are a disgrace to Britain.

      The Pope deserves, not the greatest respect, but the greatest condemnation and scorn, regardless of your myopic views about Britain's "good reputation" and your "Church leaders".

      If you would care to act more honourably, sir or madam, then I suggest you cease immediately any efforts on your part to protect known criminals and other loathsome elements in the religious sector.
      I strongly suggest you re-evaluate your position concerning the Pope and any such criminals hiding behind the so-called authority of religion, for you protect and defend them at your peril.

      September 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • ratkartz

      Anyone who spells "church" with an initial capital is One of Them.

      September 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Pete

      I am British and I hope that Britons uphold our long held values for sticking up for the underdogs in the face of all odds. In this case we need to stand up against this Church and it's disgraceful behavious towards children, If a parole boatd releases an offender to commit crime agin, they are pilloried, if this Church move a priets and allow him to offend over and over again, Cathilics support them. There is no Chritian or moral foundation to these argumenst and those who stand up for the Church in the face of this are slaves to dogma rather than Christian beliefs. By the way "a church" would be a noun, "The Church" would be a proper noun and therefore a capital should be used,

      September 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Looking at CNN with something akin to loathing

    Did you guys actually need a Catholic apologist on-staff? And you pay him for this? And he gives you articles like this?

    Not like I go around telling people how to do their jobs, but...geeez!

    September 17, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Funny, I was wondering if they had Muslim apologist on staff.

      Come on dude or lady... what do you want, all negative articles about Christians or Catholics. Amazing, sounds again like one of my uncles, every article about a white man from Tom cruise to Harry Reid, if it isn't about the evils of the "white man" than he feels that the person is either a Uncle Tom or a apologist.

      September 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Kate

    So he's a good politician, being able to kiss babies while stealing their lollipops. That just means he's a good social chameleon. What he does in public is irrelevant, it's what the steel fist does inside the velvet glove that earns him contempt and hopes he repents before he's d4mned for what he has allowed.

    Jim Jones was charismatic too.

    Just sayin'

    September 17, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Patrick

      How ignorant. If only you had the slightest clue as to what the heck you are talking about...

      September 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Kate

      @Patrick

      I know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, then you've been avoiding information pretty hard, I fear – or just been suckered into having your lollipop stolen by the same church.

      Just sayin'

      September 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  20. Charles Manson was really nice too

    So we get an article by a squealing schoolgirl of a Pope-fan?

    "Oh, the Pope is soooo nice!" "And cute!" "I just ADORE his eyes!"
    "And he read my book! [squeal!]" "Do you think he likes me?" "What should I wear the next time I see him?" "The crotchless Cardinal outfit I wore last Halloween?" "Oh, he'll LOVE that." "And I softened his image today with an article on CNN!"
    [squeal!] "Because he is SOOO nice!"

    September 17, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • Bill N

      It never fails to amaze me on how many ignorant people like Kate are out there spewing venom against the Pope, not really having a clue about what they are talking about......

      September 17, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • ratkartz

      A mere criminal, leader of a criminal organisation, acting like the consummate politician, waving shiny objects at the easily fooled. Many gullible and weak people are taken in by hocus-pocus and glad-handing. But we are not amused.

      September 17, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Frogist

      Whoa! Kate, what did you do now? Am I gonna have to get David Johnson over here to keep you in line? 😉

      September 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Kate

      @Frogist

      I didn't do anything yet, I think Bill N was just having a knee jerk moment while waiting for the inevitable pointing out that Ratzinger is indirectly responsible for the culture of secrecy and protection of pedophile priests inside the Catholic Church.

      It's probably easier to go into full denial mode before the facts are presented (again) that make denial totally incomprehensible 😛

      Just predictin'

      September 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • laughing

      That picture is just right. hahahahaha!
      He looks like he's getting it right in the poop shute. LOL

      September 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • Kate

      @laughing

      That or he just saw a kid walk past?

      Just sayin'

      September 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.