Vatican scandals lift lid on secret power struggle
May 29th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Vatican scandals lift lid on secret power struggle

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Bad luck comes in threes, even for the pope.

The past week has seen his butler arrested, accused of leaking secret papers from the papal apartment; the head of his bank sacked for incompetence; and a demonstration on his front doorstep by protesters demanding that he reveal what he knows about Italy's most famous missing-person case.

It's bad PR for the Vatican, but it may be more than that, experts say. It could affect who becomes the next pope.

The arrest of the pope's trusted butler, Paolo Gabriele, came just a day before the board of the Vatican Bank fired its director, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.

Two days after that, hundreds of people chanted "Truth, truth!" in St. Peter's Square, holding pictures of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee who disappeared at the age of 15 and has not been seen in the past 29 years.

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No less a figure than the Vatican's chief exorcist said he suspected the girl had been abducted for sexual reasons, adding: "The investigation should be carried out inside the Vatican and not outside."

The timing of the demonstration was probably a coincidence, since conspiracy theories about Orlandi's disappearance have been swirling for decades and police investigations have gone nowhere, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican."

But the butler and bank scandals are significant, and reveal a secret battle going on behind closed doors, he said.

Nuns at odds with Vatican meeting this week

The effect of each event is the same: to weaken the authority of Pope Benedict XVI's second in command.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, is involved in a power struggle with his predecessor, experts say.

"The reason for this fight is that the secretary of state will have a strong influence over the next conclave which will choose the next pope," said Giacomo Galeazzi, a journalist at the Italian daily La Stampa.

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The late John Paul II's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, is trying to sideline Bertone and put one of his own proteges in place before Benedict dies, Galeazzi said.

"The leaks will end when Bertone is out as secretary of state," he predicted.

He said he expects that Bertone, who will be 78 in December, would be replaced at the end of the year, but not by the cardinal Sodano wants.

Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, isn't the only one who doesn't like Bertone, Reese said.

Bertone "did what normally happens. He brought in his team, the people he likes, the people he trusts, and he put them in key positions in the Vatican," he said.

"There are people who had hitched their star to the previous secretary of state who thought by now they would become an archbishop or a cardinal, and they didn't," Reese said. "These people are unhappy and don't like Bertone."

Part of the reason for the butler and bank scandals is that the Vatican hasn't been run well in decades, Reese said.

"Clerics don't go to Harvard Business School. Bertone is a theologian. He doesn't have an MBA," he said.

And Benedict is no better, he said.

"He is a German professor. He's a person who is into ideas, not a manager, and yet he is running a 1.2-billion member organization," Reese said.

There's a faction within the Vatican that wants the next pope to be "a better manger who can get the shop in order," Reese said.

"A lot of people think that would be an Italian, of course," after two popes from outside of Italy, John Paul II from Poland and Benedict from Germany, he said.

But the undermining of Bertone may work against that faction, he said.

"Bertone is from the Vatican and is Italian," Reese pointed out. "People may say we need somebody from outside who can come in and knock heads together and make it work."

Reese isn't taking a position on where the next pope should be from, but he has strong views on what Benedict's successor should do: "The place really needs to be restructured and reorganized. It still operates in many ways like a 19th century European court."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope John Paul II • Scandal • Vatican

soundoff (1,326 Responses)
  1. IronRider

    The Catholic Church is as phony to God as the American Government is to Freedom.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  2. Disgusted

    Its time for a good house cleaning at the Vatican and throughout the Catholic Church leadhership! The "sheep" (the membership) should demand it and not give in to the church's demands and nonsense. I am a catholic who can no longer follow the teachings of the faith, as I truly believe the leadership is corrupt and believes it is above the law. Enough said! Don't get me started on the way the leadership disrespects the sisters and nuns!

    May 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • dogface

      To clean the Vatican, the world must seize the Vatican and hand it over to Italy. That way Italy can investigate those in the Vatican for abuse and exonerate the innocent and put the guilty into Turkish prisons.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  3. David

    I thought I'd give CNN one more look-in before I dumped CNN into the abyss.
    You've no problem with me dumping CNN into the abyss have you?
    Why on Earth should I drag deadwood through Armageddon?
    CNN must prove that it's not deadwood in order to survive.
    Is CNN prepared to do this?

    May 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • sam

      ...crazyface said what again?

      May 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Frank

      If you have problems with CNN reporting on your corrupt pedophile infested cult and their legions of child rapists then move on along for they aren't serving you the kool-aide your accustomed to.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      Please leave, and spare the rest of us from having to read
      your whinning drivel.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  4. Jubril

    You don't need any human being to get to God, You have a direct line to him, he sends you the oxygen you breath. He the Almighty has no Father/Mother/Son/Daughter. he only has creations like you and me and the mountains and planets. He begets none nor is he begotten. Learn about Islam the true religion of (Moses and Abraham) where the imams don't assault young children

    May 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Tridentine

      Or fly airliners into buldings in the name of Allay.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Allah

      Knock it off. Stop recruiting.If I were to tell you there are many gods and the ancient Greeks were closer to a true religion would you believe me? no? ...do you not believe me for the same reasons I don't believe in your one god.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • madonfan

      Jubril. Most Muslims I have met are really nice people. Sooooo not here to insult you. However, you have to look at discrepancies even in your own faith. Islam teaches from the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ along with the Torah. This is truth. Jehovah's, Mormons, Muslims, all have one thing in common. They all acknowledge Christ but deny His power and who He truly is. Islam also does not include a creation/creator relationship. It gives rules like every other faith but does not emphasize a relationship with a creator. It really is right in front of you if you just look hard enough. Jehovah's, Mormons, and Muslims all use the Christian bible, but dissect it to meet their agenda. The Holy Bible however, stands alone as God's word without any add-ons, or rules that God did not impose. Non-denominational Bible teaching. That is all that can truly be trusted. Look at the Dead Sea Scrolls. Look at all the evidence in Israel of the Bible's validity. It can't be denied. But, God said it would be denied by those who are blinded by the prince of this world which is Satan.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Islam is just a moon-god cult.

      The Mulsim god Allah is as easily refutable as is the Judeo-Christian god, Yahweh.

      Muslims as'sert that Allah is a later evolution, and indeed the same divine being, (in pre Islamic times), as the god of the other guys, (the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles...the Jewish people, and the Christians). Thus the ONLY issue is the obvious one of continuity. If Allah really IS Yahweh, then "he" is just, if not more ridiculous, than the Yahweh god, (the "God of the Armies", better known to Christians as the "Lord of Hosts").

      Yahweh is easily refuted, historically. So the question is, "is Allah a DIFFERENT deity, or a continuity?". While the claim in Islam is that the deity IS a continuity, in fact it isn't. Allah, upon historical examination, proves to be a pre-Islamic deity. The continuity claim is essential if the claim to a "continuous flow" of revelation is to remain intact. Allah, historically, has been proven to be a PRE-ISLAMIC moon-god. In fact Mecca was originally built as a shrine to the moon god. The religious claims are shredded by the archaeology, just as happens with the Yahweh claims. Allah, just as Yahweh, had a wife. He was married to the sun goddess, and the stars were the daughters. Just as Yahweh, Allah was not the only god in the house. The popularity of the moon god, began to wane, as astronomers began to predict the moon's cycle, so Arabs began to say that the moon-god was the greatest of the gods. Besides the moon god, they also worshiped 359 other gods at the Kabah in Mecca.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The temple of the moon-god remained active as a worship site well into the Christian era, and the moon-god was worshiped in both North Arabia, and South Arabia in Muhammad's day, and was still the dominant cult. The name of the moon-god was "Sin", but it's t'itle was al-ilah, which meant "the deity", (emphasis on "the"), ie meaning this deity was the chief among the gods. The god Il, or Ilah, was a PHASE of the moon god. Allah was a popular name. Muhammad's father and uncle had "Allah", as part of their names. Allah is NEVER defined in the Qur'an. Why ? Because Muhammad was raised in the cult of the moon-god, and as'sumed that everyone already knew who he was. Muhammad just went the extra step, (as the later Jews did), and said he was one of many, then was first of many, then the only.

      The claim that Allah IS Yahweh is nonsense. Islam is a moon-god cult, AND even if Allah were Yahweh, since Yahweh is nonsense, so is Allah.


      Islam is a moon-god cult.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • uhh..

      madonfan, you state " The Holy Bible however, stands alone as God's word without any add-ons, or rules that God did not impose. ", how do you know this to be true? The bible has been passed down by word of mouth for generations until it was finally written and then it was cropped, edited, rewritten. It seems foolish to state your book is correct simply because you believe it is correct, when the muslim here believes his is correct. Neither of you have any evidence to stand on!

      Throw away both story books and embrace reality.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  5. Tridentine

    There is so much misconception in the secular media about the Catholic Church.The Pope has a very demanding schedule and it isnt surprising that he has staff people.JP ll was buried in a pine box.They do not have personal wealth or big planes or anything else.Look at the molestation issue this is a societal problem,but you wouldnt know it from the media.Teachers,plumbers,lawyers all have been involved.Spewing the venom on any other group would be considered racist.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • sam

      Soooo...you're catholic, then, I guess?

      May 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • uhh..

      But he has an entire mansion and throne made of gold and is immune to all laws. The poor guy.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      There is so much misconception in the flock about the true nature of the church.
      When the church does something bad, just blame the media for reporting it.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  6. stanton


    May 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • dogface

      It is time for Italy to annex the Vatican so that all those so-called religious officials can be put on trial for all the abuse.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Tridentine

      I hope the Penn State people are also brought to justice.Oh wait that doesnt fit your biased views,about the Church

      May 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • frank


      May 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • dogface

      I would have both the Vatican and certain football officials of Penn State put on trial by an international tribunal so that those guilty of child abuse or covering it up or both could spend the rest of their lives in Turkish prison.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      The Vatican was given Nation/state status by Mussolini.
      Not much has changed has it ?
      The mafia still holds the staff.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  7. madonfan

    The true Church does not have a government, a butler, or a CPA. The Lord's body is His people. What is truly sad is people think Catholicism is the posterchild for Christianity. It really isn't. God established the church, not denominations. The Catholic Church is yet another religion that God is exposing to reveal its falsehood. Same Trinity, however, none of it's rules were ever imposed by Christ. Sacraments is something man imposed, not God. Christ paid the ultimate eternal penalty for our sins. Every time someone sits in a box in punishment pouring their hearts out to a priest, it is an insult to Christ. Wake up people. It is almost to say that Christ's death wasn't enough punishment for sins, and that "penance" is required. REPENTANCE, not penance.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Brad76

      I would give this statement 100 likes if I could.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • ME II

      Too bad He wasn't more clear...

      May 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • madonfan

      Me II. How much clearer do you need? Not being sarcastic I am just confused on what you need clarity on.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Allah

      we'll reinterpret religion until there are no more people. It's a never ending battle of wasted time. I say we go back to Greek gods that fight. At least that was entertaining.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • One one

      God didn't establish the church, people did. But the first step was for people to create god(s).

      May 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Zeus

      Greek gods are awesomesauce.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • ME II


      There are thousands of different "Christian" sects. Apparently God was not clear on what He meant.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      Constantine created "christianity" when he cobbled together the bible.
      The church has been tampering with it ever since.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  8. Ralph

    Wow. This thing has evolved into 27 different threads...time for 28...

    Just how does Bucky get his name to post upside down? 🙂 Trick!

    May 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • LinCA


      May 29, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      @Lin ... blabbermouth 🙂

      May 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      I was just going to ask the same thing Ralph.
      Thanks Lin.
      Hey becky (Sound of a wet raspberry) chuckle.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Lisa


    The catholic church did not originate with Jesus Christ. Jesus would never have back Adolf Hitler as the catholic church did.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • ME II

      Are you sure?

      May 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • gram49

      Are you sure the Catholic Church backed Hitler? Have you ever studied history – not the made up stuff but the real thing? Do you know how many Catholics were sent to prisons and gassed by the Nazi's? Have you ever read the Crimson and the Black?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      While the Catholic Church might not have "backed Hitler", it did little or nothing to oppose him.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      There are authentic photos of Bishops and cardinals meeting with top level Nazi available on the internet.
      There are also true stories (some vids on youtube) about how so many top level Nazi's escaped after the war to other countries.
      They escaped with help from the catholic church, even supplied with fake passports, money
      and places to stay.
      Most ended up in South America.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  10. FifthApe

    When with this sick collection of sinister virgins and their bronze aged beliefs collapse? It can't be soon enough.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  11. St. John

    I do not nk that there is anything left to say. AMEN

    May 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  12. Spread Sheet

    "... the Vatican hasn't been run well in decades... " Donald Trump might be interested in the job.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Ecclesiastes 7:17

    The RCC has been around for centuries and centuries....chances are..it will be around long after all of us are mouldering in the ground. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to all the haters out there.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Thank you for admitting we will all just be moldering.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • God.

      Evil, evil, evil.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Hi ... typing god !

      May 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Is it hard to type with your "noodly appendages" ?

      May 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Drew Miller

      My god is better than your god!

      May 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      St Malachy has been dead on about all the previous popes.
      There will be one more pope before the destruction of the Catholic church.
      Seems the fight over who that will be, has already started.
      Maybe there is something to this "prophecy" stuff after all.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  14. Puzzled in Peoria

    The Catholic Church's governing structure, based on the emperor/senate/procurator/centurion/legionnaire structure of the Roman Empire, is woefully antiquated, besides being unbiblical.

    So much money and effort is spent supporting this bureaucracy that the true teachings of Christ have suffered immeasurably over the centuries.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      Please tell us what are the true teachings of Christ and where you get your information. Thanks.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Norman

      primenumber-it isnt protecting molesters of children and thos who cover it up-Bernard Law, who was elevated and promoted by the wicked Pope-may they all burn in hell (if it exists)

      May 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The point about the civil structure is well taken. A diocese was a tax collection district.

      Norm, not to woory about the "true" whatever. 33,000 sectsof them means it's neither a fact, nor does "he" care, (or "he" would have been more clear).

      May 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • kittyzen

      You were hoping for "teachings" to come out of this? Silly boy.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  15. dcmortimer

    Sorry to disappoint you guys but the church has already won Jesus Christ said so he said I shall be with you until the end of time so really all this anti Catholic stuff is pretty pointless . Peace in Jesus .

    May 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Norman

      the RCC isnt god nor is it jesus-what are you talking about? you think god woudl protect Bernard Law like teh pope did after he protected all those demonic molesters of kids? imbecile

      May 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bob

      dcmortimer, if your long-dead moldy guy is "with us all the time", and he's a good guy and the son of a "loving god", then why doesn't he lift a finger to stop the suffering of the many thousands of innocent kids in Africa who are diseased and/or starving, just to take one example.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      mortimer'ss point, I believe is that regardless of what happens inside or outside the Church that the Saving Blood of Jesus redeems all mankind from its greed, lust and elf seeking. Thank God for the Church which has steadfastly carried the Gospel throughout the centuries. May God forgive Her where she failed.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Billy Boy...how come St. Mark says nothing about "saving blood", and none of the others do either, until AFTER Paul, invented Paulianity, (the religion you really practice). He stole "salvation" from the Greek Mystery cults.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • MD

      @Bill Deacon – "elf" seeking?

      May 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • ME II

      Yes, please save us from "elf seeking" as we certainly don't need more elfs.
      (Yes, I know it was a typo. It just read funny, to me.)

      May 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • uhh..

      So Jesus is with them even as they are molesting young children? Well then that puts a whole new spin on Jesus telling all the children to 'come unto him'.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  16. Burbank

    I wish this evil old man would die and this even more evil religion crumble to dust! – from an ex-Catholic.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Too bad you couldn't remain a Catholic and use all your goodness for our benefit

      May 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Norman

      Bill-no just person woudl be a catholic after the thousands of lives ruined by pedophilic priests

      May 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  17. PaulC

    I have a huge issue with these self appointed holy men. I think they should get an honest job digging ditches or washing cars and spare us their sanctimonious posturing. Their primary goals are power and money.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yeah they should stop like running hospitals and feeding the poor and defending human rights and all that useless stuff and just dig some ditches

      May 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Leslie

      It's all a big hoax that millions on millions have fallen for. People really don't need this crutch called religion.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Norman

      Bill-they shoudl stop molesting kids and fighting gays who just want equality-they are giving up adoptions of kids because they dont want to use their own money and they hate gays-its pretty sick

      May 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Billy boy, ..."good people do good things' ... the assumption that it would stop, if the current structure stopped, is unproven....AND it's the WOMEN who run the hospitals, (in general). Ironic...see the nun thread.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon
      Seems to me, although I could be wrong, that Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services are already independent and run like other 501(c)s. According to Wikipedia, even most of their funding doesn't come from RCC or Catholics in general,

      "Catholic Charities received a total of nearly $2.9 billion from the US government in 2010. In comparison, its annual revenue was $4.67 billion. Only about $140 million came from donations from diocesan churches, the remainder coming from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees, and community donations"

      May 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  18. paganguy

    Not every German drafted into the army was a Nazi. At the battle of Stalingrad 800,000 of them died.
    Many Americans were drafted into the Vietnam War opposed it too.
    The people in power are ruthless.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  19. 1221

    Isn't there a prophecy within the Catholic Church the this is the last Pope before judgement? I think even Nostradamus had some ramblings about this. I know, it's not science so it must be bunk. Funny how a lot of what you see today was written about centuries earlier though. I read about the downfall of the church in the 90's and what do you know, it looks pretty bleak for the church now.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      ISn't it amazing that the prophecies som many claim are bunk seem to be coming true before our very eyes? Fascinating really.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Norman

      prophecies? name one!! anyone can make up taht stuff- watch me- "I predict a great war" will happena dn peopel will be divided"-look at any country at any time and htis describes it-some sheep are so gullible!!

      May 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      the function of a prophet is NOT to be a fortune teller .. typical Catholic ignorance of Bible. A "prophet" is a mouthpiece...speaks "truth to power". "Fortune telling" is from the Hollywood School of Theology.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm sure someone like Harold Camping will be right eventually, because the world will end some day, and by shear coincidence I'm sure someone will have picked that day.
      (I'm selling spots on the pick-a-dooms-day pool. Just send US$1 to...)

      May 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • ME II

      Just think of all the prophecies that failed, that we don't hear about.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      Search youtube video St Malachy.
      Its an amazing story.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  20. VelveteenLady

    Despite being raised in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic schools for 12 years, I am no fan of the current church. However, organized religion is run as a business. So, it rankles me when folks forget that and decide to post about God, Nazzis, Assad, and the like. Let's keep on topic and that is the business of the Catholic Church. Understanding that no large business reveals every secret, be it embarrassing or one related to business practices. There is no doubt that the Vatican empire hides too much information from its members. There is no doubt that secrecy breeds contempt, power mongering, and crime. There is also no doubt that the Catholic Church has deeper and more critical issues than to spy on, babysit, threaten, and demean the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80% of the women religious of the Church, who have been the behind-the-scenes unsung heroes of social justice in the Church.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Gimmeabreak

      None of this should be news to anyone. The Vatican has been in bed with organized crime for so many years that it is treated like a given. The Roman Catholic church has been inherently corrupt since the Italian Renaissance.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The Catholic Church has been corrupt since the Apostles accepted St. Paul's bribe.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
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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.