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Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'
The fragment is written in Coptic, a language used by some early Christians.
September 28th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) - The Vatican on Friday appeared to push back on a recently publicized piece of papyrus that appears to show an early Christian referring to Jesus' wife, with its newspaper calling the fragment “a fake.”

“Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit,” the Vatican’s  newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in a Friday editorial by the newspaper’s editor.

“In other words, in any case it is a fake,” wrote L'Osservatore Romano editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian.

The fragment referring to Jesus wife was written in Coptic, a language used by Egyptian Christians, and says in part, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ..."

The paper is generally thought to reflect the views of Vatican officials.

5 Questions and answers about Jesus’ “wife”

Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King announced the findings of the 1.5- by 3-inch honey-colored fragment earlier this month in Rome at the International Association for Coptic Studies.

King was quick to add this discovered text "does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married," she wrote in a draft of her analysis of the fragment set to appear in the January edition of Harvard Theological Review.

"This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married,” King said in a conference call with reporters earlier in the month. “The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that.

“So we're in the same position we were before it was found,” she continued. “We don't know if he was married or not."

In the accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible, there is no mention of his marital status, while the accounts do mention Jesus' mother, father and siblings.

Opinion: What fascination with Jesus’ “wife” tells us

The four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – tell the story of Jesus' birth and early childhood then skip to his short, three-year ministry before detailing his death and resurrection.

In its Friday editorial, the Vatican newspaper took aim at what it said was a media campaign to spread word of the papyrus despite questions about its authenticity.

“American media outlets had been alerted, a preventive press conference by Karen L. King held to prepare a global scoop which was immediately put into question by the experts,” the paper said.

- CNN"s Hada Messia contributed reporting from Rome

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Vatican

soundoff (2,552 Responses)
  1. You May Be Right, But Then Again....

    The 'ink' medium used can also be tested. There's no doubt some specific detail to it which, if fake, differentiates it from that used centuries ago. There are all kinds of ways to debunk claims. The question is, is the Vatican going to pursue those, or have they already and are choosing not to mention them for now?

    September 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Rob

    So surprising! What did we think they were going to say? Nothing new. When confronted by data that does not fit their worldview, just deny it. Typical.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  3. Hehhhheheh

    Jesus was a filthy sleazeball who played "hide the sausage" with his 12 butt buddies.
    Anyone who thinks this foot-fondling idiot was anything special is guilty of idiocy.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Elena

      you must be a jew

      September 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Hehhhheheh

      Must I? Are you gonna make me? You and what army? I'm not some racist "Jew". Go peddle your ass somewhere else, girl.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Elena

      and the at least yo deserve pettiness

      September 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • JimmyG

      You must, you must, you must increase your bust!

      September 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      Well, he was special, even if he didn't do all those things the Bible claims or people believe. I don't know of anyone, ANYONE, who would willingly allow themselves to be tortured and then nailed to a Cross until dead just for the he ll of it the way he did. So yeah, in that respect, he was 'special'.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • jesus liked dudes

      You say that it like he was a real person.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Disposable Lighter Larry

      I see someone is guilty of idiocy! Jesus probably didn't exist. How special is that? Not very.
      Thousands and thousands of other people got tortured to death. There is nothing special about being tortured to death.

      And, by the way you idiot, most people never have a "choice" of whether they are tortured or not.
      Simply being stupid and getting killed by soldiers doesn't make anyone "special", so go suck your Jesus-dick and stay the hell off the internet.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • TR6

      @You May Be Right, But Then Again.... : "ANYONE, who would willingly allow themselves to be tortured and then nailed to a Cross until dead just for the he ll of it the way he did. So yeah, in that respect, he was 'special'."

      David Koresh and 84 of the Branch Dividians must be even more 'special' because they chose to burn to death for their beliefs

      September 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • End Religion

      @mayberight: "Well, he was special, even if he didn't do all those things the Bible claims or people believe. I don't know of anyone, ANYONE, who would willingly allow themselves to be tortured and then nailed to a Cross until dead just for the he ll of it the way he did. So yeah, in that respect, he was 'special'."

      You mean like the other guys who were nailed up beside him? They were tortured and nailed to crosses the same as the fictional jesus, weren't they? Does this mean we have more gods on our hands?

      September 28, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  4. RE McCray

    Since CNN censors its comments, I will try this again.

    The Catholic church is notorious for lying. They have for centuries – this is not surprising that they would denounce something that would forever change every doctrine the church has promoted to its flock for more than 2000 years. Just know that you are dealing with an organization is known to lie to its flock for financial gain.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      There is no censorship here.

      There is however a naughty word filter. If your submission contains word fragments with any of the naughty words like t-it (t-itle, inst-itute, Const-itution) or c-um (doc-ument) etc then your post will not be published.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • JD

      Actually they do censor comments that oppose certain subjects. If the moderators strongly oppose, don't be surprised if your comment "disappears", I've seen it multiple times on here. No surprise, CNN, Fox, MSNBC...They all stick to one side of every debate and story. And of course, Moderators are only people.... Onto this topic though, Catholicism is one of the strongest organizations in the world, yes, it is an organization, with a leader. Of course they oppose this theory... We could have a time traveling machine that took us back to the time of Jesus and his wife, and they would still find some way to call it fake.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Jeez another paranoid moron.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JD,

      I have seen posts of 1000s of words of the same stock content pasted over and over again removed – eventually.

      Last time I checked, the 'report abuse' function seems to have been disabled. Once upon a time, I understand it returned a number – now it just returns 0.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  5. Machiavelli

    I don't think he had a wife because that would mean he would have a mother-in-law and that would have been another whole book in the Bible !

    September 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • DON'T QUIT THE DAY JOB

      .............

      September 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • grahame rhodes

      Of course he was married. He was Jewish and had a Jewish mother.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • JimmyG

      Prove he even existed first....THEN we can talk about what he may or may not have been.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Jesus is DEAD FOREVER so you'd better find another joke to pray to

      How do you prove Santa Clause exists? You just repeat yourself as many times as necessary and make sure there are lots of pictures of Santa everywhere and make sure to say those presents were from him. Easy. Just like any Jesus lies.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  6. Mark

    Supposedly, this fragment may have dated from the fourth century, or about 300 years after Jesus lived. In other words, 300 years after he would have been married. We rely on the gospels in the New Testament because they were written by people who were alive at the same time as Jesus. So, if you're married and someone was going to write about your life, would you want it written by someone who knew you personally and get be as accurate as possible? Or would you want someone to wait 300 years and then write about your life?

    September 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Does any atheists on this site know that fiction comes from the movie the Da Vinci Code? You guys will grab at any straw.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Does any atheists on this site know that fiction comes from the movie the Da Vinci Code?

      Huh?

      Yes, Virginia, the "DaVinci Code" is a work of fiction.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Mark

      Toomuch, are you calling me an atheist? Really? Let me try making my point another way. The gospels say nothing about whether Jesus was married or not. We rely on them because they are primary source histories or biographies written by people who either witnessed the events themselves, or spoke with others who witnessed the events. So, when you rely on something that was written three centuries after the fact, instead of something written a few decades after the fact, the later assertions are not going to be as reliable especially when they rely on secondary sources. Look at the the other so-called gospels supposedly written by disciples, Jesus's mother etc. They are all written at least 100 years after the purported author was supposed to have lived. In other words, they are fakes, phonies, frauds, etc. That's why they are not in the Bible to begin with. Please be sure someone really is an atheist before you start calling them that. Thanks.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Mark, All Christians are the brides of Jesus and he is the bridegroom. You'd know that if you read the Bible.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      Here comes a runner with a torch, his shoes dangerously untied. This must be the beginning of the Olympics of the Stupid. One deluded religious person arguing against another about which imaginary people/tenets are the True ones is very entertaining.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  7. Thomas

    If anyone knows fake, it's the Vatican. They invented fake.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Elena

      I am no friend of the Vatican, but how did they invented fake, can you give an example?

      September 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Shut up, troll

      .

      September 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • RE McCray

      The truth.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      Proof that the Vatican invented fake: http://goo.gl/UxPi

      September 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  8. Other Meanings

    The word "wife", according to M-W Dictionary, is also said to mean a woman or a female who acts in a certain capacity. In this context it is entirely possible that Jesus could have used the term to describe several women who followed His teachings and assisted Him, such as Mary Magdalene, for one. Today, we would refer to such women as administrative assistants, religious assistants, or secretaries who would follow Jesus and take notes of what transpired in His life.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Medium Rare

      Bill Clinton's definition of IS 😉

      September 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Elena

      are you looking for the word wife in English or ancient Hebrew, cause meaning can be quite different?

      September 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Shut up, troll

      ,.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      In this context the word is neither English nor is it ancient Hebrew. The fragment is written in 4th century Sahidic Coptic.

      Go ahead look it up. There are links in the article.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      In the draft version of her findings called “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus", Karen L. King says:

      The meaning of taàime* as “my wife” is unequivocal; the word can have only this meaning. Given that Jesus is the speaker, the possessive article indicates that he is speaking of his wife.

      * Characters are subst'tuted. Please refer to the original.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Oscar Pitchfork

    Of course the ring-kissin', child-buggerin' VATICAN would DECREE that it's false. They don't want any of their dogma (and wine) soaked lemmings tottering off to look at the 'squirrel' of the day...

    September 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  10. Mike V

    In other news, the Bible was found to be a fake.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      Your opinion.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Hehhhheheh

      That's not news. People have known the Bible was full of BS since before it was written.
      And it's not an opinion, but a fact. There is no god and no "Jesus" waiting in the sky to help you find your car keys. Fact.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  11. hogwash Dao

    Why is the churd so AGAINST Jsus having a wife ?? Isn't it churd traditional dogma that every adult MALE should have a WIFE and PROCREATE as much as he can ?????

    September 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  12. Elena

    I see consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We can not get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
    Max Plank
    (The Observer (25 January 1931)

    September 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  13. LOL

    It's funny how in the bible, god says stuff like "I am the lord! I am the lord thy god! I will crush you with lots of fury and pain! I am the lord!"
    kinda sounds exactly like what a primitive priest would imagine a big strong god saying, rather than anything an actual divine being might say.....................
    sort of makes you wonder when the words supposedly uttered by the almighty god of creation sound just like the drunken ravings of some homicidal barbarian idiot.......................

    September 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Elena

      factuality you should attack Judaism cuz they invented that story, but remember they will accuse you of being antisemite

      September 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  14. Elena

    This must be the work of jews, they persecuted Jesus and had persecuted Christianity ever since and will persecute Christians in the future!

    September 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Oh look-----herbie's trying to troll again with yet another new user name

      Sorry, loser, you can't hide your idiocy,
      the stink of your sh!t posts can be smelled a mile away.......................................

      September 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Elena

      idiot! all i can say to you

      September 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • John

      I believe Jesus was a Jew. This makes you not only a bigot but a sinner and are destined to go to 666! So hold you mouth and go back to Afghanistan where you can be shot.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      This was more the work of those who would love all religious beliefs to fall into a heap of dust. Back in the day, it was the non believers, specifically the Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate, who carried through with torture and then the persecution of Christ. The Jewish people were used as scape goats to relieve the conscience of Pilate. Pilate said he has washed his hands of Jesus' fate, but his hands was still very much stained with his blood, even though he was reluctant to send Christ to his death.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      I meant' his hands were very much stained....'

      September 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Elena

      yes Jesus was a Jew but he was persecuted not only for saying he was the son of God but also because he exposed the farisees indecent behaviours. Furthermore, Jesus was direct descendant of King David making him Herr to the throne as king of Israel. Not just Jesus was persecuted, all his followers had to hide to save their lives

      September 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Jews persecuting Christianity??!!

      Jews persecuting Christianity??!!
      Have you heard about Hitler and his army of Christians, slaughtering about 6 MILLION! Jews about 70 years ago? Please explain to me how the Jews in pre WWII Germany were "persecuting" christians

      September 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Elana, Jesus was a Jesus was a 'Judean', not a Jew.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • TooMuch

      I must clean my mouse. Jesus was a 'Judean', not a Jew

      September 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  15. not a j freak

    who care if he had a wife.,,,,,,,and again it will be wonderfull news to know he had a wife becuase a single man hanging out with 12 men all the time and then washing their feet just sounds gay as hell.......

    September 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • cincinnatidavid

      Some of the Catholics care.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • TooMuch

      All Christians are the brides of Christ. Mary Magdalen was a Christian, therefore, she too is a bride of Christ

      September 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  16. Linda Taylor

    What about the Shroud of Turin?

    September 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What about it? They don't officially claim that it is genuine.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Jesus is DEAD FOREVER so you'd better find some other joke to pray to

      It's already been debunked all over the place. It was made during the Crusades by a Frenchman who wrote a letter to the Vatican telling what he had done. They still have the letter.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Rock0f@ges

      You stupid crackhead! JESUS is not dead. Only a complete IDIOT would make such a statement.
      You want to go to HELL for blasphemy, keep that foolish crap to yourself. Other people choose to believe in the risen Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR.
      You are a puppet of SATAN, spewing that garbage. It will be a sad day for you when you discover the TRUTH.
      And it will be too late for you.
      People wonder why the world is so screwed up. It's because of idiots like you. Amazing how disrespectful of others beliefs some people are. I will not sit quietly and let some goat-head blaspheme the LORD! You have been warned. REPENT.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Elena

      I mean how can Americans be so ignorant, to say that Jesus was invented during the crusades! like really you people don't have a brain or what?
      Then I wonder who told Constantine the story of Jesus?

      September 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Elena,

      perhaps you are joking, otherwise you seem to be struggling with context. The assertion is that the shroud of Turin was created during the crusades, not Jesus.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • JimmyG

      I think Elena is off her meds today.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • End Religion

      @rock: "You stupid crackhead! JESUS is not dead."

      The jesus you worship did not exist. If he did, he rotted thousands of years ago.

      ***
      "Only a complete IDIOT would make such a statement. You want to go to HELL for blasphemy, keep that foolish crap to yourself."

      Hell does not exist. Please send photos if you have them.

      ***
      "Other people choose to believe in the risen Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR."

      How does it possibly matter what one believes? If you don't have empirical evidence, it's just a theory. Why are you basing your life around imaginary beings?

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj2ExnNv0o0&w=640&h=360]

      ***
      "You are a puppet of SATAN, spewing that garbage."

      There is no such thing, and all we're doing is talking. Why are you so intolerant?

      ***
      "It will be a sad day for you when you discover the TRUTH. And it will be too late for you."

      The truth is essentially already discovered; you simply don't accept it.

      ***
      "People wonder why the world is so screwed up. It's because of idiots like you. Amazing how disrespectful of others beliefs some people are. I will not sit quietly and let some goat-head blaspheme the LORD! You have been warned. REPENT."

      The world is not screwed up. It continues evolving, and change is scary for old folks. I think it keeps getting better. Hopefully soon we'll be rid of religion altogether and then you'll need to find other reasons to hate so much. You have been warned.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  17. Kerry Buttplug

    Either way, they're still stories of a long ago time misunderstood by people who have no grasp of metaphor or historical context.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  18. rickirs

    Cites substantial reasons but provides no details other than "it's fake." God help us it the Son of God actually behaved like Man who was made in God's image.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      You may be right, but then again...it's a fake. Not even a good one. The paper looks deliberately torn in certain places, not due to age and wear, in my estimation, and the writing is: too neat, too perfect, too rigid. I'm not Catholic by the way, but I do use several senses to incorporate a very 'discerning' eye to deduce and then arrive at my own conclusion. Please don't allow your own religious prejudices cloud your eyes.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • TooMuch

      I loved to be a fly on the wall when the atheists find out that God only allows us to use 5% of our mental capacities functioning while on earth. 100% recall is when we are back in spiritual bodies. Then it's to late for the atheist complainers for they will be on the wrong side of the gulf in heaven.

      May I add, Glory, Glory, Glory.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @TooMuch

      I will never understand how people can willfully choose to be sociopathic assholes, as you seem to be fond of doing.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      @2little: "I loved to be a fly on the wall when the atheists find out that God only allows us to use 5% of our mental capacities functioning while on earth. 100% recall is when we are back in spiritual bodies. Then it's to late for the atheist complainers for they will be on the wrong side of the gulf in heaven."

      Please provide the empirical evidence for your claim. I'm sure many would love to share in the joy of your discovery.

      Why is it you seem to relish not only "being right" but that others seem wrong? Why do you find joy in what you perceive is our ignorance? It seems right on target to me that you claim religion because it is the height of hypocrisy. You claim love yet practice hate.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • TooMuch

      hawaiiguest, I know it's difficult to be an atheist, but, you chose to stay a heathen.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • TooMuch

      It's easy to be correct over a heathen.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  19. Mateo

    Long live Galileo! Sorry. A little off the subject.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • cincinnatidavid

      Actually, not very far off-subject.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mateo,

      sorry, but Gaileo is dead. Heliocentricity lives!

      September 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • TooMuch

      "God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word."

      Galileo Galilei, though famous for his scientific achievements in astronomy, mathematics, and physics, and infamous for his controversy with the church was, in fact, a devout Christian who saw not a divorce of religion and science but only a healthy marriage: "God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word."

      September 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  20. augustghost

    Jesus got a woody...so what

    September 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      JC is kind of the sacrificial lamb and if the lamb is not pure enough god refuses the sacrifice. while i got news for you he already drank quite profusely, this is a worldly indulgence and a sin(Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4, 7, 14; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12), he also mercilessly killed fruit tree; because he was, one drunk at the time, and two because it wouldn't give him fruit (you think if he was god he would just make the tree bountiful, but no he kills it.) and tree, the tree wasn't even in season. (murderer)

      according to the Shinto to eat anything that requires you to take any life is is to devour life and this is impure, so one you have eating the fruit of this world you are apart of it, same applies for heaven and hell. and the book says do not be apart of there world, its a sin.

      Jesus Kami/soul is impure, and not fit for sacrifice, unless he under went a purification ritual before his death, and $1,000 i will purify you/ just joking the purification of your Kami is the one thing a Shintoist wont charge you for.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • TooMuch

      1 John 5:20

      "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."

      September 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • JimmyG

      "And we know that Jesus was a stupid filthy liar who knew nothing of the real world and was finally caught and tortured to death for being a worthless blasphemer who never knew when to shut up."
      MFB 22:44

      September 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Well, well, well Jimmy, Jesus created everything.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      TooMuch

      that s a lie

      September 29, 2012 at 7:48 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.