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March 16th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

The pope's four biggest challenges

By John L. Allen, Jr., CNN

Editor's note: John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

Rome (CNN) - Every new leader gets a honeymoon period, and Pope Francis is smack dab in the middle of his. His gestures of simplicity and humility, set against the traditional grandeur of the papacy, have captured the imagination of the world.

Frankly, a whole team of PR wizards couldn’t have scripted a better start to his papacy.

At some point, however, charm alone won’t be enough, because Francis will have to turn to the heavy lifting of actually governing the world’s largest and most centrally organized religious body. Taking stock of where Catholicism stands today, he’s got his work cut out for him.

Four challenges loom especially large for the new pope.

First, two-thirds of the 1.2 billion Catholics on the planet today live in the Southern Hemisphere, a share projected to reach three-quarters by mid-century. If Catholicism was once a Western faith, associated with institutional power and privilege, its center of gravity is now in the developing world and its membership is strongest among the poor.

As the first pope from Latin America, and the first pope from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years, Francis carries the aspirations and expectations of all those non-Western Catholics with him into the papacy. They will expect him to be a tribune for their concerns: the inequities of a globalized economy, the carnage of war and violence, environmental degradation, and the perception that international affairs are stacked against the interests of smaller and poorer nations.

Sooner or later, a heart that's in the right place won’t be enough for those folks. They’ll expect Pope Francis to revive the diplomatic and political capital of the papacy, perceived to have diminished during the Benedict XVI years, in order to move the ball on their agenda.

It remains to be seen whether a 76-year-old intellectual, perceived to have had a rocky relationship with Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, will be able to fulfill those expectations. It’s obviously unreasonable to expect one man, even a pope, to solve deep-seated maladies such as poverty and violence by himself, but the growing share of Catholics suffering the burden of these inequities at least expect him to try.

5 things to know about the new pope

Second, the most harrowing Christian storyline of the early 21st century is the rising tide of anti-Christian violence and persecution in various global hotspots. From the Middle East to Sub-Saharan Africa, from India to Eritrea, Christians today often find themselves in the firing line, and they’ll expect the new pope to have their backs.

The statistics are staggering. According to the International Society for Human Rights in Frankfurt, Germany, fully 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. According to the Pew Forum in Washington, Christians face some form of harassment in 137 nations, two-thirds of all countries on earth.

In the most bone-chilling assertion of all, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary claims that an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed for the faith each year for the past 10 years. That works out to 11 new Christian martyrs every hour of every day for the past decade.

Some experts believe that estimate to be inflated, but no one disputes the big picture. In Europe and the United States, a threat to your religious freedom means you might get sued. For scores of Christians in other parts of the world, it means you might get shot, which obviously rates higher on the urgency meter.

Christians under threat will expect Pope Francis to act on their behalf. Many believe that Benedict said the right things but never mobilized the resources of the Catholic Church to make an effective difference on the ground.

The first test for the new pope is likely to come in Syria, where Christian leaders are terrified that they’ll be the next Iraq, meaning the next country where Christians are the primary victims of the chaos and rising Islamic militancy that follows the collapse of a police state. Last fall Benedict XVI tried to dispatch a high-level delegation of five cardinals to Syria to appeal for peace, but it fell apart amid confusion about its mission.

A complete outsider to the world of the Vatican, Francis will be challenged to get his hands around its diplomatic apparatus quickly and to use it effectively.

Third, Francis inherits the unfinished business of the clerical sexual abuse scandals, which represent the greatest blow to the moral authority of the Catholic Church in centuries. In many ways, Benedict XVI was a reformer on the scandals, meeting with victims, apologizing for their suffering and embracing a “zero tolerance” policy for abuser priests.

Bergoglio's journey to the top of the Church

Critics, however, believe the process of reform has a long way to go, beginning with accountability not just for the priests who abuse but for the bishops who cover it up. The world will be waiting for a clear signal from Francis that his legendary “closeness to the people” includes compassion for abuse victims, and that prelates who mishandle abuse complaints will pay a price.

He’ll also have to make hard decisions on other unresolved questions about the abuse scandals, such as whether to impose a “mandatory reporter” policy on all bishops worldwide, requiring them to relay all allegations to civil police and prosecutors, and whether to order dioceses to release their files on accused priests.

There may well be good reasons for not taking those steps, at least as a matter of binding global policy. There are some corners of the world, for instance, where police and prosecutors don’t always have the best interests of justice at heart, and a policy of automatic cooperation could be tantamount to a suicide pact. At minimum, however, Pope Francis will have to explain the logic for his choices in a transparent fashion, in order to convince the world that the Catholic Church has turned a corner.

As history’s first Latin American pope, Francis is especially conscious that so far the sex abuse crisis really hasn’t exploded across the developing world as it has in Europe and North America. That may impose extra pressure to get ahead of the curve, sparing the Church in his part of the world the painful experiences of Catholics in the West.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Fourth, Pope Francis also inherits a Church in Europe and North America that appears to be increasingly at odds with the surrounding secular culture.

In the United States, the Catholic bishops and other Christian leaders are still wrestling with the Obama administration over contraception mandates issued as part of health care reform, with the specter of prolonged litigation and nasty public fights. In the United Kingdom, several Catholic adoption agencies have been shut down after the 2010 “Equality Act” made it illegal for them to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, considered the leading intellectual light among the American bishops, issued an ominous forecast in 2010: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

These tensions with the broader culture are exacerbated by divisions within the Church. A Pew Forum poll taken shortly after Benedict XVI announced his resignation found that 46 percent of American Catholics wanted the next pope to move Catholicism in a more progressive direction, while 51 percent wanted him to maintain its traditional teachings. That’s a fair reflection of the deep left/right divide within the Church.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus famously says that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” In many ways, the Catholic Church across the West is just such a house divided, plagued by tensions among competing tribes – pro-life Catholics versus the peace-and-justice crowd, liturgical traditionalists against innovators, dissident theologians against hard-line bishops, not to mention the free-for-all of the Catholic blogosphere, where no spleen ever goes unvented.

Francis will be expected to reach across those fault lines, reminding Catholics of what they have in common rather than what divides them, and working out a modus vivendi with an increasingly skeptical secular world.

Despite being a staunch theological conservative, Francis has a lifetime of experience within the Jesuit religious order, where the center of gravity tends to be more to the left. Perhaps that background will give him a leg up on trying to heal fractures within the Church, and in its relationships with the wider world.

So far, Pope Francis hasn’t made many substantive moves to address these challenges, but he has gone some distance towards reframing the debate.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Traditionally, critics accuse the Catholic leadership of being out of touch and drunk on its own power. That’s likely to be a harder case to make against a pontiff who shuns his limousine in favor of taking the bus, who packs his own bags and pays his own bills, and who makes his own phone calls.

Those may be small touches, but popes teach as much with their deeds as with their words, and so far Francis’ gestures have spoken to a humbler, simpler style of leadership.

Gestures alone won’t spare the pope tough choices. They may, however, incline the world to give the pope making them a greater benefit of the doubt. For a Church that’s long had an image problem, this alone can’t help but seem an awfully promising start.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. HeavenSense

    I hate that stinkin' Lord. If he were real I would kick the shit out of him for being so stupid.

    March 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  2. kevobx

    Revelation 7 find your tribe or shut up! The 144,000 are (Exodus 2:25)

    March 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of the free agency debacle with NFL player Elvis Dumervil that cost his agent his job and the Broncos a starter!

      March 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Your god is just a myth

      There was a time my friend when your religion was so influential that they had people put to death for speaking out. Thankfully today you (religious believers) have to be civil and need to defend their beliefs with dialogue. If you choose to. If you don't like listening to it that's just too bad. I'm sorry.

      March 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  3. kevobx

    When death comes to the door, what will the people say then? (*Job 32:11*) *John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. *Micah 4:5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

    March 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • AB

      I will ask the "Tan Mom" to save me.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Your god is just a myth

      You keep quoting scripture. This is a discussion group.

      March 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      good luck with your vindictive pr1ck god, kevobx

      March 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  4. Reality

    Why all leaders of religion will soon be "pink-slipped":->>

    Only for the new members of this blog. Older members are quite aware of the flaws in the foundations of the major religions.

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

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    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. “
    prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    March 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Reality

      And for those who are reading-challenged:

      SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
      THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.

      SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
      THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

      SAVING 15.5 MILLION FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
      ABRAHAM AND MOSES AS BEST ONE CAN TELL NEVER EXISTED.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Leon Spinks

      And for those peoples whoms likthes eggths, try 'em scramble, hod boil, or poach!

      March 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  5. SoPoJim

    Of course they're popular in poorer nations because ignorance is a by-product of poor. If Man can survive long enough,religion will eventually go away

    March 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  6. kevobx

    Those who hate on the word of God, they love their things more, just ask them. *1st Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: *Psalm 81:15 The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: *2nd Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

    March 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I don't hate the word of god because the bible is not the word of god. There is not one single word in it that was put there by a god.
      Put that silly book down and join us in reality.

      March 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some Christians believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    =================================================
    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
    ===========

    March 17, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    March 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Correctlycenter

    A nation hellbent on atheism leads to totalitarianism/communism. Which leads to a crazed, and potentially murderous and backward puppet like Kim Jung Un of the godless nation of North Korea. He has the same evil spirit as Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot. Ban Christ and replace Him with a ruthless tyrant. So much for reason, logic and science, which is lacking in North Korea...

    March 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • End Religion

      As with any religion's head honcho, "God in heaven" is the celestial Kim Jong-un of North Korea, requiring strict devotion and worship at penalty of torture. That's not love, it's slavery, which some religious will tell you they gladly accept. I do not.

      As for the "debunking," there really isn't much left to debunk. All religions claim to be the "one true path." Nearly every religion is fractured into even tinier branches all claiming to be the only "truth." Since they cannot all be "true" the chance any one is such, on that one point alone, is miniscule. Understanding mankind has a history of creating gods lessens that chance.

      As for Christianity, scholars both religious and not, arguably tend to agree there is some minute evidence a guy named Jesus (and there were likely many) walked around during that time period, likely getting confused with the many other Jesuses (Jesii?). However many also agree there is simply zero evidence of anything supernatural about him. In fact there were *many* deluded dudes running around claiming divinity during this time, much like there are plenty of crazy folks claiming it today.

      We understand what constitutes the bible are fictional stories passed off by the relatively ignorant as the "inerrant word of a god". Some stories are the ravings of zealots the religious refer to loosely as "eyewitnesses" but who never actually witnessed Jesus, some other stories outright polished pre-existing myths which had been watered down word of mouth for decades if not longer before being written in a language no longer spoken, then translated any number of times and again "polished" by other men who got together to vote which "inerrant words of god" they personally liked best and which other "words" were tossed out before foisting this off as the official "word of god."

      The people involved in early religion have barely the body of knowledge an average 10th grade student has today. We're not talking stupidity here, we are simply talking about access to facts of our reality: ignorance.

      Then follow the cult sects and their adherents who base their life upon this book. The truly ludicrous impossibly claim the entire thing is, in its current state, still the inerrant word of god. The more moderate among adherents somehow claim "it's just allegory," leaving it open to interpretation and the inevitable clashes over who's right about a book that is supposed to be the word of a god. The delusion is amazing!

      Savor that for a moment. An all powerful omniscient god, who demands all of mankind's devotion upon pain of eternal torture, supposedly feels some papyrus scrolls (with writing in a language no one speaks and which is also open to further interpretation) is the best way to communicate his childish demands. He doesn't whisper his petulant commandments to us individually (no matter what region of the world we live in)? He doesn't "inpire" the elders to record his selfish needs in more than one language, at least not one he supposedly knows will stop being used? He doesn't clue the elders into using stone instead of papyrus, which even Hammurabi had enough foresight to use before the bible?

      March 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Akira

      You need to learn the difference between "atheism" and "secular".
      Also, CC, what you assert is patently absurd for a very good reason: term limits.
      No one POTUS will ever be in office long enough to garner the kind of power that is needed for the kinds of regimes you posted.
      And it wasn't atheism that powered those regimes; it was totalitarianism. As you are aware.
      Please. This kind of "the ski is falling" scenario is absurd.
      Atheists only make up a very small portion of the population. If anything, it would be the majority – Christians – who would make that doomsday scene happen.
      I don't believe that, either.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Akira

      *SKY is falling...

      March 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Your god is just a myth

      Maybe you can explain Mr Know it All why Sweden which has the highest rate of agnostics and atheists in the world is getting long just fine. Their not aging ny issues withTotalitarianism / communism

      March 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  10. kevobx

    Correction, do you tests the spirits? *Habakkuk 3:14 their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. *Exodus 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. *Revelation 3:12 and I will write upon him my new name. *1st Corinthians 8:6-7 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: *Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. *Hosea 7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. (Psalm 77:15 wake up my people)

    March 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • End Religion

      The Christian god has the same traits as an abusive partner:
      • you have to fear him to receive his love
      • you are unworthy of his love
      • you are nothing without him
      • if you do not love him he will hurt you
      • he doesn't want to punish you – it's really your fault
      • he threatens you if he thinks you might break things off
      • at all times he needs to know where you are, what you're doing and thinking so he can control your thoughts and behavior
      • doesn't want you to get an education because you'll realize you don't need him anymore and break up
      • worst of all, you have to bring him beer and a sammich

      March 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  11. Your god is just a myth

    I've god good news and bad news for you Christians out there. For billions and billions of years you have been dead. When you die you will again no longer exist. Get over it. The good news is you don't have to concern yourself with a celestial dictator. 🙂

    March 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Correctlycenter

      Charles Darwin did not create the heavens and the earth, God did! The true "myth" is evolution and the lies taught to our kids is without any intelligent logic, reason and science...

      March 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      What CC said, except the opposite.

      March 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      CC, why do you want to condemn our children to your ignorance? Darwin made no claim about the heaven and earth – just species. And he's been proven right, so evolution-denial is the stuff of myths.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  12. kevobx

    The entire world has been deceived, to embrace cultural lies, they are all honestly lying. Satanists hate grace and truth. Who is cunning in the Bible? Subtle is the devil transforming himself into an angel of light. *Exodus 20:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. *Revelation 3:12 and I will write upon him my new name.

    March 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Your god is just a myth

      Wow Kevobx you sound creepy

      March 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus
      Thomas L. Brodie
      "Jesus did not exist as a historical individual"

      Bart Ehrman
      http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/05/15/bible.critic/index.html (debunks the bible)
      In another Bart D. Ehrman book his introductory statement is similar to mine, there was likely some dude named jesus but there is no proof he was divine.

      So, you list scholars who've proved some dude named jesus existed. We list scholars who say no special jesus existed. And then we both post OTHER people who call our experts crazy and uneducated.

      And around we go herding translucent cats in a dark basement, landing back down on your belief versus my need for proof. So until I have that proof, jesus son of god did not exist. And since I know the bible is a book of lies concocted by men, and there exists nothing else that could even be considered "evidence", your god doesn't exist either. Since god doesn't exist it's a safe assumption any jesus mentioned was just a regular dude built up via myth.

      But I will leave the door cracked for you that there exists the chance that one day there may be proven a creator.

      March 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  13. No more Pope articles

    Is this what hell is like?

    March 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  14. kevobx

    Exodus 16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day. *Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

    March 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      You do not need religion to be a nice person. You do not need religion to tell you right from wrong. You do not need religion to do your thinking for you. There is no heaven, no hell, no god. There is only us, hopefully treating each other the way we wish others to treat us.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  15. kevobx

    The most high God is over Jehovah! *Psalm 78:56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: Wake upthe white man thou is Jehovah who loves art *Psalm 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. *Job 9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked:

    March 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      You have the strength within you to overcome your troubles. Religious folks are not concerned for your well being, they simply want converts (more people to eventually give them money). They won't ask for the money up front, and they'll seem incredibly nice to begin with but like drugs, once you're hooked it can get ugly.

      March 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      jeebus is waiting for you, kevobx. do you have tall buildings were you live? if not, do you have a sidearm?

      March 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  16. End Religion

    "I'll take religious buffoonery for $500, please."

    March 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • End Religion

      jokes really lose impact when one tards up the reply function...

      March 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jerry

      The phrase "religious buffoonery" is a redundant redundancy.

      March 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • ..

      Lol.

      March 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  17. He knows Evil

    Its like God has send Good to combat Evil.

    At a time when OBAMA's Drones kill innocents by the thousands, silently seeking and killing throughout the world.
    At a time when OBAMA gives himself the right to kill an American without due process.
    At a time when OBAMA authorizes those Drones to spy and kill upon US, unleashed upon US citizens.
    God has sent Pope Francis I.

    The Pope Francis knows Evil, he knows the Devil will appear in many forms.
    He knows the Devil will preach peace yet send drones to kill.
    He knows the Devil will preach salvation to the poor and give trinkets like food stamps while raising the price of milk from $1.85 to $4.55 a gallon.
    He knows the Devil will preach freedom and liberty while working to take those freedoms and liberties away from you.
    Yes, Pope Francis knows Evil.

    Pope Francis will not be afraid to combat Evil.

    March 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • ..

      You're really stupid, aren't you? Do you think Francis is going to do anything concerning the US?
      All you wanted to do is bitch about the POTUS. You don't give a fuck about the new Pope.

      March 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      @HeKnowsEvil: I enjoyed your post about Bush, Junior.

      March 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Your god is just a myth

      Really. WOW.

      March 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  18. palintwit

    The pope is to catholics what Sarah Palin is to the teabillies. They are both to be ridiculed at every opportunity.

    March 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  19. Brian M

    test – maybe this article will work. that other one is hosed.

    March 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  20. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    "K.C.s Sunshiney Disco Apocalypse
    sayz, .............................
    Actually, I don't want to know any more. It creeps me out that there are people like him walking the streets. At least as a felon he cannot own a gun."

    You don't get "crime and punishment", do you?? After somebody pays the fine and does the time they should be free and fully restored. Got a demon livin' in your temple?? BBBBBwwwwwahahahaha

    March 17, 2013 at 5:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
    lol??
    And no, I didn't demonize you. It was your own DIY project...BBBBBBWWwwwaaaaahahahaha...

    March 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ..

      What is, the best of moronic comments, Alex?

      March 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      "I'll take religious buffoonery for $500, please."

      March 17, 2013 at 2:00 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.