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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.

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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. Truth

    When someone is nasty
    or treats you poorly,
    don't take it personally.

    It says nothing about you
    but a lot about them.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      When someone capitalizes "truth", it usually means they are not that interested in finding it and are more interested in trying to convince others they have already found it.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • meifumado

      When someone is delusional and thinks they have a relationship with an imaginary being, Keep them away from those you hold dear.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Alias

      you can't even offer advice to children here anymore without someone proving your point.
      On the other hand, when everyone treats you poorly, maybe you should wonder:
      Is an issue with everyone else – or you?

      March 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  2. kevobx

    The people love Jesus with their lips and the world hates Christ with their heart. The Gentiles are proud, God will resists them. But the children of Israel have respect from God his people are the twelve tribes. The no man hides behind honesty, and charity that's dropping science, so prove all things. America is a satanists country the truth sets you free. Revelation 7 is the bloodlines of the black man Jacob. *Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. *Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. *Psalm 77:15 Thou hast redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. *Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: *Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM:

    March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God's chosen people, the 12 Tribes, the Children of Israel, don't believe in Satan.
      It's going to be awfully hard to convince them that the US is a "satanist's country".

      March 18, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • sam stone

      You have no authority to speak for god, kevobx.....

      Vomit out all the scripture you wish....they are the words of man as surely as "It's your dog, Charlie Brown" are

      March 18, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Ken

      kevobx
      Are you a Christian, a Jew, or something else entirely? I can't tell based on your comments.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Akira

      Ken, he's a poe. The other day he posted that "colored people" and Hispanics are satanists.
      He's all over the place. I think this is someone who is amusing himself.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  3. Saraswati

    The media like pointing out that Catholicism's growth is among the poor in developing nations. The populations are just as well defined by levels of desperation and lack of education. The biggest challenge the pope faces is continuing to spread an outdated belief system among a population that is increasingly comfortable enough not to be desperate for easy answers and educated enough to understand the physical, psychological social and historical weaknesses in the Catholic story.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • SAAB

      The biggest challenge the pope faces is.......stop Islamic wild fire.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Saraswati

      Catholicism is unlikely to halt the spread of Islam. At home (traditionally Islamic areas) it will be the same as in western countries: rising secularism and more liberal alternatives, like Baha'i (though their anti-gay stance will ultimately take them down too). In other regions (the west and poor countries) it will compete with other highly conservative beliefs, with Catholicism probably not quite conservative enough to be a real compet itor.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • SAAB

      history is repeating itself, Islam is raising it's ugly head, Christians countries are at more danger this time; wars in the middle east are fueled by religious forces behind the screen, not oil as people think.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      That is a great point Sara.

      I think part of the problem is convincing an educated poulace that their far outdated teachings make sense, contraception as an example.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, I agree. I don't really think that argument convinces that many people to give up their outdated gods. Basic modern education and comfortable living conditions tend to erase outdated religions on their own. If a religion is still needed, something more in line with modern knowledge will be adopted, at least given a free market of ideas.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Sara,

      My Catholic mother is a perfect example. She did not follow all the churches teaching because they did not make sense to her. She is still however a staunch Catholic. Her children that watched her pick and choose are not.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  4. kevobx

    The fourth book of Moses, called Numbers clearly explains Revelation 7 those who are the 144,000 sealed. Find your tribe. The Gentiles are being blinded by the most high God. (Acts 13:10-11)

    March 18, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • clarity

      So the substance-abusing John of Patmos injected some of what he remembered of the Numbers story into his mess. Whoop-de-doo.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Austin

      kevobx, some people think the rapture happens first. we dont know for sure do we? that also refrers to actual people who are saved IN the trib. not those saved before the trib.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  5. the AnViL™

    the vatican should be razed, the adherents of catholicism scattered – and its clergy burned on great pyres of the roman catholic cannon.

    there is no more filthy, disgusting, vile, evil organization on the earth than the roman catholic church.

    the only people who would disagree are ignorant about the history of this repugnant church.

    it must be destroyed in its present form.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • Science

      the AnViL™ just wondering do you think the creationists shared this at mass Sunday ?

      Why the Higgs boson 'God particle' matters

      First theorized 50 years ago, Higgs boson explains why particles have mass

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/03/14/f-god-particle-higgs-boson-why-matters.html

      Peace

      March 18, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • the AnViL™

      science – creationists are not intelligent enough to understand particle physics – so they probably did not share it... and if they did – they only mentioned it to declare it a pack of lies from the pit of hell.

      ya know – like evolution and the big bang.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Science

      Could they be cloned .................. Stem cell research and the RCC do not mix ... not good for humanity.

      Scientists Produce Cloned Embryos of Extinct Frog

      Mar. 15, 2013 — The genome of an extinct Australian frog has been revived and reactivated by a team of scientists using sophisticated cloning technology to implant a "dead" cell nucleus into a fresh egg from another frog species.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Science

      Oops source

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130315151044.htm

      March 18, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  6. Superman

    Clearly, these times indicate that a democracy is no better than a monarchy. In fact, a righteous king is infinitely better than any democracy! A democracy is the devil's design by increasing the world's sinful nature by peer pressure and mass media propaganda.

    March 18, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • AB

      What facts have you based these conclusions on?

      March 18, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Superman

      It's called wisdom. And no, fools can't comprehend it.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:04 am |
    • AB

      Well there it is.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Accepting your baseless assertions would be the exact opposite of wisdom.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Barbossa

      Superman learned that wisdom on an island that can't be found unless you're good and lost.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • ME II

      A benevolent dictatorship can be one of the most efficient forms of government there is. The problem is getting the benevolent part and keeping it.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • ME II

      Wasn't it Churchill who said, or at least reiterated, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried. "

      p.s. @Superman, that's one of the guys that beat the "master race" in WWII.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II, That Churchill quote is one I always keep in mind when seeing the worst of democracy. It has serious flaws and certainly may not be the best system out there – but I have yet to see anything I would dare take on as a long term alternative. People are not very bright and are pretty self-interested, but at least their interests somewhat balance each other out in a democracy...not perfectly, but better than the alternatives. I think the problem is expecting perfection.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Ken

      Saraswati
      Democracy isn't perfect, but it is the best system of rule out there. What amazes me is that millions of supposedly patriotic Christian Americans just can't wait for King Jesus to show up, end all democratic government on the planet, and rule us all under his dictatorship. So much for the "Land of the Free" if that ever happens, eh?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • ME II

      @Ken,
      I think they are willing to give up freedom for perfection, or what is claimed as perfection. Which seems to go against God's whole point of granting us free will supposedly.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Ken

      “Democracy isn't perfect, but it is the best system of rule out there.”

      I think it depends what you mean by “out there”. I meant “among all possible systems of government” and I would still argue that we just don’t know. If by “out there” one means currently existing, I would have to agree that for now it appears to usually be best.

      “What amazes me is that millions of supposedly patriotic Christian Americans just can't wait for King Jesus to show up, end all democratic government on the planet, and rule us all under his dictatorship. So much for the "Land of the Free" if that ever happens, eh?”

      I guess that doesn’t surprise me that much. While democracy so far appears to be the best under normal earth conditions with known humans, a benevolent dictatorship could have advantages. So far it doesn’t look good because even the best benevolent dictators die and leave things open for what is usually worse.

      But if there were a god he/she would be eternal (by most god definitions) so if truly good, powerful and benevolent would not die and leave the people in worse hands. I think when this kind of Christians support democracy they support it as a system for humans when they must be governed by other humans, so I don’t see them as contradicting themselves.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II,

      "I think they are willing to give up freedom for perfection, or what is claimed as perfection. Which seems to go against God's whole point of granting us free will supposedly."

      OK, this one I'm just guessing on, but I suspect the free will business may, like democracy, just be a thing for earth times. As I've said many times here, I think the Christian vision of and dependency on "free will" is one of its biggest flaws, but if you take it as a premise the rest of the heavenly governance bit could still make sense.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • ME II

      @Saraswati,
      "OK, this one I'm just guessing on, but I suspect the free will business may, like democracy, just be a thing for earth times."

      I don't speak for Christians, obviously, but wouldn't it be defeating the whole point of free will on Earth, if it was just thrown out in Heaven? In other worlds, if the point of free will is to have people that choose, only to strip that choice from them in Heaven, then why not just skip the whole Earth phase and just not allow choice in the first place?

      I sure the answer is in praying... cause it certainly isn't in thinking.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  7. clarity

    The poster Paul earlier asked what kind of evidence would be sufficient for proving the historical Jesus that is reflected as the Christ character in the Bible.

    Reasonable evidence would certainly have to be something beyond what has been demonstrated so far. Anonymously written gospels don't help. When the historical writings ABOUT the anonymously-written gospels appear to have been tampered with, THAT certainly doesn't help solidify anything about the Christian claim. When early Christian apologists themselves charged that the devil had disseminated earlier fake stories before the "real" gospels ('diabolical mimicry'), THAT doesn't help validate the Christian claim either. It just makes things smell very, very fishy.

    March 18, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Francisco

      why didn't Jesus if he existed write his own scripture? It seems to me if you came here to give the word of god why tell someone who would tell someone else to write scripture. In a Court of law there is a stable datum. If it doesn't make sense it's probably not true.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Bob

      Great point, Francisco.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Who cares if Jesus was historically a real person. The question is "was he god"?

      Nothing he said or did can reasonably lead one to think he was.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • Superman

      Funny how you atheists will believe everything written in textbooks, but when someone mentions God, you cover your ears, close your eyes, and scream "not true" like bratty little children.

      And no, Jesus came to fulfill the word of God. It was left for others to spread the word of God to others. And you atheists claim us Christians are the ones with simple minds.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Superman,

      Got proof?

      Textbooks have them.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • Wally

      Not only did Jesus not write the information; he also did not tell anyone else to. Nor did he say that he was starting a new religion, nor did he say that it applied to anyone but Jews. Indeed, he expected you to leave your family, sell everything and give away the money, and join him for the last few years until the end times came. He didn't put anything in writing or create a church because he "knew" it would all be over in the lifetime of some listening.

      When telling them about the end, he instructs them to run up to the hills around judea – not real good advice for an apocalypse a few millenia later.

      Jesus was a David Koresh, a Jim Jones. The end did not come when he said it would, prayer does not get mountains to throw themselves into the sea like he said. Face it: gods can't be wrong and he was really wrong more than once on key issues. Jesus was not a god but a local yokel.

      The whole resurrection and "died for your sins" stuff was invented afterwards, most likely by Paul, to deal with the reality that a "god" died – oops, gods don't do that – and that he died being nailed to a tree, which the OT say means the accused was definitely guilty.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Austin

      What a blatant lie about dying for sins being made up later. What an absolute demonic lie. I have experienced spiritual revelation and your as.sertioms are probably the wors attempt ever at denying the resurrection. If you had any clu, that the entire old testament is a prophecy about the messiah you never would have said something so hopeful that there is no devil. Wrong. He is risen and I have personal evidence and proof.

      Show resourcesAdd parallel
      Isaiah 53
      New International Version (NIV)
      53 Who has believed our message
          and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
      2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
          and like a root out of dry ground.
      He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
          nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
      3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
          a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
      Like one from whom people hide their faces
          he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
      4 Surely he took up our pain
          and bore our suffering,
      yet we considered him punished by God,
          stricken by him, and afflicted.
      5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
          he was crushed for our iniquities;
      the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
          and by his wounds we are healed.
      6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
          each of us has turned to our own way;
      and the Lord has laid on him
          the iniquity of us all.
      7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
          yet he did not open his mouth;
      he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
          and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
          so he did not open his mouth.
      8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
          Yet who of his generation protested?
      For he was cut off from the land of the living;
          for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
      9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
          and with the rich in his death,
      though he had done no violence,
          nor was any deceit in his mouth.
      10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
          and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
      he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
          and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
      11 After he has suffered,
          he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
      by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
          and he will bear their iniquities.
      12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
          and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
      because he poured out his life unto death,
          and was numbered with the transgressors.
      For he bore the sin of many,
          and made intercession for the transgressors.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • Wally

      "According to modern scholarship, the suffering servant described in Isaiah chapter 53 is actually the Jewish people. According to some, the rabbinic response, e.g., Rashi and Maimonides, is that although the suffering servant passage clearly is prophetic and even if Psalm 22 is prophetic, the Messiah has not come yet, therefore, the passages could not possibly be talking about Jesus."

      March 18, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • Austin

      I have stumbled upon a spiritual gift through my struggle with the name of Jesus, I have foun God. The Holy spirit has revealed himself to me through His word. And I will admit that these revelations were all bearing the truth if the old testament passages to me through visions before I had read the passages, but I was already a Christian. So if the spirit of God is bearing the truth to me through sovereign and genius communication, than I am sticking by the literal interpretation of the bible. The old testament lends plenty of support , as does Christ l that the suffering servant is talking exactly about Christ who was crucified on Nisan 14 Passover

      March 18, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • Austin

      Sorry for the messy typing.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • Wally

      You think you have special insights from visions? That is your support? I'll go with the scolars.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:07 am |
    • End Religion

      austin, if your visions had been truthful you would know Wally is correct.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Ken

      Austin
      The "Suffering Servant" refers to the Nation of Israel, as an earlier chapter of Isaiah clearly points out. The Jews were looking for a pragmatic Messiah, just a guy who would bring peace to Israel and usher in a new golden age for them, all within his lifetime. Jesus fails as the expected Jewish messiah. It may not be his fault, but his coming actually ushered in the worse persecution that Jewish people ever experienced.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Truth

      Some of the Jews were wrong. They had a different idea from God about what kind of messiah they needed.

      God gave them what they needed. But they didn't get what they wanted.

      God's ways are better than some of those Jews' ways.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Austins' proof = dead cat in front of his house.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  8. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some 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 Lutheran CMS 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 18, 2013 at 12:22 am |
  9. Mass D (report)

    Are we allowed to test God? Elijah didn't have a problem with it apparently...

    20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

    Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

    25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” 40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there." 1 Kings 18:20-40

    Why exactly did it work then but not today? Was God more concerned with proving himself to a relatively small tribe? Or was Elijah playing to the crowd and that wasn't really water that soaked the logs? We'll never know but one thing is for sure, the bible presents Elijah as a prophet of the true God and he was allowed to test God, but now we are told testing God is wrong, but I believe that's only because except for Elijah, he's never answered another request.
    =============

    March 18, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Francisco

      why are you quoting scripture? This is supposed to be a discussion group.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • clarity

      There are paragraphs there where Mass D is discussion the referenced scripture.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • clarity

      Excuse me, I mean to say where Mass D "is discussing". Actually, it could have been marked differently. I will sometimes myself use italics, but some people don't like reading large amounts of italicized text. In any event, I thnk Mass D's 1st sentence and then last paragraph are his questions/reflections on the passages.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Mass Debater

      I concur. Thanks for the Clarity 🙂

      March 18, 2013 at 2:44 am |
  10. Reality

    Francis I has only one challenge which he will not be able to overcome:

    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

    Added details available.

    March 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • AB

      He may have more challenges than that. I still haven't gotten anything firm on if he can BBQ.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Meatwad

      I heard good old Francis is a vegetarian ya'll. I think that's true too.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Yuppers

      I think we'll eventually find that he likes meat in the end.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  11. Atheist, me?

    When men love their neighbor as themselves they think better. That will mean 99% of posts here won't occur.

    March 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • AB

      Too easy.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Mirror Mirror

      Yeah, I thought about pointing out the obvious hypocrisy too, but it's just too easy.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Ah too easy for men to love each other as themselves says one. Then why can't u just do it?
      Then another says its hypocrisy to do it or even suggest it. So has putting others first become a bad thing?
      I don't care whether u r this or that but if the Captcha here was right then u r humans not robots.
      Hence loving your neighbor as yourself is your way to self esteem and true love.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Mirror Mirror

      The hypocrisy is that your post is totally the opposite of love thy neighbor. I'm surprised you needed that shown to you.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Mirror
      I don't know about you but where I'm from when someone advises you to do something which will enhance u then he loves u as himself.
      If I say what you want to hear when that is not what you need to hear then I love myself only.
      Learn to love others as yourself. Your self essteem will grow and ur relationships with others too.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:51 am |
    • WASP

      @atheist, me?: "but where I'm from when someone advises you to do something which will enhance u then he loves u as himself."

      well in the nature of brotherly love, i advise you to start with basic biology along with world history. this will give you the groundwork to build knowledge of the real world on. the "biblical history" of this world is far to biased toward the churches view of thinigs, a more liberal and logical look at history and how life is would help you break free of delusions taught to you by a biased source as the church. 🙂

      hey it's all in loving you as i do myself. XD

      March 18, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Atheist, me?

      "I don't know about you but where I'm from when someone advises you to do something which will enhance u then he loves u as himself."

      What you're really saying here I think is that when anyone does anything well intentioned than he loves you as himself. When you give advice you are only guessing, or making an educated assumption, that it will help the other person. But you don't know, so it is the intention that you are looking at. I don't disagree that good intentions are morally "good" but I think this is a bit of an oversimplification and does not imply necessarily that one loves (or respects) another equally to self.

      One problem with this is that the "good intentions" line has been used to defend a lot of behaviors, including beating one's children for their own good. While it is claimed in these instances that one would want the same treatment for oneself, it is very difficult to prove. This is more a practical than theoretical objection however.

      Another issue, though, it that simply helping someone (or trying to help them) is not the same as loving them as yourself. You must be willing to offer that help even at your own expense, since you value yourself no more than the other person. Loving another as yourself in its true form means that you are willing to die for a stranger (or at the very least for two strangers, or a similar stranger likely to outlive you).

      March 18, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      The Golden Rule is this
      "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
      The Second Greatest Commandment which you as a self proclaimed theological luminary of our generation made the Great Commandment shows how skin deep your knowledge is.
      If only you were spiritual rather than religious you could say more with fewer words.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  12. Sam Yaza

    i wonder if this pope will finally denounce Charlemagne, and Patric; for there use of genocide.

    March 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • AB

      No but he will denounce Charmaine and Patricia for their use of spermicide.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  13. AB

    Look, I know it seems easy enough. Heat up some butter in a pan, salt and pepper, 3 and half minutes a side but there is just more to it than that. I lot more.

    March 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Billy

      Just make sure you remove his pointy hat first.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • AB

      How would you know he was the chef without the hat?

      March 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Billy

      Oh – lol – I thought you were roasting him. I mean you're talking Argentine beef now -that's supposed to be the good stuff.

      March 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • AB

      Well, I mean.....it was more of an analagy really but I guess if you want.....

      March 18, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  14. Foundation

    If the Church remains true to the teachings of the word of God, they will never fail. A house built on solid foundation, the rock,will remain strong!

    March 17, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • AB

      Can you cook a steak medium rare correctly?

      March 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Jim

      Nicely written article, lays down the problems for the church. The Pope has a tough task ahead of him. He needs wisdom from above to deal with these challenges.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • AB

      Jim, if he needs wisdom from above, they have not chosen wisely.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Jim

      Church leaders rely on wisdom from above. Their strength comes from above. In fact, mortals rely on wisdom from God. Don't you?

      March 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      *Please pay no attention to the foundation of molesting children.*

      March 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • End Religion

      Unfortunately this "solid foundation" is a crazed medieval prophet who to this day hasn't been shown to have actually performed a single miracle. This is more a foundation of quicksand, and it shows. The church is sinking fast!

      March 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • AB

      JIm, if wisdom from above will help the pope cook a piece of meat correctly I am all for it! Now, as far as I know via direct observation, there is no heaven above us. Where is it then? Whithin us? If that is true, who needs a guy in a funny hat?

      March 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Francisco

      I think you better read the Bible again foundation. There are a lot of inconsistencies. Especially with the advent of DNA and the archeology findings. Darwin's theory of evolution. All that stuff. Put a couple of days aside and do a some research.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      The problem here is that the Bible isn't about DNA or Archeology Francisco.
      It is Applied Human Psycology and it works too. It works better than therapists or Oprah

      March 18, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • Wally

      No, the Bible, like many ancient religious texts, had a number of roles, none of which included a field of study invented 1850 years later. It gave explanations of where everything comes from, as do many other religions texts, it gave explanations of natural phenomenon, as did the texts of many other religions, and it set rules of conduct, yes, as all those other religious scriptures did.

      Psychology is actually strangely absent in the bible: you get no picture of Noah's thought and motivations, just very external descriptions of what he did. Such is true for almost everyone described – the character development is virtually non-existent. It makes it hard to care about most biblical characters, for they are so linear and undeveloped. This is in stark contrast to Greek works such as The Iliad and Oedipus Tyrranus, where the "psychology" is well developed. Homer's Achilles is complex and conflicted – you can understand him from the inside. Jesus has stunningly little depth of character. He's poorly written, narrow, and wooden, and he's the best developed character in the Bible.

      So no, the Bible isn't some "Applied Human Psychology" text. It's barely psychological at all. And it's discussions of natural origins and phenomenon are just plain wrong, and it's set of rules are primitive, arbitrary and crude.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:40 am |
    • Austin

      2 Peter

      3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

      5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

      Here is a prophecy that in the end times, the theory of uniformitarianism would deny the flood. Lyell and Hutton were forecasted by Peter. So why did Peter not get credit for the theory of uniformitarianism?

      So much. For you field study on the physical realm

      I have experienced the revealing holy spirit

      Mark 16:20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

      John 15:26-27
      New International Version (NIV)
      The Work of the Holy Spirit

      26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • Wally

      I don't read cut and paste quotes, especially not the cut and paste quotes of a book I don't believe. If you have something to say, have the integrity to say it in your own words. Otherwise I will not bother with you.

      There's no point talking to parrots.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • Professor Marvel

      Austin:

      "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Great and Powerful Oz speaks."

      March 18, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • Austin

      Peter predicted the theory of uniformitarianism would deny the flood.

      He predicted the theory of uniformitarianism and spelled out what it was.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • Wally

      The flood is denied by the complete lack of evidence that there was such a flood, by the impossibility of building a seaworthy 440 foot boat out of wood, the impossibility of getting all those animals into that too-small-for-the-job space, the impossibility of 6 people tending the animals for 6 months and the inability to carry any where near enough supplies, of the impossibility of only two of each species resulting in a repopulation of the animal kingdom, and just so much more.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • Austin

      Took him 120 years to build it too wally.

      Have a good one bud.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • Wally

      120 years?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Austin: The flood idea has been tested on a scientific level. There is no way it could have occurred based on the previously mentioned facts and the fact that the Ark would not have floated due to the construction of it (it was impossible to have it water tight). You keep bringing up your personal experiences but in the grand scheme of it, they lack substance for the simple fact that they are your experiences and only yours. Those experiences might have some substance if they they could be tested and verified. If you think you can prove they are true contact the James Randi Foundation, they are offering a million dollars to the person who can substantiate under testing this kind of thing.
      You're entitled to your beliefs (opinions) but you are not entitled to your facts, especially since those apparent facts are baseless in reality.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:13 am |
    • Science

      Austin FACTS please answer the questions ??? Was bible around back then ??? and do you have one a Y ?

      Gravity wins no god(s} required or splat goes the fairy.

      Curtains Down for the Black Hole Firewall Paradox: Making Gravity Safe for Einstein Again

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130306084151.htm

      March 12, 2013 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |

      Science

      Hey bethany/chad cause is non casual agent religious BS

      Hey Bobie and As-stin Chad/rachel l4h fred Robert Brown loony bethany etc etc All creationists !!! CC too

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

      Peace

      March 18, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • End Religion

      Austin, did you happen to walk into a post recently? You seem more dumb today.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  15. Be honest

    Pope Francis MUST be a really excellent choice as leader of the Catholic Church otherwise there wouldn't be so much vitriol and groundless attacks on his character.

    The anti-Catholic trolls are out in force......."the Pope did nothing to free two Jesuits imprisoned ate the worst time in Argentina's history.......????" Amnesty International have RUBBISHED that but still the trolls slobber on with it! Pathetic.

    For Catholics on here, please say the rosary for the Holy Father as often as you can. It is our strongest weapon in protecting our Faith and the scourge of Satan. And the prayer to St Michael is good too. God Bless our Pope and all who support him.

    March 17, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Where are those fucking trolls? I will deal with them after I give the stupid Catholics a stern talking to.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      Catholics bullying atheists:
      http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/12/23/atheist-kids-and-bullying-just-xbox-away-god

      March 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • AB

      Holy shit ER, that is nuts. (...and the black jelly bean is "sin". precious.)

      March 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • midwest rail

      @ Be honest – that's an interesting take I'd not seen. Do you have a link to a story that shows A.I. "rubbished" the dirty war story ?

      March 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  16. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some 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 Lutheran CMS 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 8:16 pm |
    • AB

      "Celibacy is unnatural..."

      I know what you mean of course, but I would stop short of calling anything that exists unnatural. It does exist. Therefore it is natural.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Be honest

      I truly wish you could experience the peace of Christ. As for me as a Catholic being terrified into submission?...........where DO you get your ideas from? Someone else's writings? – like Paine, or Dawkins etc? Think for yourself and open your mind. YOU are taking others peoples' ideas as if they were set in stone but......that's what you're accusing eveyone else of? Right?
      I LOVE being a Catholic and my devotion to Jesus and His Mother Mary is boundless and THAT will never change.

      As a practising Catholic I say that if you want to believe that after you're dead you'll come back as a cabbage – feel free- I have no problem with that, it's your decision. Please extend the same courtesy to me; other Catholics and those of other faiths. OK? I wish you only good things and God's Blessing

      March 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      "When you believe in things that you don't understand then you suffer. Superstition ain't the way." – Stevie Wonder

      March 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • AB

      @Be honest

      Believe what you will, but you most likely did not exist before you did, and then you won't. Pretty simply really. Why all the silliness with the dresses and hats?

      March 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  17. Thinker

    “Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas . . . for it is the assertion of a universal negative.” – Charles II, Twelve Types

    March 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Ambiguous, irrelevant, and false at the same time! And achieved in so few words, too.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Actually your quote is backward. Theism promotes the universal negative (that which cannot be proven or disproven). What atheism is most ardently against IS in fact universal negatives. We require evidence before belief. I know it's confusing, but you'll get the hang of it if you cease your 1-sided perspective.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • 101N

      Chesterton is genius!

      March 18, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  18. Thinker

    “Progress is Providence without God. That is, it is a theory that everything has always perpetually gone right by accident. It is a sort of atheistic optimism, based on an everlasting coincidence far more miraculous than a miracle.” – Wells and the World State,

    March 17, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      Leave it to a religious person to usurp a term that doesn't apply to them then redefine it.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "everything has always perpetually gone right by accident."

      I sincerely wish that were true.I really, truly, fervently wish it were true. Yet it is not. You filthy theists tell us that there is a jolly old man in the sky who wants everything to go right, yet it has not.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Jim

      Never realized that atheists are optimistic. Well, one would qualify that as a 'chancy' optimism.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Observation

      Christians rely on God; atheists rely on Chance.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      All atheists "rely on chance"? Says who? How many do you know?

      All Christians "rely on God"? So they never call a doctor when they're sick? Never use a seat belt in the car? Don't have health insurance?

      Really, honey, generalizations like that are silly.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Observation

      For a Christian, accountability, responsibility and reliance on God go together.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Christians don't have a corner on the market of ethical, moral, or responsible behavior. Atheists and agnostics just don't need a threatening daddy to keep them on the straight and narrow, dear.

      March 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, and brainiac? "Chance" isn't capitalized unless it's at the beginning of a sentence or someone's name.

      Try to get a clue.

      March 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  19. Skorpio

    There's a global CHRISTOPHOBIA and the Catholic Church is the main target because is the most visible and militant. I hope Pope Francis has the strength and courage to MAINTAIN Jesus' principles and Catholic dogmas, no matter how many people want to divide the church.

    March 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Dean

      The Catholic church is on its way to oblivion, and it deserves to be. Get used to reality.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Be honest

      Dean – Jesus said: "The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church....." That's good enough for me.

      Skorpio – You are absolutely right. God Bless you my friend.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      Bye bye religion!

      March 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  20. Thinker

    “It is assumed that the sceptic has no bias; whereas he has a very obvious bias in favour of scepticism.” – Chesterton

    March 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Be honest

      Thinker – I LIKE that! GK Chesterton was a very clever man and a thinker.

      March 17, 2013 at 8:48 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.