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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. Goranesh

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    March 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      And don't forget to check out Jesus too.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  2. Lollapalooza

    The Pope's biggest challenge is to show that his God exists but the others like Allah and the Hindu gods don't. They all answer prayers and perform miracles.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  3. creight frazee

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    March 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  4. kevobx

    Satan is pimping his idol worshippers, by giving them exactly what they truly desire first in their heart. (Psalm 75:10)

    March 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • End Religion

      how's that straight jacket fitting? A little snug? Good....

      March 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Austin

      he is a evil pimp. ill give kevobx a talley mark.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  5. kevobx

    When you read the Bible, let God be the I, my and we in the scriptures. Thou is the white man. Thee is the black man. The world is full of cowards, who love their things more than the word of God and they hate the word of the Lord (Proverbs 6:16) *Psalm 81:15 The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him:

    March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      'You' are a loon.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  6. kevobx

    Does the eagle represent America, every man to his quarter. As far as Churchill, America married themselves into the British empire. Esau is dukes and lords also. *Exodus 15:15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shalt melt away. *Psalm 83:6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab; and the Hagarenes; *Psalm 105:23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. (Look what happens to them all *Deuteronomy 28:68*) (Psalm 78:1-72 explains us, but the world needs a new heart read it. They are all afraid of grace and truth.)

    March 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Austin

      that makes perfect sense kevobx , that was the history of this country. America marrying britian. and so all white people are Esau. good job. you should be proud.

      I pray, that the Lord will see what you are up to.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Austin

      Kevobx, you are a Louis Farakahaun follower huh? I got you figured out.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  7. Annrafnk

    He should make all the clergy wear peasant type clothes, sell all the gold they have, feed the poor, cloth the poor, shelter the poor. Just what Jesus told them to do. Instead they live like Pharisees.

    March 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Catholic priests live roughly the same as other liberal arts grads. Lowish pay, but descent benefits.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  8. Atheist, me?

    Do you know that there were four statues of Angels and twelve bronze oxen all in the Jewish Temple of YHWH. It pays to know that it is not the statues per se but the person who worships them. Arabs n other Muslims still put on khol to ward off the evil eye and consult mefiums but call us idolators. Most of you have made the Quran a fetish and therefore will not read it in a language you understand.

    March 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  9. { ! }

    (From a quote below). The pope talked about demonic worldliness.
    "The too credulous are often deceived...lunatics often declare themselves to be possessed and tormented by the devil; and these people nevertheless are far more in need of a doctor than an exorcist."
    - Acts of the Synod of Rheims, 1583

    The Roman Catholic church understood the difference between demonic influence and psychosis about 273 years before the birth of Sigmund Freud.

    March 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So?

      What do you think they did with those who were mentally ill?

      March 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "The Roman Catholic church understood the difference between demonic influence and psychosis about 273 years before the birth of Sigmund Freud."

      Ummmm, no it didn't. Demonic influence has never been established as a real condition, therefore the Catholic church itself disseminates psychosis.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • { ! }

      @The Real Tom "What do you think they did with those who were mentally ill?" The church might have turned them over to the Inquisition, which in point of fact, was operated by the state. But can you offer some data on the question?

      March 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Only if you can tell me what point you're attempting to make.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Austin

    *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.

    kevobx, if you are implying that ephriam is lost (and will be found) and that Jacob, spiritual israel is "colored", then i will not argue with that. you might be right. but gentiles are not any different than spiritual israel in redemption. First for the Jew, then for the gentile. Our savior is a redeemer. And he came to save the sick, and not the righteouss. Those who believe on the name of Jesus shall be saved. This does not come down to skin color. And further more, my opinion is that jacobs descendants would be middle eastern dark, and that Adam was probably black if not dark. if you can take scripture and show that all of jacobs descendants were of color, then i stand behind you with pride. Because I know that God loves everyone , and that He judges the heart. Clearly spiritual Israel, the seed of Abraham, has a future gathering from the descendants of Israel/Jacob. but TODAY, spiritual israel refers to Jew and Gentiles, and the entire world of Holy Spirit saved individuals. not a denomination, not an ethnicity, not a church, but individuals who are saved.

    March 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Adam never existed, and god didn't create the universe in six days.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Our savior is a redeemer. And he came to save the sick, and not the righteouss. Those who believe on the name of Jesus shall be saved"

      "Love me or burn"

      Is not a moral position.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      Ironic that people want to spend eternity with a being from whom they have to be saved.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hey sam, earnest question; Is that really your understanding of eternal life and damnation or are you simply reshilling something I see you post about once a week?

      The reason I ask is because if that is what you actually believe to be the dynamic, you are horribly confused. Otherwise, you're at best being satirical, at worse lying.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      i am not lying, bill. in order for it to be a lie, i would have to know otherwise. i am just commenting on what believers say. as far as me being horribly confused, how would you know? have you been there? if not, with what authority do you speak? the god that believers often describe is a vindictive pr1ck. why anyone would desire eternity with that being is beyond me.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      and the only reason you see it reposted is no one ever answers the question. do you care to answer it?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sure, I'll give it a go. You present your question as genuine so I presume you want a real answer.

      Regardless of how you may have interpreted what you claim others have said, God, as close and as generally as we may describe Him, is the source of love and life. When you ascribe human characteristics to HIm, you are not talking about God, you are talking about a perversion of your or someone else's image of Him. To spend eternity with God, is to spend eternity with the source and the very being of love and life. I'm using the words love and life as poor descriptors for all the language that has been used to describe eternal bliss, happiness, nirvana, peace and healing; you choose the adjective. We are not condemned to hell by God but by our own rejection of relationship with Him. To reject God (insert your adjective), is to choose eternity without Him. It is too choose an eternity with our self. Not ourselves as in alone but our selfs as in our limited ability to live and to love. Our inability to achieve bliss on our own. Our impermanence. That, we describe as hell.

      It is a straw man argument to quote "Love God or go to hell" That is a misrepresentation of the dynamic. A mis-characterization of eternal life and an incorrect description of the state of being we call hell.

      So this also answers the question you often pose about reconciling free will with determinism. It is God's will that you choose to be happy, joyous and free but apart from Him, it is not possible. he grants you the choice, because to coerce you would be false, a lie, a travesty. You must have the freedom to reject love, life and peace if the acceptance of it is to be genuine.

      I suspect you know most of these arguments and will proceed to disassemble them to perpetuate your stance but you posted as if your genuine belief is that God is pointing a gun at your head screaming "LOVE ME" and that is simply not the case. He is merely inviting you to turn from hatred and bitterness and death (hell) and choose life.

      Your choice.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      "When you ascribe human characteristics to HIm, you are not talking about God, you are talking about a perversion of your or someone else's image of Him"

      Like love, or jealous, or eternal bliss?

      I do not believe that you have not read the "repent or burn" lines on here from the likes of Gopher and others

      March 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      it is not like god is pointing a gun at people's heads. it is more like a wiseguy going up to a person, saying "it would sure be a shame if SOMETHING HAPPENED to you"

      pointing a gun is to honest

      March 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      to = too

      March 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "We are not condemned to hell by God but by our own rejection of relationship with Him."

      Bill,

      In order to reject god, one would have to believe god was real in the first place. If god was an objectively true and real your essay might make some sense. God and specifically your version of god is not objectively true and therefore those who do not believe are not "rejecting" anything. The most common rebuttal to this is that somehow god makes himeself known to all, of course there is no objective proof of that either. this being the case if god removes individuals from his presence it is his doing alone and not the responsibility of the individual. If you have a different take, have a go at that.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  11. Atheist, me?

    Well at some point in time Cain, Ephraim, Hispanics had a white father. Only the whites will only consider you white if u r three generations pure. I love them as myself nonetheless. Hope progress comes to you.

    March 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  12. Jesus

    4. Pedophile priests
    3. Protecting pedophile priests
    2. Get better at noticing the warning signs of pedophile priests so they can minimize the cleanup after the shit hits the fan.
    1. Hushing victims of pedophile priests

    March 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Austin

    The pope talked about demonic worldliness.
    and testifying about the cross and crucifixion.
    Good man.
    He is risen.

    March 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Damocles

      Right. If the homeless guy on the corner starts raving about demons, they'd lock him up, put a funny hat on him and he's suddenly a world leader.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There's a big difference between a tin foil hat and a golden one. 😉

      March 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Damocles

      Hell why stop at gold? Put a platinum hat on him, then he's really, really telling the truth.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What if it's a hat made in a triangular shape and constructed of hair?

      March 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Damocles

      Oh, yes, hair hats trump platinum!

      March 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      How 'bout one made from a dead cat?

      Oh, wait. Donald Trump has that one.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Akira

      I thought Donald's pelt was made from a fox, it being orange and all. Could be a ginger tabby, though.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • The real Tom

      This is a possibility I had not considered.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      If the Pope is risen, it is likely because some precocious alterboy flittered in front of him

      March 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  14. kevobx

    Mankind and his ratings of labels, idolatry is evil. Have you noticed, the entire world is named after saints, the people, places and things. *Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. *Nehemiah 9:14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

    March 18, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • meifumado

      Now try to say something that makes sense.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • sam stone

      Good luck with that

      March 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Austin

      so is naming everything after saints idolatry? is that what you are saying?
      what do you think kev?

      March 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Most Christians are Idolators

      “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Deut 5: 8-10

      I see Christians with their carved images all the time, Jesus, Mary, the Saints, all likenesses of things on Earth. As for naming things after the Saints I have no doubt that kind of veneration would also be frowned upon by the jealous God of the Hebrews.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  15. Science is Fun

    Mars Evolution: Could Life Have Appeared On Red Planet Before Earth?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/mars-evolution-life-before-earth_n_2867246.html?utm_hp_ref=science

    March 18, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • { ! }

      Some scientists speculate that about 70 million tons of earth soil are present on Mars. They speculate that terrific volcanic explosions on earth placed it on Mars. Any evidence of life found on Mars may have originated on earth.

      March 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  16. kevobx

    The colored people, see the Esau red in them, the Cain followers of Baal. Hispanics are too ashamed to be called Puerto Ricans, their biblical name is Ephraim. Hispanics think they are white! You are what your father is. A Mexican and a Cuban are not hispanic people ask them. Reading Revelation 7 Ephraim is missing & Dan the serpent by the way. Two-thirds of the world is with the Pope, and the others worship other gods that cannot save. Now there remains the 144,000 who worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (Isaiah 45:20)

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

      This guy either has a frontal lobe injury or is trying to pull your leg...i'd guess the latter.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • The real Tom

      Comma key broken again, dolt?

      You're another version of herbie. No brains, no talent, just raw sewage.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Hard to tell for sure, I have heard and seen completely serious people spout the same type of non-sense. They are out there.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Austin

      kevbox, do you think eprhiam is cursed?
      lost is differnt than missing. are the missing to be found?
      is the pope good or bad?

      March 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Hispanic is a confusing term as it includes the Europeans and the native population and the resulting mixture. When the bible was written the native Americans were unknown so the only reference could be to the Europeans who are white.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      You guys are too worried about your skin over there.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  17. Science is Fun

    Richard Feynman Experiment Recreated, 'Confirms Quantum Mechanics,' Physicist Says

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/physicist-richard-feynman-thought-experiment_n_2883913.html?utm_hp_ref=science

    March 18, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Science is Fun

      Richard Feynman on God

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YltEym9H0x4

      March 18, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  18. End Religion

    One of the Pope's most immediate challenges is to work on some of the Belief Blog abuse issues. There is no higher calling in the church.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Akira

      Lol.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  19. Universe

    God in Quran says, (Islamic scripture)

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    ‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!” [5:75]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.” [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.”[22:74]

    “If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:116]

    “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]

    “O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued.” [22:73]

    “God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Saraswati

      Better yet, just read the Quran. It cleared up any misconceptions I had about Islam being a peaceful or rational religion.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Reality

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

      o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
      o
      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
      The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

      25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

      (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

      26 ) September 12, 2012
      U.S. AMBASSADOR KILLED
      Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

      March 18, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  20. 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 10:41 am |
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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.