June 19th, 2013
03:28 PM ET

How the 'Francis effect' could rescue the church

Opinion by John Gehring, special to CNN

Can Pope Francis save the Catholic Church?

The question is part hyperbole, of course, but perhaps a fitting way to ponder what some are now calling the “Francis effect.”

At a time when nearly 1 in 10 Americans are former Catholics, Pope Francis is using a humble style to set a new direction for the church that could reinvigorate the multitude, many of whom are weary of culture-war Christianity.

While a rising number of young Americans no longer identify with a particular religion, many seekers still hunger for moral clarity and prophetic voices that challenge the shallow materialism and spiritual alienation of our fractured culture.

During his first 100 days, Pope Francis has emphasized the Gospel’s radical and still relevant messages of peace, compassion and justice for the poor. He also just might break through to reach the religiously disaffected where others have failed.

READ MORE: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

Catholicism is not an institutional bureaucracy, but “a love story,” Pope Francis said recently.

He criticizes a “self-referential” church that becomes spiritually “sick” when it hunkers down and fails to look outside its gilded cathedrals.

He has little patience for pastors who act like religious border guards by making it harder for lapsed Catholics to return to the faith and receive the sacraments.

Francis decries the "cult of money" and the "dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal."

He even gently chided Jesus' first disciples for being a “bit intolerant, closed in the idea of possessing the truth.”

You can almost hear the ice cracking around a generation of disillusioned Christians who have a hard time finding Jesus frozen under ostentatious ecclesial trappings and hypocritical moralizing.

Just three months on the job, Francis’ servant leadership and focus on a “church of the poor” are drawing rave reviews, and it’s not just Catholics swooning.

“Seldom has a religious leader been embraced so warmly across the Christian world, including by many evangelicals,” Timothy George, the dean of Beeson Divinity School wrote last week in a Christianity Today op-ed entitled “Our Francis, Too.”

Jewish leaders also praise the new pope, who emphasized interfaith dialogue when he was still a bus-riding cardinal in Buenos Aires. On his first day as pope, Francis wrote to the chief rabbi of Rome expressing his hope for a “spirit of renewed collaboration.”

Atheists are even getting in on the act. Henrik Hertzberg, a writer for The New Yorker magazine who is critical of institutional religion, applauded the pope for his “kindness, tolerance, humanity, and common sense.”

READ MORE: Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

Surely, this papal honeymoon will end, but these are early signs that something new is stirring in the air.

Pope Francis seems determined to live up to his namesake. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century saint who gave away his hefty inheritance and sparked a profound movement of spiritual reform, famously said “preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words.”

Pope Francis, who refused to move into the lavish papal apartments inside the Apostolic Palace, understands that symbols convey substance.

As the first Jesuit pope, Francis has taken a vow of poverty. He ditched the silk, fur-trimmed cape favored by Pope Benedict XVI for a simple white cassock. Golden throne? Francis prefers a wooden chair. The red carpet laid out in the Vatican’s Hall of the Throne has been rolled up.

"The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love,” Francis has tweeted.

All of these aesthetic changes signify deeper meaning, especially in a church where rituals and images seek to convey transcendent truths.

The pope’s toned-down style and pastoral touch are also a more fitting brand for a church built on the teachings of an itinerant preacher who in the Gospel says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”

If the Catholic Church hopes to inspire lapsed Catholics and others to embrace the faith with renewed vigor, it will require a radical return to the essence of Christianity. Gospel means “good news.” A smiling, good-humored pope stands in stark contrast to those dour-faced religious leaders who act as gloomy scolds and spy threats around every corner.

Pope Francis surely can’t turnaround the barque of Peter alone, but against stiff winds he is steering in the right direction.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gehring.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Opinion • Pope Francis

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. Colin

    The only thing that stops their numbers from being in absolute free fall in the USA is immigration form heavily Catholic Latin America.

    For every mind we change the Christian sky-fairy gets more and more irrelevant. The shining light of atheism and freethought continues its slow, but inexorable ascent up the ladder of religious affiliations in the USA. One day soon, we will stand on the top rung, as the Christian, Islamic and Jewish sky-god is seen as no more relevant to peoples' lives than the gods, ghosts and goblins of centuries gone by.

    Every mind changed, every eye opened before they pass the meme to their children is a victory.

    June 20, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • lol??

      Plenty of gubmint usurpers, alright. Ain't freedom wunnerful?,

      June 20, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Bob

      Thanks for that, Colin. I feel more optimistic now, and the effort to ensure that reason triumphs over religious superstitions must continue.

      June 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • jkb1977

      Inexorable is too strong of a word. It's definitely a trend, but I think that demographics (both in the sense of Catholic Latino population growth and the fact that Christians in general have more kids than atheists do) could reverse it.

      June 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Alias

    If the only reason people were leaving the church had been the pope, then the new pope could solve the problem and save the church.
    However, The best your new pope can do is to slow the exodus from the pews.

    June 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • lol??

      Any Christian that wants to survive the coming slaughter better get out of ANY GUBMINT CHURCH........... 70 AD all over again. Too bad they're all leavened.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Alias

      Gubmint church?

      We don't see the world the same way.
      (that's my polite way of saying you are insane.)

      June 20, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      ya ya ya. You idiots have been saying that for 2000 years now. Get off the pot or sh1t already.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  3. Agnostickids

    Em...so has anybody with a mind wondered, after reading this article, why the Catholic Church needs to be saved at all? I mean, it's supposed to be of God right? Why isn't God saving the Catholic Church? Why would he have let it fall apart in the first place? Why would he have let all those priest molest children? Where has God been????

    June 20, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • sam stone

      for that matter, what is the need for collection plates? doesn't god provide?

      June 20, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Alias

      I'm prety sure that anyone with a mind asked that question before they read this article.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      If the love of money is the root of all evil then why does the church always ask for money?

      June 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  4. catholic engineer

    "...many seekers still hunger for moral clarity and prophetic voices that challenge the shallow materialism and spiritual alienation of our fractured culture." For at least five decades, voices have been clammering that the church should become "relevant" (= pander to the latest cultural taste). But the church refused. For the last half century at least, popular culture has been turning out large numbers of tired refugees. Had the church caved in, these refugees would have no place to go. Was it Bishop Fulton Sheen who said, "Man does not have the strength to move the tombstone he has made for himself." ?

    June 20, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • sam stone

      man does have the strength to kill the god he made himself

      June 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • lol??

      There are no seekers amongst the dead.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Yeah all those pedophiles ... they really refused to give in.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • mary

      cathoholic "engineer", frankly, what any bishop said about his own special god scam should be discarded. Time to toss out the bastards. Make them do real work for a living instead of peddling their ponzi schemes.

      June 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • The Bad Professor

      Engineer, have you ever actually opened and read that book you so feverishly defend with psuedointellectualism?

      June 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  5. ME II

    I have heard that dying people often become more active, coherent, and responsive, just before the end of life.

    June 20, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • lol??

      You got a lot of walking dead on ye ol' planet. Better get crackin'.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • ME II



      June 20, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • lol??

      C'mon ME II, quit playin' dumb. You know you are a game addict of Zombies vs. Unicorns, the false dichotomy. Denial is bad.


      June 20, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Psst...

      Lol?? is in denial that he's insane.

      June 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • jkb1977

      You are aware that Christianity (along with Islam and Judaism) has actually experienced a net gain in adherents over the last twenty years? The west is secularizing, but the former USSR and current-day China are embracing religion.

      June 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  6. dzerres

    Won't much difference – the tide is going out and dragging this crowd with it. It will be the church of the poor because the only converts they are getting are in the 3rd world countries. The West is basically done with the Catholic Church and religion in general.

    June 20, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Rishkin

      Have you noticed that the U.S. is a very religious country and one of the worlds most lively. European countries have abandoned religion (largely) and become mediocre.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      mediocre ?
      obviously you have not noticed the education systems. Health care is as good or better there than the US, AND it's for everyone.

      June 20, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  7. lol??

    The USA don't do none of that no gud stinkin' discriminatin'. They elected the Catholic Socie Dynasty of Cameloot and other assorted bullies. Kings and gubmint gods be coool.

    June 20, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      lollygag: Are you off your meds again? Crawl back to your cave and take an English course.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  8. JMEF

    Response to Bill Deacon
    The juvenile group mentality of atheists is a really interesting sociological phenomena. So I guess you skip over most of the posts atheists and only pick out those you wish to criticize or judge, how Christian of you. Oh BTW, did you miss the poste or faith, HS, lol??, pervert alert, Topher, etc., could that not be a moronic group mentality of Christians? In the eye of the beholder Bill. What about the agnostics and deists do you lump them in your group, that would be like equating Southern Baptists with Catholics?
    Those that have" ignorance of things of the church". Interesting that the things of the church are so ignorant of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Your lot talk the talk but do not walk the walk, the Princes of the Church prove that beyond ANY doubt. Francis is a breath of fresh air, an actual Christian leading the RCC.

    June 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
  9. Kimberly Vreeland

    As an athiest who was raised catholic, I have to say one thing. I REALLY love this new pope. I have such fond memories of the stories of Jesus' life. I firmly believe that while there isn't proof of "god" there is evidence that Jesus, was indeed, a radical dude that lived among us. I think it's awesome to have a pope that walks the talk.

    June 20, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • KR

      Couldn't agree more, Kimberly!

      June 20, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • lol??

      Raising is for vegetables. Training is for children. Run along and obey yer hubby.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      lollygag: Only in your delusional world are men on a higher plateau then women.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • lol??

      TP, killer mommies don't need no stinkin' help meet. The little ones they let survive they turn into gang bangers, serial killers, rapists and Supreme Court justices.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • catholic engineer

      THank you, Kimberly. Comments like yours are a breath of fresh air.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      He still thinks women should be second class. He still devalues gays.
      Keep those rose colored glasses on. You'll be fine.

      June 20, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  10. Reality

    Dear Francis I and MR. Gehring,

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    June 20, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  11. J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

    Even though I have left the Catholic Church for the Anglican (Episcopal) community, I am quite impressed with Pope Francis. After seeing Bishops and some priests live the high life, taking fancy European vacations and never paying for their own food, housing, gas etc., it is refreshing to see a humble man in the papacy. I also hope the new Pope reverses the Church's policy on birth control–throughout the world, the ban on birth control by the Catholic Church has only resulted in more human misery and suffering. Children are being brought into the world that are not wanted and that are neglected and abused.

    June 20, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Reality

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
      See also: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/opinion/bolan-se-xual-health/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

      And from:
      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about (even though is becoming a major cause of throat cancer)," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (Maybe it should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)- RCC approved
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)- RCC approved when in the form a wet dream.

      Followed by:

      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)- RCC approved
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal)- RCC approved

      and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)

      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)- RCC approved

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      June 20, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Alias

      You really need to check your facts, and proof read this post.
      It has more mistakes than any page from the bible.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Reality

      Statistics were taken from Guttmacher Insti-tute on-line studies. (e.g. , see http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html


      If you don't agree with the statistics, contact Guttmacher.

      June 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Reality

      Forgot to add this at the beginning of my first comment.

      The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      June 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  12. Joe

    I find all of the comments about Francis, and his papacy, a little premature. His aversion to wealth, and the 'trappings' of Catholicism, are all fine, but the 'trappings', rituals, sixteenth century frescos, catherdrals, are all part of the Catholic church, like it or not. The pope speaks of giving to the poor, and bemoans the capitalistic spirit, but without our economic largesse, the pope would have no funds coming into the Church to do his good works, and give to the disadvantaged, and poor. I think this initial phase of Francis' reign must be termpered a little, and Francis viewed as a newbie in his role. We will see how he progresses when it comes to the tough questions of morality and theology. Wearing a simple cassock, and living in not living in a palace does not a 'Francis' make. I'm a cradle Catholic, and have seen at least six popes that I can remember, and so far, John Paul II, was the best, and will probably be remembered as one of the best popes in papal history. We are all jumping on the Francis bandwagon too early.

    June 20, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Quite true

      Both Stalin and Hitler had excellent press at the beginnings of their administrations, and we know how those turned out.

      Manipulating the media is a relatively easy trick for an organization that is several thousand years old.

      If the revelations of wrong doing continue, at some point even our failed media will be compelled to look more closely.

      The RCC is a house of cards. One ill wind and it will collapse in on itself.

      To help its demise we need to defund it by any and all means

      Starve the beast.

      June 20, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • lol??

      DeMouth, churches are the false prophets and gubmints are the Beasts. How hard is that to understand??

      June 20, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  13. faith

    no proof yet.

    June 20, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • Austin

      I have proof. I got it from The Mediator.

      June 20, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Austin

      Are you talking about the proof of the resurrection?

      June 20, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Science

      Say Austin and faithy....again the fairy in the sky is between your ears.........to many chondrites at the swamp for me to be

      duped that Adam and his bone created US.

      Scientists Identify Emotions Based On Brain Activity

      June 19, 2013 — For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have identified which emotion a person is experiencing based on brain activity.

      June 20, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Science

      Oops source


      June 20, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • jkb1977

      Of course there's not, if you had proof it wouldn't be faith.

      June 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  14. WIlliam Demuth

    The greatest truth one can garner from this article is even the most devout Catholics realize their beloved church has hit the skids

    Can he save the church? Anything is possible but we need to consider that which is probable.

    To me it seems more likely that a Pope be indicted.

    They are glorified gangsters, with all the same arrogance, back stabbing and deviance of your garden variety mobster

    They have already begun turning on each other, and sooner or later one of them throws the whole damn mob under the bus.

    June 20, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • JMEF

      Too bad the European Court did not follow through and indict the old Rat for his cover up of child abuse in the church. Would be interesting to have him on the stand under oath and hear what he had to say. Some of the hierarchy in Australia had to admit under oath the criminal lengths they went to cover up their scandals. So much hypocrisy in the RCC. Having a practicing follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ seems to be a shock to the hierarchy, they will probably attempt to crucify Pope Francis or at least dumb down his message.

      June 20, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Or they whack him.

      Pope's death are often "inexplicable"!

      June 20, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  15. Willow

    He won't rescue it because many people do not believe in organized religion any more. To those of us who don't believe in it, it's a bit like believing in Santa when you were 4 or 5 and then finally learning that Santa wasn't really real. You're not going to convince us after that to believe in Santa anymore.

    The other problem is that the church now has a huge image problem of being intolerant to anyone who is remotely different. Fix that and you might be able to get back some of the people who do still believe in sky fairies, but don't like organized religion.

    June 20, 2013 at 7:35 am |

      The problem with attempting to gain followers that they've ostracized for hundreds of years is that they have religious texts that command them to hate people that are not like them. It's like they're trying to give out free hugs after having quite obviously moved bowel into their own clothing. Most people are going to keep their distance.

      June 20, 2013 at 7:43 am |
  16. Science

    Hey creationists .................chad too..............evolution wins not Adam and his bone,

    Scientists Date Prehistoric Bacterial Invasion Still Present in Today's Plant and Animal Cells

    June 19, 2013 — Long before Earth became lush, when life consisted of single-celled organisms afloat in a planet-wide sea, bacteria invaded the ancient ancestors of plants and animals and took up permanent residence. One bacterium eventually became the mitochondria that today power all plant and animal cells; another became the chloroplast that turns sunlight into energy in green plants.


    June 20, 2013 at 5:28 am |
  17. Eric Vest

    Anyone ever done research over the history of the Catholic Church?? Anyone at all? I'm not Catholic; but, I was raised by my mother, and father in a loving Christian family at a Baptist Church in Texas......(And, I'm sure it wouldn't make much difference to haters who are always gonna "hate").....But.....I found the whole Vestal Virgins connection to Roman Catholicism rather interesting......Especially since Vest is my family name.

    June 20, 2013 at 4:32 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      That's as poor a trolling attempt as I've seen yet today. Thanks for the laugh, Eric Vest.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:51 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      You can dance, you can dance, everybody look at your pants.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Oh but it does make a difference. It's hard to debate a topic if you are clueless about it. There's no hate involved, most are not so petty. We simply see no reason to believe in something that can't be supported with evidence.
      You admit to being Baptist...do you support their bigotry and hate towards innocent gay children?

      June 20, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Truth, don't be silly!

      The basis of Christianity is original sin.

      We are all guilty and doomed to hell at conception.

      Without that mumbo jumbo, they couldn't defraud all the little old ladies.

      June 20, 2013 at 7:34 am |

      Unfortunately, yes. I've researched it. It is far more screwed up than most people realize. Probably one of the worst religious organizations to have ever existed.

      June 20, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • lol??

      Not exactly, WIlliam Demuth. Just show you've never sinned and you'll be OK at yer judgment.

      June 20, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  18. Anon

    For anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church promulgates ignorance, ask yourselves who runs the best schools in the US are. The Catholic Church has been a beacon of light for education since the collapse of the Roman Government in the 400's AD. Catholics founded schools in the poorest areas in North America and catered to the children of dirt poor immigrants (and continue to do so in many cities). Ask non-Catholics in St. Louis where they want their kids to go to school, and the answer isn't going to be "public ones." Take a look at how many of the current Supreme Court Justices were educated in public schools, how many senators, congressmen, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and teachers owe their education to the Catholic Church and to Catholic religious orders. The Catholic Church sets the standard for educational excellence world-wide, not only in the US, but in the poorest areas in the world (Sub-Sah Africa and Latin America).

    Anyone saying something about how the "Catholic Church...makes sure those babies never grow up to be intelligent or educated" has not one iota of sense or understanding of the contributions of the Catholic Church to EVERY major profession (law, medicine, humanities), which, in their modern form, all started at Church-run universities (Oxford, Bologna, Paris) that helped bring Europe out of those "Dark Ages" you say their ideas were rooted in. Anyone who says that the current stance of the Church is to keep people ignorant should ask himself why the Catholic Church operates so many of the best schools in America if that's their goal.

    You can dislike Catholic dogma, liturgy, or organization. You can criticize its position on some social issues and mistakes it made in the past, but you can never, NEVER question the excellence or quality of the education that the Catholic Church has provided to tens of millions of children just in this past century.

    June 20, 2013 at 3:25 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      And all for only the price of a sore butthole. Lucky kids.

      June 20, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      @Anon – Nobody but you is thinking your religion is worthy of anything. Your schools are UNIVERSALLY KNOWN for being pits of twisted sadistic psychosis and raping of children. NOBODY thinks catholic schools are worthy of anything but loathing.

      June 20, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Jimmy G.

      Joking aside, I went to a Catholic school and received a more than decent education and I now have a Master's Degree. I'm unsure whether your comment is hyperbole though or whether you truly have such hatred for organized religion.

      June 20, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      You say "decent education", but I've been reading some of your posts. Your brain is skewed. Twisted.
      You might never escape the chains on your mind. Good luck. We hand out saw blades here, but you must do the work.

      June 20, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      How is my brain either skewed or twisted? Please elaborate.

      June 20, 2013 at 4:11 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Yes, you'd like me to elaborate, when you are really the best person to do that for yourself.
      I'm sorry Dave, but I can't do that for you.
      The patient must discover the truth on his or her own or they might block or engage in denial because they were indoctrinated.
      Many types of indoctrination are subtle. I see signs of it in your posts.
      You will either have faith in my words or you won't. ...

      June 20, 2013 at 4:26 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Way to escape the question. Bravo.

      Please elaborate, unless you are a disingenuous troll.

      June 20, 2013 at 4:32 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      You think I am being insincere? Yet every time I actually give details they act as a bar to further enlightenment.
      This is a human thing. It happens to me, too. Most people find it hard to accept what others say about them.
      You would scoff at my examples for I probably use different criteria to judge the relative mental state of those whose words I read on the internet. Perhaps I am wrong and you are not twisted. Perhaps you are only skewed.
      Do you deny any bias in your thoughts? It's quite natural to have a great many different types of bias hard-wired into our brains. I am not talking about that sort of bias, though. I am talking about the indoctrination you went through in a religious school. It was there. Do you deny it?

      June 20, 2013 at 4:46 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Of course it was there and of course we all have biases. But you keep jumping around the question. How is my brain either skewed or twisted?

      June 20, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Your logic is faulty and you hold positions for which there is no actual rational or logical basis concerning religious ideology as opposed to non-religious ideology in certain ways. This is indicative of religious indoctrination to some extent, in my opinion.

      Answer me this: Why should you care what I think?

      Why do you defend your catholic education when the actual honest education was not religious in nature and the religious education was nothing but an indoctrination of lies? Why defend something like that?
      Answer: because you were indoctrinated to have skewed logic where religion, not just catholicism, is concerned.

      Who cares what I think? Why should I care whether your brain is skewed or not? I'm just wasting time here, I guess.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:10 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Which irrational beliefs do I hold regarding religious ideology?

      Also, I never defended religious education, I defended the education I received from a religious organization. You stated that Catholic schools were worthy of only loathing, which is an unfair assessment of the Catholic Church's contribution to education worldwide as a whole.

      I'd look closer to home when identifying indoctrination. Why do you greet religion with such vitriol?

      June 20, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Anon: The RCC is the greatest criminal organization in this world. I don't care what good they may do, one thing over-shadows that–they harbor pedophiles. When they turn the peds over, the other things might look a little better but I refuse to support criminals or show respect.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:20 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      @Icantletyou – Well thanks for showing such overwhelming bias right there. See? I knew I wouldn't have to go looking for those other comments you made. I'm a lazy troll.
      "unfair assessment" eh? Ha. You are just pathetic. How can you type that with a straight face? Seriously.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:25 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Jimmy G

      Okay, you are clearly a troll or somebody unable to engage in civil discourse. Please go fvck yourself with a rusty bread-knife.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:28 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      @Truth Prevails ;-)
      I think "Anon" is one of our regular catholic trolls. Bill, I think.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:31 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      "civil discourse"? What a laugh. Am I telling you to fuck yourself? No. I was saving that for later. You are angry because I caught you being a catholic apologist. Now you have started a flame war. Meh. I may think of something nasty to say.
      Look out! Here comes an f-bomb!

      June 20, 2013 at 5:35 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Don't you worry about blank, let me worry about blank.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Jimmy: I would guess it's Bill due to him being one of the most outspoken about the RCC.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:41 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      @Truth Prevails ;-) – Well, there is at least one other it could be. "Hal" here could be Bill trying on an agnostic sockpuppet on for size, responding to his Anon post, hoping to throw us off. It really doesn't matter much what the true story is, anyway.
      When I first saw this guy's posts, I noticed something was off. Now I see it is just a catholic. Oh well.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Blank! Blank! You're not looking at the big picture here.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • Steph

      I went no others who went to Catholic school. No better than public schools. But the priest did continue to molest boys and girls while the bishop knew for at least 4 years. Secondly any school who does not have to take any "problem" children will have and easier time to teach. Public schools have take the developmentally disabled, the children with ADHD, drug and discipline issues. Private schools have the ability to kick them out.
      I left the Catholic Church and have never had a closer walk with God. I also found much of the teachings I was taught as gospel truth were not in the bible....

      June 20, 2013 at 5:54 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Don't you be telling ME I need to look at the big picture! You are the one being an apologist here. Care to explain what you think you are doing, pretending to be a non-catholic? Did you have Jesuit teachers? Think the ends justify the means even if the ends are never reached? You guys are so delusional and twisted. What is your "master's degree" in? Theology? LOL

      June 20, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Hmmm. I remember the square-dancing stomachs, but that might have been a Mylanta commercial.

      June 20, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      And now you are having a meltdown. Too bad it's only a metaphor. Go die in a fire, catholic pos.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:03 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Baby, when you look like me, you don't have to know anything.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Having unmasked you for the piece of shit faker, now your true insanity gibbers openly. And it's only Thursday.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      You know what's the worst thing about being a slave? They don't pay you or let you go.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:11 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Yes, you're the one. Is that you Uncouth? Trying on new sockpuppets? Greg? Bill? Come on, little fellah. Tell us your real name.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Oh hyesss, they say madness runs in our family. They even called ME mad. And why? Because I dare to dream of my own race of atomic monsters! Atomic super men with obtangled shaped bodies that suck blood out of the....

      June 20, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • Alias

      Private schools have advantages over public schools.
      'christian' has nothing to do with it.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that


      I think that's probably a fair assessment.

      June 20, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  19. Apple Bush

    You are who you are so
    shove it, you love it.
    You are who you are so
    Stuff it in and rough it. Your bothers be proud of it
    Don’t die in your car
    we might need the back seat.
    Don’t shit in the can
    Just miss it, they’ll fix it.
    Don’t spray on the fans
    They spray back, they pay back

    June 20, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  20. tallulah13

    It doesn't matter who is the pope as long as the basic dogma of the catholic church remains rooted in the dark ages.

    June 20, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Athy

      Right on, tallulah. The legacy of ignorance must be promulgated at all cost. If they don't change and adapt they'll eventually become extinct. It'll just take time.

      June 20, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Frobo son of Drovo

      @Athy – Their methods show that they know stupid ignorant people make better mind-slaves. They tell everyone to make babies and make sure those babies will never grow up to be intelligent or educated with anything but their brainwashing cult nonsense. They are actually likely to outnumber rational people in the future because they are already doing that now and have been doing this for thousands of years. Force the slaves to have babies and kill anyone who is not a believer. Works every time. Free slaves, more slaves, dumb slaves, billions of slaves and only one billion reasonable people scattered amongst them, terrorized into silence by the evil ones.

      June 20, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • Athy

      Well, that's a bit extreme, Frobo. Hopefully sanity will prevail and it won't come to that.

      June 20, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Has sanity EVER prevailed in the long run? No.

      June 20, 2013 at 3:15 am |
1 2 3 4 5
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.