July 2nd, 2013
11:58 AM ET

CNN exclusive: Catholic monk not beheaded by Syrian rebels, friar says

By Mohammed Jamjoom and Daniel Burke, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN) - A Catholic monk was not among the men beheaded in a gruesome video circulating online, a friar who oversees Franciscans in the Middle East told CNN in an exclusive interview.

Father Franҫois Mourad, a Syrian, was shot eight times and killed June 23 at a Catholic monastery in Gassanieh, said Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Mourad was buried the same day in a nearby village, the friar said.

A nine-minute video, which appears to have been shot with a handheld device, shows three men being beheaded on a grassy hill while a crowd shouts, “Allahu Akbar!” - Arabic for God is great. It is not clear where or when the video was shot.

A number of Catholic websites in the United States have posted the video online, saying that Mourad was among the three beheaded men.

“I deny this vigorously," Pizzaballa said. "He has nothing to do with this video and with (these) three poor persons."

Pizzaballa said he had seen the video, which he called “shameful.”

In a statement Friday, the Custody of the Holy Land also denied media reports that three friars had been killed in Syria recently.

Headquartered in Jerusalem, the Custody includes about 285 Franciscan friars and covers Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Pizzaballa said that Mourad sought refuge at Gassanieh because it was considered to be safe from Syria’s bloody civil war, which has claimed more than 93,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

The Vatican has not commented on the video and referred questions to Pizzaballa.

A June 25 report from Vatican Radio - the church’s official broadcast - said that Mourad was killed during a raid on the Franciscan monastery of St. Anthony of Padua in Gassanieh, a predominantly Christian village near the Turkish border.

Mourad was well-known in the region, according to the Franciscans. He completed his novitiate in Rome as a Franciscan of the Custody and moved to Syria, where he was a citizen, to live a contemplative life as a hermit. As the war wore on, Mourad sought refuge at the monastery.

Several Franciscans, four nuns and 10 Christians also lived at the monastery, which was considered safe until the raid, according to Pizzaballa.

“When (Father) Franҫois tried to oppose resistance to defend the nuns and other people, the guerrillas shot him, killing him,” according the Vatican Radio report.

Most of the Gassanieh's Christian population has fled, Pizzaballa told Vatican Radio, after weeks of assaults by Syrian rebels.

“Mourad was just one of the many men and women religious putting their faith on the front line in Syria, refusing to abandon the communities they serve, Christian and Muslim," Vatican Radio said.

"They stay because they want to be a sign of hope, light and comfort to people in the midst of destruction."

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Foreign policy • Jerusalem • Middle East • Religious violence • Syria • Vatican

soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. sebastian

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    July 7, 2013 at 8:13 am |
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    July 7, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  3. croixmom

    So if Fr. Mourad was not the priest in the video, who was the priestly/religious-garbed man who WAS beheaded? Seems strainge someone would circulate the priestly-garbed man, beheaded in the video was Fr. Mourad, if indeed it was not?

    July 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  4. ciao

    It doesn't matter how he was martyred, by the kitchen knife or by bullets. He was a servant of God, living peacefully with the people he was there to bring Christ to. He was murdered in cold blood by Syrian rebels, who probably used American supplied guns. Is this what our taxpaying dollars are used for? This is a crime and we American people should be outraged.

    July 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      OK we're pi'ssed. Now what?

      July 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Since a Muslim killed a Christian. Does that men Islam is superior to Christianity.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      mean not men

      July 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Free Turk

      There is evil in this world and we must oppose it but not with the means that they use, we can be better

      July 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      OK Free the floor is yours. give us your ideas!

      July 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  5. what is wrong with the picture !!!

    there should be an outcry from Catholic community that innocent people were behea'ded, not cry of joy that his guy was spared from behea'ding.

    July 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  6. John Stemberger


    July 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You failed!

      July 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Prawn Stars

      I'll give you a D-
      That's the best I can do.

      July 4, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  7. deaconjohn1987

    Reblogged this on Deacon John's Space.

    July 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  8. Jacqueleen

    This administration is not beginning to send support in the way of money and guns, it has been sending them to the rebels from day one. So, my dear USA taxpayer, besides our reputation going down into the toilet, we are on the side of evil doers who are killing innocent Christians including priests. Start calling, writing, emailing your representatives and senators now protesting the aiding and abetting of this senseless killing. Our tax Dollars are needed here to help all those who are victims of a lethargic, commie government that refuses to create private industry jobs for Americans. The likes of this administration is condoning the killing of Americans by breathing the spraying of our atmosphere and putting insecticide into our plant seeds that we will ingest (GMOs).. What kind of nutrition is in insecticide? Then, the chemicals that this gov't is adding to vaccines to create disabled individuals who cannot think for themselves or shoot a gun! Do you think this administration and those supporting them from behind the scenes have an evil agenda? Certainly, killing us off is not looking after our welfare now is it?

    July 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Akira

      I had agreed with your post up until I read "commie" and realized this was nothing more than a attack on Obama, thinly veiled as faux concerned for the victims.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Akira

      I had agreed with your post up until I read “commie” and realized this was nothing more than a attack on Obama, thinly veiled as faux concerned for the victims.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Akira

      What's a socie? Or is that another made up lol?? witticism that is supposed to make sense to anyone not you?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      sounds like a combination of glen beck and rush limbaugh. Paranoid with a bit of delusion.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  9. derp

    I wonder if they prayed to jesus to not be killed?

    Jesus was apparently busy helping Tim Tebow with his off season work outs.

    July 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • AlexanderE81

      Martyrs have long had their place in Christendom and Syria has been a land of Christian martyrs since Roman times. If our Lord Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross in the flesh than how can any of his followers expect to be treated any better. A martyr is a planted seed and when that seed grows it becomes a tree that bears much fruit. Its been that way since the first martyrs of the Christian faith.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Capitaine Jacques DuMort

    I am driving over a cliff now. Goodbye cruel cnn

    July 3, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      1. How high is the cliff?
      2. What is at the bottom?
      3. What is the vehicle?

      .........if it's not too late....

      July 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  11. CNN cannott verify

    Somebody is trying hard to portray McCain "freedom fighters" as angels and not as ruthless terrorists.

    July 3, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  12. Reality

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

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

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

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite global blood feud (Syria, Iraq, Pakistan et. al.) and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    July 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Capitaine Jacques DuMort

      testing n'est pas

      July 3, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • joe king

      Israel and neocons in our government did 9/11. That you have an internet connection and dont know this means youre a brainwashed sheep, or a paid shill.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • AlexanderE81

      Actually in Syria Christians are allied with Shiite Muslims, Alawite Muslims and many Sunni Muslims who still support the Syrian government (as opposed to supporting the US sponsored Wahhabist butchers of the FSA/Al Nusra). It is the American government that is supporting these bearded monsters who are cutting the heads off of priests, ransacking monasteries, raping nuns and the like. The American government is responsible for that. The blood of Christians in Syria is on the hands of Obama, and McCain and the like.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @joe......Please stop with the nonsense. Why would Israel attack the one country that keeps their azz alive in the middle east?

      So now you're saying Bush did 9/11? Hey I can't stand dubya. But there is ZERO motive for bush to do it. He used 9/11 to create the lie to attack Iraq! bush didn't do 9//11 because the plan worked! If bush did it the planes would have missed the towers!

      July 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Reality

      Our War on Terror and Aggression:

      An update (or how we are spending or how we have spent the USA taxpayers’ money to eliminate global terror and aggression)

      The terror and aggression via a Partial and Recent and Not So Recent Body Count

      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
      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
      Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

      27) Boston Marathon horror – April 2013, four dead, hundreds injured and maimed for life.

      Continued below:
      Other elements of our War on Terror and Aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- 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 as of 09/15/2011/, 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

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in 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 mostly due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      – Ditto for Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011

      – Ditto for Abu Yahya al-Libi on June 5, 2012

      – The Boston Marathon bombers- one dead, one in custody

      July 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  13. Will

    Obama, McCain, and the rest of the anti-Christian terrorists who run this country get hard as a rock when they hear about their US-taxpayer-funded al-Queda buddies torturing and slaughtering Christians.

    July 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Ken Margo

      Oh now Obama and McCain are bosom buddies. Everybody is getting killed no matter what they are. Just be glad you aren't getting one of those haircuts that start and stop at the neck!

      July 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  14. My two cents

    And we are getting ready to give these guys guns why?

    July 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Because munitions conglomerates will make $$$$$$

      July 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  15. Breeze

    He was shot, not hanged? Well, that's okay then...NOT!

    July 2, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  16. MrCrewel Dude

    If first you don't succeed , try, try, please try again.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Agnostic analogy

      The appropriate goal when standing up for any cause, including the cause of ending religions should begin with a goal to see less humans harmed..not more.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:21 am |
  17. Sultun Mehmet Bey prophesy

    the islamists keep pushing sultan mehmet bey's prophesy....one world empire under one religion...because some islamist cleric wrote a hadith......time to put a stop to that philosophy....

    July 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • meifumado

      time to put a stop to Islam and all religions.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  18. Fiona

    The most repulsive thing about that video is the excitement of the crowd, with everyone crowding around and trying to capture the gore on their phone cameras. You can see people smiling - even a young teenager. The executioner is a monster, but the onlookers are almost more twisted: they seem to be getting off on the slaughter.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Lets see, Republicans are against health care. Republicans are against a women's right to choose. Republicans are against immigration reform. Republicans refuse to vote on job bills. Keep things in perspective. The executioner is doing his job. The Republicans aren't. Republicans are the monster.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • MiLin

      The monk wasn't beheaded but he was still KILLED by those who apparently hate peace and the Christian faith. Republicans are far from perfect but at least they are not advocating the death of innocent babies (abortion) and destroying traditional family unit. The Democrats used to be good, but now they are worse than evil.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • MiLin

      Regarding Republican comment: they are far from perfect but it is Democrats who are advocating death of babies and destruction of the family unit (aka traditional marriage). It is truly evil what they have been pushing in this country.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Ken and MiLin

      Get a rational perspective, please. Both parties are absolutely horrendous.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Akira

      Oh, give it a rest, MiLin. What a bunch of rot. Republicans believe in "save the fetus, starve the child", evidenced by their desire to decimate SNAP and cut services to the children they pretend to love. It's all about control. And heteros are responsible for the decline of the family unit-so please don't be projecting the behavior of heteros onto gay people, who only desire equality and a willingness to adopt the 100000 children languishing in the foster care system because you altruistic people deem them "the wrong race/color."
      What's evil is people like you paying a lot of lip service for your cause without actually stepping up to the plate to DO something. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Adopt a unwanted child today, otherwise shut up about choices that you have no business sticking your nose into.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Milin...................Please grow up. nobody is killing babies. Kids are not free. I noticed you weren't offering money to help support these kids you want so badly to be born. Are you willing to raise taxes? or are you a typical republican who quotes the bible before birth, ignore it after birth.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      their isn't a democrat in history as bad as john boehner. Boehner is the worst speaker in history. The man brings nothing up for a vote.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  19. mikifrikki

    who cares if he was beheaded or shot 8 times? what is wrong with you people...either way he was murdered and the Syrian rebels are a bunch of murderers killing in the name of Islam...and being funded by the USA

    July 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • jbq2

      That's the way that I see it too. However, I believe that this is "damage control" and there is a worry that the beheadings will continue. I have no doubt that he was beheaded.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  20. Brett

    It is a weary world. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ...Jesus (Mathew 11:28)

    July 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      They're coming to him alright! Some without heads and some with bullet holes. Some with both! They'll get all the rest they need now. Guaranteed.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • MiLin

      Brett: Thank you for your reminder.

      July 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Jesus has an interesting way of removing his delusional but faithful believers from harm's way.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @hot................Couldn't Jesus remove them from harm's way BEFORE they are harmed?

      July 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      One would think so, assuming gods and jesus actually existed.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @hot..................I hate to say it but................. god works in mysterious ways!

      July 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Or not, in the broadest sense, at all.

      July 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The seeds of the Church are watered with the blood of the martyrs. Don't believe me? Google Charles Lwanga.

      July 3, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Akira

      There are martyrs to many causes. Religion is just one.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:54 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.