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Ex-pope breaks silence, denies cover up
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, left, greets Pope Francis during a March meeting at the Vatican gardens.
September 24th, 2013
02:05 PM ET

Ex-pope breaks silence, denies cover up

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Retired Pope Benedict XVI says he never tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, breaking his post-retirement silence to address one of the greatest threats to his legacy as a church leader.

In a lengthy letter published in La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, the former pope answered theological and moral arguments from Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician who had written about Benedict in 2011.

Earlier this month, La Repubblica also published a letter to its atheist editor from Pope Francis, Benedict's successor.

Since his retirement on February 28, Benedict has mostly stayed out of the public eye, living in a converted monastery behind St. Peter's Basilica and keeping his promise to steer clear - at least publicly - of church business.

Benedict's new letter, coming on the heels of Francis' blockbuster interview published last week, makes for a remarkable week for papal communication. Most modern popes have been fairly inaccessible - to the media, at least.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

In Benedict's letter, published Tuesday, the former pope said: "As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things."

Benedict, who now has the title "pope emeritus," also said that even though sociologists have determined that the percentage of priests accused of abusing minors is not markedly higher than other professions, that's "not reassuring" for the church.

Critics answer that it's the not just the crimes but the coverups that made the church's response to sexual abuse so scandalous.

"Over a clerical career that lasted more than six decades, we can’t think of a single child-molesting bishop, priest, nun, brother or seminarian that Benedict ever exposed," said Barbara Dorris of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Before he was elected pope, Benedict, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which assumed responsibility for handling priest abuse cases late in his career.

As pope, he issued revised guidelines in 2010 making it easier to remove abusive priests from the ministry, apologized for the "shame" the scandal brought on the church and met with victims, including in the United States in 2008.

Critics like SNAP dismissed those moves as too little, too late.

In the United States alone, nearly 17,000 people have come forward with abuse claims, and the church has paid $2.6 billion in settlements, therapy bills, lawyers' fees and expenses related to removing priests from the ministry, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

MORE ON CNN: Can Pope Francis make his vision a reality?

In Tuesday's letter, and on past occasions, Benedict has decried the "filth" of sexual abuse in the church. But, the emeritus pope said, it is not "specific to Catholicism." He also chided Odifreddi for neglecting the good the church has done.

"If you do not remain silent about evil in the Church, we must not, however, be silenced even by the great shining path of goodness and purity, which Christian faith has traced through the centuries," Benedict said.

Pope Francis said in April, in one of his first statements as pope, that the church must take "decisive action" regarding cases of child sexual abuse and protecting children.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Crime • Media • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Rape • Sex abuse • Vatican

soundoff (2,421 Responses)
  1. David

    One question highlights how seriously benedict took this crisis – does cardinal law – the Prime Conspirator in Boston – have a posh position in Rome? He should be in jail, IMHO. Certainly not a respected member of the church.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  2. Apple Bush

    I have a technical question for someone touched by the Holy Spirit. When the End comes and believers go to heaven, do they fly UP or just kind of fade away or "blip" gone? If they fly up, there is a lot of space junk that will be an issue. Why do their bodies need to go again? It would be more efficient to lose the skin and then just float around and find heaven. Probably just follow some other folks.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Joey

      If I am ever touched by the holy spirit I'm just going to call the cops and get that sicko taken off the streets.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • Darwin The Nut Case

        There are more sickos wearing the uniform that anyone else.

        September 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      I thought it was an old British double-decker bus that picked you up?...

      September 25, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      My preference; a 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder

      September 25, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Maserati station wagon woody.

      September 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • doobzz

      I just hope it's not an umbrella like that asshole Mary Poppins.

      September 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  3. david

    He still does not get it – it has never been a case of "more Catholic offenders" – there will be offenders in every religion, every career, families, etc. The thing that makes the Catholic problem the most disgusting, is not that there were priest offenders (horrible, yes, but not the most horrible) – the most disgusting thing is how the leaders of the Catholic Church conspired to allow it to continue. Individual offenders will always be a problem – major corporations like the catholic church, cannot enable the offenders. Disgusting.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  4. Apple Bush

    You, child
    Crossing the line without knowing
    Just for being who you are
    What confusion was hard wired?
    A developing brain, healthy and ready
    Sabotaged as a child
    To an inevitable end.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      Hey you ! out there in the cold
      Getting lonely, getting old, can you feel me
      Hey you ! Standing in the aisles
      With itchy feet and fading smiles, can you feel me
      Hey you ! don't help them to bury the light
      Don't give in without a fight.
      Hey you ! out there on your own
      sitting naked by the phone would you touch me
      Hey you ! with your ear against the wall
      Waiting for someone to call out would you touch me
      Hey you ! would you help me to carry the stone
      Open your heart, I'm coming home
      But it was only a fantasy
      The wall was too high as you can see
      No matter how he tried he could not break free
      And the worms ate into his brain.
      Hey you ! out there on the road
      Always doing what you're told, can you help me
      Hey you ! out there beyond the wall
      Breaking bottles in the hall, can you help me
      Hey you ! don't tell me there's no hope at all
      Together we stand, divided we fall.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:54 am |
      • Apple Bush

        I loves me some PF!

        September 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          When I read your poem, Pink Floyd 'Hey You' popped into my head...

          September 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Yeah, I see it now. Perhaps that was an influence!

          September 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  5. Apple Bush

    Bill, this may help. If I am Apple Bush, I have brushed my teeth and I am wearing clothes. If I am Bag Boy, not so much.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sounds like eight months sober. You're right where you should be.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Apple Bush

        lol

        September 25, 2013 at 11:29 am |
        • Apple Bush

          I actually had a nice moment with my kids a couple of days ago high fives for 8 months.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • doobzz

        *snerk*

        September 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    @fantastic

    R u a Dolphins fan, or does your name mean something else?

    September 25, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • fintastic

      That's "FINTASTIC" ............ nothing to do with football or ocean mammals

      September 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • doobzz

        Does it have anything to do with ocean fish?

        September 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  7. Pollywod

    Benedict had his turn to speak – he walked away from the job. He needs to keep his mouth shut and let the new pope address the issues, not try to justify his lack of action

    September 25, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  8. Truth in the Heart

    One thing I thougth was interesting is how the SNAP group said that the Pope has done in response to the abuse was "too little too late". My question then is why shoul he do anything at all? I mean if what he has done has not made SNAP happy then why do anything at all. Sorta sounds like "damed if you do and damned if you don't." Some folks will never be satisfied no matter what the Pope does or says.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Live4Him

      Excellent point!

      September 25, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • So if thousands of priests cut the arms off of tens of thousands of children

      With the protection and tacit approval of the church; and in response. And years later, the pope finally apologizes and offers to provide some band aids, the victims should be grateful because "why should he do anything at all"

      September 25, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Because ones actions should be based on what is the proper and, moral.... in this case doing everything possible to right the wrong....not on whither it is seen by others as such. I am not surprised you don't understand this concept. You think your actions should be validated and recognized by others as some kind of reward or they are wasted.

      September 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Darwin The Nut Case

        Blessed are the Cheesemakers
        Because ones actions should be based on what is the proper and, moral.

        Atheists caring about moralities? Now that's something new.

        September 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Yes I care about moralty, and so do many atheists, i.e. trying to determine the best choices I can make for all involved....as opposed to what religious "morality" is...obedience.

          Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told.
          Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

          September 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Darwin The Nut Case

          If you care so much about people rights and equality what the hell are you doing on these blogs nights and days bragging your big mouth against religions? I thought rights and equality was your main goal.

          September 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Oh, nice red herring and ad hominem all wrapped in one. The same question could be asked of you. If you are such a follower of Jesus why aren't you out selling all your possesions, including your computer, and giving them to the poor?

          I was responding to the original post. All you seem to care about is personal attacks and broad, erroneous generalizations which seem more important to you.

          September 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Darwin The Nut Case

          Who told you that i was a jesus follower? I am only responding to the fact that all i see are atheists which are laughing at people for their own beliefs. Oh you're being so supportive of equality and of people rights, my a$$. You have no respect for others and you don't care about freedom of speech. All you care of is about bragging that big mouth of yours insulting people. Freedom is a one way street for you, only atheists are allowed freedom of speech, right?

          September 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Only Jesus followers have a problem with Darwin. You are more than welcome to share your speech. I have never told you otherwise. Jesus said you should sell your posessions, not me. Unless you deny Jesus like Peter did...Jesus doesn't like that you know.

          September 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Darwin The Nut Case

          You keep calling me a jesus follower without proof. And you call me being judgmental? You have serious mental issues.

          September 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          That is twice you have denied Jesus...the c0ck is going to crow...will you make it a 3rd time? You will make baby Jesus cry.

          September 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Live4Him

    The atheists on these forum don't even realize that they're fulfulling Jesus' words.

    John 15:18-19 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

    John 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      not the words of any god, words of men. Sorry 😦

      September 25, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Live4Him

        If Jesus WAS just a man, how did He know 2000 years ago that you and other atheists would be consumed by such hate?

        September 25, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Apple Bush

          I am not consumed with hate so I guess you are misguided.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • tallulah13

          So the book that declares that Jesus is the son of god tells you that people who don't believe Jesus is the son of god are wrong, and you take that as some sort of proof? It's just propaganda. It's something that all cults do.

          And there is no hate. How silly. Many of the words attributed to Jesus are quite worthwhile. It's just that silly part about gods and heaven and hell and immortality - the part that is nothing more than unsubstantiated bribery created to make this cult more attractive than other cults to potential believers– that deserves ridicule.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Lie4Him, Did it ever occur to you that the writers of the bible understood human nature and wanted to grow their church, and so used the ancient tricks of prophesy much like astrologers and tarot readers.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • sam stone

          i am not consumed with hate. i think you are delusional, but that is not hatred

          feeling a bit put upon?

          September 25, 2013 at 11:31 am |
        • Joey

          It goes something like love the believer hate the belief.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:33 am |
        • denim

          Disagreement is not hate.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Please explain in your own words....I am not clear on your point.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Apple Bush : Please explain in your own words....I am not clear on your point.

        Atheists (and others who oppose Christianity) are so motivated by their hate that they come to a religion forum for many hours to pour abuse on Christians. This was foretold by Jesus Christ almost 2000 years ago.

        September 25, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • goddog

          Live... I am an Atheist. I got to this article through a link on the CNN web page, as I am sure others have, as well as many other links. I didn't "come to a religious forum" in the way that you are trying to describe. You want to make it seem like an attack on Christianity when it really is not.

          Also... All religions that claim to be "the only right" religion are opposed and ridiculed by one group or another or, all of the other "right" religions. It's not rocket science to know this would be true so... maybe you should set aside your crush on "Jesus" and live in the real world a while. Every claim you make begins with "if" because no one knows what Jesus said... if there even was a Jesus. Your words are a tiresome rabbit hole on the edge of which I will not stand.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Apple Bush

        I see. Well. That is really stupid. Thanks for clearing that up.

        September 25, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

          LOL

          September 25, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • JJ

      I think David Koresh, Jim Jones and many other nutters said the same thing about themselves and their prophecy was fulfilled. So what's your point?

      September 25, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Live4Him

        @JJ : I think David Koresh, Jim Jones and many other nutters said the same thing about themselves and their prophecy was fulfilled.

        You THINK? Is this the best rebuttal that you can muster? Please provide a quote from them, along with current evidence that hatred is being poured out on one or more of their followers. THIS is the standard in debates – not "I think". I think is pure conjecture – i.e. wishful thinking on your part.

        September 25, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Madtown

          I think is pure conjecture
          ----
          LOL! VS. you "knowing" the thoughts of God, the actions of God, the desires of God. Priceless comedy.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • sam stone

          no kidding. the faithful talking about conjecture

          September 25, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • Joey

          Live4Him, you base your entire life on wishful thinking, i.e. Christianity.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Madtown

      Many humans are not athiests at all, they just have no knowledge of Jesus. Christianity is not a universally shared concept.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yep...only Jesus could equate non-belief to hate....what a guy! Only a real god could make that connection.

      September 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    @Bill Deacon

    "Militant Atheist" was a joke Bill. I have no idea what a militant atheist would be. lol

    September 25, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Darwin The Nut Case

      Militant atheists describes people like you and those on like you on this blogs. Do you wear a t-shirt saying Proud To Be An Atheist? I bet you do.

      September 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • m murdoch

        and nut case describes your kind of poster. sky fairies. ha ha.

        September 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Darwin The Nut Case

          Have you received a PhD for that intelligence of yours?

          September 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  11. Meatwad

    Them good ol' boys are dancing! That's the mad note yo.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Apple Bush

      You see Bill, sometimes Meatwad just has something to say. No harm in that.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:58 am |
      • Meatwad

        Why ain't you dancin'?

        September 25, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  12. Birdyboyz

    Yes he did and so did Pope Paul .They cared more about the $$$$ than children. Google Fr.Marcial Marciel.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  13. Jack M

    Hearing from Benedict again, I am reminded of how glad I was to see him go. Maybe he needs to go to confession?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Bag Boy

      I am reminded how much I wish he would go to heaven and shut up.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Gort1

        Heaven? Really?

        September 25, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Bag Boy

          Yes heaven. He IS the Pope!

          September 25, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • whyadamlanzadidit

        Benedict ain't going to heaven

        September 25, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          Aint no heaven.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  14. Bag Boy

    Bill Deacon, I told that little old lady what more people should tell her. STOP LITTERING!

    September 25, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Bag Boy

      Oh Bill, just so you know and in the interest of full disclosure, I am also: Meatwad, Father O'blivion, Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Fake Heavensent.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        See confession is good for the soul. Now you can begin to look forward to the day when you can be yourself.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Apple Bush

          I am many things with many handles. That is who I am Bill. Sorry you don't like it.

          September 25, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Oh I don't mind. I'm just glad to know. I like to converse with people who only have one face.

          September 25, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Apple Bush

          Bill, I have one face and many handles. You are really struggling with this aren't you? Oh, I am also HeavenSense sometime, but only if I am talking to prayerbot.

          Many of my handles are only for one particular person.

          September 25, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • OKfine

          BD, you are right I would love to help the church self destruct, the sooner the better, especially the RCC controlled schools. BTW, I did not rail against the s.ex abuse scandal until one of your heroes Ratzinger himself brought it back to the front page. There is enough in the crazy dogma of the RCC to criticize without ragging on the accessories to pedophilia, many bishops and cardinals.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          He'll probably be linked with the scandal for a long time. It's unfortunate but I can assure you that there are people who will just as vociferously defend the Church as you attack it. So, don't be surprised when your disproportionate response meets and equally excessive rebuttal.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • OKfine

      BD I am never surprised what religious fanaticism can create although your lot pales in comparison to Islam. In a way I equate the resignation of Ratzinger to the impeachment of Nixon, neither were involved in the initial crime but got undone by being an accessory by way of the cover up, something you can't come to grips with. You really should look into the dozens of docu,mentaries on the evils of the RCC but it wouldn't help. I fear you have been captured by the pomp and pageantry and are addicted beyond help.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • Darwin The Nut Case

        And you idolize atheism?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_atheism

        September 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • jebus the nutcase

          How do you "idolize" a lack of belief in god??...... ........ not a very fart smeller.

          September 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  15. palintwit

    Bristol Palin's next novel should be hitting bookstore shelves soon. Her recent memoirs about her life as a drunk, pregnant teenager sold an astounding 1,500 copies and buoyed by this success she has worked very hard to write the sequel. Her adoring public expects no less because after all, the Palin family is known for not being quitters.

    And related news in the literary world has Sarah Palin hosting another book signing event this weekend. Tens of people are expected to show up.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Madtown

      I'd pay actual money to see Bri$tol, $arah, and Honey Boo Boo on an episode of Jeopardy. They should do a pay-per-view event, that would be some amazing comedy!

      September 25, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  16. Exit 36-B

    This is the Great Western Schism all over again (late 14th, early 15th century). Theology trumps location and I guarantee that this is going to get ugly.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Atheistically Yours

      We can only HOPE! SCHISM! SCHISM! SCHISM!

      September 25, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  17. Agnostickids

    If we were made in Gods image, why aren't we invisible too?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Red

      Because we're on punishment for one. Two, who says we're made in God's image? We're just made by God. We don't look like him. No person or thing can be that beautiful.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        Please feel free to provide your extraordinary proof that we were created by a god.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:25 am |
        • Robert

          Actually scripture says that after the fall we were created in Adam's image. Genesis 5:3

          September 25, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          LOL funny considering that scripture wasnt written by any god but by men.....

          September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Oh please do enlighten us with what your imaginary friend looks like...cause beauty in the sense of internal beauty is far from what that god is.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Darwin The Nut Case

          You're lost beyond curable.

          September 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Frank

      Ur stupid.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  18. Joe Knows Best

    Amazing how much time people spend arguing about something they don't believe in or care about.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • JJ

      If such a large portion of the population believed in fairies there would be a similar discussion and concern.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's amazing how some people think that their belief in a particular myth makes them immune to criticism and scrutiny. Just look at the behaviors of the leaders of the catholic church - their willingness to cover up the crimes of priests and the continued denial of guilt. Then there are those who wish to empower their belief by illegally codifying it in the laws of this secular nation. I don't honestly care what anyone believes, but when they use it as an excuse to harm others, you bet I'll be very outspoken about the fact that there is no evidence that any god or gods exist.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • james

        amazing how many non-believers come to the belief blog to complain about believers.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          yawn.......didnt know the belief blog was only for the brainwashed.

          September 25, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • Live4Him

          They don't even realize that they're fulfulling Jesus' words.

          John 15:18-19 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

          John 17:14
          I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

          September 25, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • tallulah13

          I explained exactly why at least I come here. Your reading comprehension is very poorly developed, James. Or perhaps you didn't even bother to read the comment. It wouldn't surprise me. Some believers make it a habit to ignore anything that criticizes their belief.

          And I am not at all surprised that 'Jesus' talks about non-believers. A great way to make believers feel special is by telling them that the people who don't believe are lesser. Propaganda at its finest.

          September 25, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          sorry "live4him"
          Not the word of any god, its the word of mere mortals written and edited throughout history..........

          September 25, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Who says we don't care. I care.

      September 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  19. fintastic

    @Einstein...... "Atheism and communism are very close and those killing were done by people with the same goal."

    You really need to change your handle from Einstein to "dumba$$"

    " Communism. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people"

    "Atheism = A lack of belief in god"

    September 25, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Live4Him

      @fintastic : Atheism = A lack of belief in god

      Not according to linguistics of the term. Lets break down the term down by its components:

      Suffix:
      -ist : One who holds/practices certain principles (i.e. scientist practices the scientific method to determine truths).
      -ism : a distinctive doctrine, cause or theory

      Thus, an atheist is one who practices the doctrine of atheism.

      Prefix:
      a- : From the Greek prefix of "a" meaning Not

      Root:
      the : From the Greek word of "theos" meaning God

      Thus, the actual definition of atheism is the doctrine (i.e. a belief system) that there is no deity, rather than the LACK OF BELIEF.

      On the otherhand – Agnostic (which means "one who does not know") would indicate a lack of belief in either a god or multple gods or no god.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:07 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        Lie4him
        It is not a lack of belief. That is like saying I lack cancer.

        Atheism is simply not believing in gods. You can define it all you want, your defintion is wrong.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • fintastic

        "Thus, the actual definition of atheism is the doctrine (i.e. a belief system) that there is no deity, rather than the LACK OF BELIEF"

        All hail the mighty word twisters...... Atheism = a lack in belief in god........... NOT "I believe that I don't believe" There is no "doctrine" of atheism.

        September 25, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • fintastic

        Is there a doctrine of not playing chess??

        September 25, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • fintastic

        Is there a doctrine of not believing in leprechauns??

        September 25, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • laststonecarver

      the·oc·ra·cy – [thee-ok-ruh-see] Show IPA
      noun, plural the·oc·ra·cies.
      1.a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God's or deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.
      2. a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
      3. a commonwealth or state under such a form or system of government.

      No ti tle or definition for an atheist state – maybe Atheocracy?? – because none exist

      a·the·ism – [ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA
      noun
      1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
      2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

      be·lief – [bih-leef] Show IPA
      noun
      1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
      2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
      3.confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.
      4.a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • fintastic

      Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism,which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

      Hope that clears it up for the mighty "this means that" word twisters.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Darwin The Nut Case

      Communism and atheism are very close, there are only a few small differences between these two cults. " i said cult because that's what it really is despite your denial".

      September 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • m murdoch

        nut case lives up to her name again

        September 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • jebus the nutcase

        The pope smokes dope---- not that there's anything wrong with that.

        September 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  20. Derf

    Okay ex-pope, whatever helps you sleep at night.

    September 25, 2013 at 9:21 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.