November 26th, 2013
10:21 AM ET

Pope Francis: No more business as usual

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church - including at the very top  saying the church needs to rethink rules and customs that are no longer widely understood or effective for evangelizing.

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," the Pope said in a major new statement.

"I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures," Francis added.

The Pope's address, called an "apostolic exhortation," is part mission statement, part pep talk for the world's 1.5 billion Catholics. Francis' bold language and sweeping call for change are likely to surprise even those who've grown accustomed to his unconventional papacy.

"Not everyone will like this document," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author in New York. "For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo."

And it's not just a verbal challenge, the Pope said on Tuesday.

"I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences."

Since his election in March, Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, has made headlines by decrying the iniquities of modern capitalism, embracing the poor and people with disabilities and reaching out to gays and lesbians.

At the same time, the 77-year-old pontiff has sought to to awaken a spirit of joy and compassion in the church, scolding Catholic "sourpusses" who hunt down rule-breakers and calling out a "tomb psychology" that "slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum."

"An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" the Pope said.

Officially known in Latin as "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the 85-page statement released on Tuesday is the first official document written entirely by Pope Francis. (An earlier document was co-written by Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.)

Although Francis sprinkles the statement with citations of previous popes and Catholic luminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, the new pontiff makes a bold call for the church to rethink even long-held traditions.

"In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated," the Pope said.

"Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives."

Such statements mark a sharp break from Benedict XVI, a more tradition-bound pope who focused on cleaning up cobwebs of unorthodoxy in the church.

By contrast, in "Evangelii" Francis repeats his calls for Catholics to stop "obsessing" about culture war issues and to focus more on spreading the Gospel, especially to the poor and marginalized.

READ MORE: The Pope’s bold new vision

The outside world, particularly its economic inequalities, didn't escape Francis' notice either.

In a section of "Evangelii" entitled "some challenges to today's world," he sharply criticized what he called an "idolatry of money" and "the inequality that spawns violence."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

“Meanwhile,” Francis said, “the excluded are still waiting.”

But the bulk of Francis' statement addresses the church, which, he said, should not be afraid to "get its shoes soiled by the mud of the street."

The Pope also hinted that he wants to see an end to the so-called "wafer wars," in which Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are denied Holy Communion. His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.

"Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason," Francis said.

"The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."

Even so, Francis reiterated the church's stand against abortion, defending it against critics who call such arguments "ideological, obscurantist and conservative."

"Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question," Francis said.

The Pope also reiterated previous rejections on ordaining women, saying the topic is "not open for discussion."

But that doesn't mean the church values men more than women, he said.

"We need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church," the Pope said.

Francis also said he expects other parts of the church to change, and called on Catholics to be unafraid of trying new things.

"More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving."

Francis didn't mention specific reforms, but he suggested that it could include changes at the very top of the church.

"Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy," he said.

READ MORE: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

The church's centralization, where all roads lead to Rome, and the "we've always done it this way" type of thinking have hindered Catholics' ability to minister to local people in far-flung places, Francis suggested.

"I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities," the Pope said.

Martin, the Jesuit priest and author, said he could not recall ever "reading a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating."

"The document’s main message is that Catholics should be unafraid of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel and new ways of thinking about the church."


The disfigured man in popular photos talks about the Pope's embrace 

Opinion – the Pope’s revolutionary message 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis

soundoff (2,437 Responses)
  1. SS

    Divorced people are not prevented from receiving the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. Only the divorced people who have REMARRIED without an annulment are prevented from receiving the Eucharist. The annulment recognizes that the previous marriage didn't exist and God didn't join together for reasons determined by a Tribunal. Otherwise, it is adultery with the man, first wife, and second wife in God's wife. There is plenty of scripture by Jesus to support the annulment process so don't think that the Church makes this stuff up to be difficult. ("His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.")

    November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • HA25

      "Otherwise, it is adultery with the man, first wife, and second wife in God's wife."
      So – anyone committing adultery cannot receive the Eucharist? What about anyone breaking any of the other 9 commandments? If I don't respect my father can I not receive it? If I swear to God?

      I think, SS – you are missing the point of the Pope's message...

      November 26, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • SS

        Typo! God's eyes (God's wife). Anybody who is sorry for their sins such as the ones that you mentioned should receive the Eucharist. We are talking about the Body and Blood of Christ which one should prepare oneself spiritually with a contrite heart.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Citizen

          Newt Gingrich got a free pass this way from the bishop of Atlanta, for the Catholic woman he was sleeping with for 8 years behind his wife's back. Of course, the annulment of his earlier marriages made his kids illiegitimate...

          November 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • hello

        its all really about female ownership... nothing more..
        to the mythic a marriage is the sale of the female from her father to her new owner her husband....
        property rights are very important to the mythic... just like it is to the salesmen.... of the dogma.

        November 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • ajk68

        People who break the other 9 commandments in a grave way (as adultery breaks the 6th Commandment in a grave way) are prohibited from receiving Holy Communion. Mortal sin – grave sin committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent – prevents one from receiving Communion.

        The media perpetually gets this issue wrong. The pope cannot change the prohibition on divorced and remarried people from receiving Communion. It is a consequence of dogma not Church discipline. He may end up clarifying the fact that just being divorced does not prevent one from receiving Communion (as many now mistakenly believe).

        November 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • SouthernCelt

        Interior introspection comes before getting in line to receive the Eucharist. You know your own sin before anyone else. The Bible is also quite specific about anyone who eats the Eucharist unworthily. If you have broken one of the 10 Commandments like Honoring your Father and Mother, and then gone to Mass before Confession, you should worry.

        November 27, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • jed clampett

      The problem is with the divorce. An easy way around that is polygamy. Then you can be good with God and it is not adultery.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Madtown

      so don't think that the Church makes this stuff up to be difficult
      Scripture is essentially "made up". It doesn't seem to come directly from God.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • veep

      my personally-witnessed experience in the Catholic Church is with an immediate Excommunication and Refusal of Eucharist with a Divorce.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • maggiemct

        No one is excommunicated just for getting a divorce. There has to be a LOT more to that story.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • ajk68

        Nobody is refused Communion except for extremely notorious cases of people living in sin.
        The prohibition of divorced and remarried people from receiving communion is self-policed.

        A lot of people hold mistaken notions about this issue. My guess is that Pope Francis may clarify the teaching which already exists: Divorced people who are not remarried may receive Holy Communion (provided, like everyone else, they are free of mortal sin).

        November 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • SouthernCelt

        Did you marry some else first, or were you single when denied the Eucharist? Unless it was a notorious sin accompanying divorce, divorce in itself is not a sin, just a disappointment. Remarriage without an annulment, however, is Adultery. Unforgiven Mortal Sin is usually denied the Eucharist.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • jnpa

      An annulment? You mean another money making scheme from the Catholic Church. My mother got an annulment from my father after 20 years of marriage which means in the eyes of the Church it never happened. What does that make me and my siblings or my mother for that matter. All she had to do was slap down $500 and she was never married. What a crock that is!

      November 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
      • Owl96

        What an anulment says is that the sacramental nature of the marriage never happened. There still was a "civil marriage" in the eyes of the state in which you lived. But one of both of the partners failed to meet the spiritual form of the sacrament. You may need to speak to a priest who works in that area of Cannon Law to get a better explanation.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • hello

          you don't need a myth salesman to tell you how to run your life... People need to take control of their lives and not let
          religious garbage.. dictate to them how to live.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Yes, that's officially what an annulment is....but it has always been for sale to a parishioner with enough money and influence.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • carol

      state it like it is. if you pay the church enough money (they call it a donation) your tribunal grants an annulment.

      November 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  2. SixDegrees

    "The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."


    November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Montecristo

      That is a nice thought. I like the concept, but like much of what Pope Francis says, it's ambiguous. We're all sinners and we don't want to become obssessive compulsive about whether to receive or not, but we should not receive Communion in a state of mortal sin. That's what confession is for. The Biblical basis for this is clear: 1Co 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

      November 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  3. G1298

    Faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26

    November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • OwMySkull

      "Grab a brew. Don't cost nothin'. " – Bluto

      November 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • SouthernCelt

        Every bartender or cashier I've met says otherwise.

        November 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Valentina

      "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

      November 26, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • hello

      faith leads you to be slaves to insane rules... that have no place in humanity.

      November 26, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Stevep44

      G1298:Faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
      Faith itself is irrelevant. Faith is simply believing something is true because you want it to be true. An infinite amount of faith is still the equivalent of nothing.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Old Time Catholic

    Francis you are such a breath of fresh air. You came along at just the right time.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • KR

      I agree 100%. Thank God for Pope Francis!

      November 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  5. Lester Singleton

    Its about time to see someone leading the church in a way that was meant for the church to be headed in the first place. Pay less attention to judging people, a task that the church and its people were never meant to hold in the first place, and start focusing more on caring for others, a task that is specifically given to everyone.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • KR

      Yes, I believe Pope Francis is the humble yet powerful & wise man who will lead the way toward healing the ailing Church!

      November 26, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  6. veep


    Evangelicals must be seething.

    Christianity can't even agree with itself.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Topher

      Seething over what?

      November 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • hello

        female ownership...

        November 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Charm Quark

    Bill Deacon wherever you may be, as I suggested before, take of your rosary and tear up your catechism, the changes that you maintained would never happen are coming right soon. Time to switch to another delusion.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Charm Quark

      off not of, sorry Dippy.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  8. longtooth

    I was born in the first half of the last century. I was raised as a catholic and left the church in my teens. This pope is so refreshing, he could be the one to save the church of Jesus Christ the Man. First he must survive the arrows and poisons of the entrenched Powers That Be in the Vatican and beyond. This is epic!

    November 26, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Bonnie

      Unless he denounces the trinity fantasy and admits the truth that our Almighty God is one God, and Jesus Christ is His true Son, and the Holy Spirit is God's holy character and power, the church will definitely NOT be saved. When Jesus told his disciples to go baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he was talking about character, of holiness and trueness. It is time for people who are sincere toward our wonderful God, to wake up and embrace truth. Please see Luke 11:13.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • HA25

        I do not think the word Truth means what you think it means..

        It does not mean arguing over different interpretations of a myth.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • JLS639

        If you are arguing about what Father, Son and Holy Spirit means, you are missing the point of the message entirely. The church could officially change its position on that every year for the next decade and I doubt most worshipers would care if they even noticed. That kind of talk is the reason for the splits after Nicea and the arguments between Christians and Muslims over Jesus. Let's argue about the color of unicorns while we are at it.

        Anything to keep interfaith cooperation on areas of agreement from happening...

        November 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • bczu

          Pffff a non white unicorn. Blasphemy!

          November 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • akmac61

        Which trinity fantasy, the one that you appear to buy into completely? That seems to be the only one around. The original "christians" were Jews who knew that Joshua, son of Joseph, was a man, not a deity, from actually knowing him. The Roman church subsequently took over and made him into a god for political reasons.

        November 27, 2013 at 5:19 am |
  9. snowboarder

    I was never so appalled as when I visited the Vatican and saw first hand the opulence and luxury amassed upon the backs of the faithful.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • King V

      That's a myth. Most of the relics and art etc are donations, either given or made for the Church. They arent going door-to-door asking for your Michaelangelo's...

      November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • snowboarder

        are you really going to pretend that the opulent lifestyle of the religious oligarchy over the past millennia was not supported by the "donations" of the faithful? I have a bridge you may be interested in.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • HA25

        I do not think you've been to the Vatican. The poster need not have been talking about the Vatican Museum. St. Paul's cathedral itself is a monument to opulence.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • hello

        those huge cathedrals were financed with sin taxes in the middle ages.. You do something against the church rules you pay a fine..You could even pre-pay for a sin... going to go and do something anti church.. you go in confess your plan.. you are given a bill and you pay... you are already given a get out of h3ll card.. before you even carry out your plan.
        its was all a scam.. then ..and still a scam now...

        November 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • SS

      Give God your very best!

      November 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • Stevep44

        Why? What would he/she/it do with it?

        November 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Richard

      Evidently, you have little understanding of the Church's history, or what it stands for.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  10. hello

    Caesar's Messiah.. The greatest discovery on the truth of the christian myth will bring down this myth.. once and for all.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • igaftr

      Not likely. Believers will always find reasons to believe their book, and ignore reality.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • hello

        The truth of the christian myth is growing... faster than the church and make its lame changes to combat it.

        November 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bill Smells

      Haters gotta' hate no matter what good comes because they don't know love.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  11. publicdole

    So anyone who violated the church rules before gets a ticket out of Hell? What a bunch of BS.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • John/kc

      When it comes to church doctrine, the Pope is infallible. I wouldn't want to be the Pope's new food taster, if you know what I mean. There is a history of bad food in the Pope's kitchen.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • LookandSEE

        When it comes to Church doctrine the BIBLE is infallible, not the pope, he is ONLY human!

        November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • snowboarder

          I do believe that church doctrine states that the pope is infallible when speaking on matters of the church.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • igaftr

          The bible is infallible?
          Not even close. It has many portions that have been proven false.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • HA25

          You need not go more than one page deep to see the Bible is fallible. On the First Day, God Created Light over the Earth there was Evening, there was Morning. On the Fourth – the "two great lights" Sun and the "other source of light" – the Moon were created... How many faults can you find with that?

          November 26, 2013 at 11:31 am |
        • SS

          The bible is a book, not a living authority. The Pope is a living authority.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Bonnie

          HA25, if you will read verses 14-16 in the first chapter of Genesis, the same first page you are speaking about, God clearly explains that the creation of two "great luminaries" were also for the purpose of serving as signs for seasons, and for days and for years, as well as actually perpetually dividing day and night. Remember, the sun and moon have magnetic properties as well, and they are not just for light. Compare to the big bang theory that scientists are quickly proving as fact.

          November 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • igaftr

          The moon is not a luminary. It emits no light. Furthermore, there is no seperation of dark and light. There is light, and in varying levels. Darness is simply the complete absense of light. They are not two seperate things, they are different levels of the same thing.
          Also, often you can see the moon during daylight hours. The moon has nothing to do with day/night light/dark. It is a rock.

          November 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • HA25

          Bonnie, I can't tell if you have many typos or not.
          Big bang that scientists is proving as fact? Yes. I suspect you meant False or Fiction – which of course is not true. Big Bang is still a viable theory and maybe the best, though the Big Bounce is an alternative. Neither requires a grand designer.

          I don't know if the sun or moon have magnetic properties but they do not have them in such manner as to greatly affect the fundamental movement of the earth. Your point there did not come across well. They have Gravitational properties – perhaps that is what you mean? But it doesn't change the fact that the order in Genesis is not valid according to the laws of nature. How do you explain light before the Sun?

          November 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • joe916

          1 Timothy 3:14 and 15
          (14) Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that,
          (15) if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation (hedraioma) of the truth.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • neoritter

          The Pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra. This is very rarely done though. Most (if not all) of the time the Pope says something it s not ex cathedra.

          November 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • ljjm

          LookandSee–The people who wrote the bible were only human, too.

          November 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • doobzz

      I received the first of many public humiliations for asking a nun that question when I was five years old. The answer is: You're a very bad child for questioning God and will go to hell unless you ask him for forgiveness right now.

      God hates questions.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Ian

        Man, that sucks for you. I remember in 2nd grade, I asked my teacher at my catholic school a question about one of the topics that we were learning in religion class. I told her specifically "I am not quite sure that I can believe that". She encouraged the question, and told me that one of the best things that we can do is to question our faith, reflect on our question, and when god answers our question satisfactorily that our faith will be far stronger than before for having gone through those trials.

        I am an athiest now, but not because I was angry at the church or any reason like that, I just saw no proof for, or need for a god.

        November 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • doobzz

          I'm an atheist now as well, but not because of her or things like that. My mom was a devout Catholic and we practiced our catechism questions, had daily rosary, etc. I grew up in an era that if you got slapped by the nun, you got slapped twice at home. So it was just normal for me. I stayed out of trouble most of the time. I don't think the same behavior would be tolerated now in parochial schools. Your teacher sounds awesome. I had a bible teacher like that, he told me not to just believe anything that anyone else told me about the bible, including him, but to confirm their words on my own. I ended up becoming a nonbeliever, which he accepted as my friend, and he eventually became a believer that everyone will go to heaven, that those who don't believe in Jesus during their earthly life will be taught by believers during the millennium reign and will accept him then. Of course they will have seen him by then, so why not, but I guess it's as good as any other biblical interpretation.

          Like you, I just found no reason to believe anymore. Peace and happy life.

          November 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Danny

      Well, the church already has that in place. It's called confession, followed by absolution.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      You're posting to tell everyone you didn't read the article? Or is the issue comprehension?

      He isn't changing what is and is not a sin. Not in the least. He's saying they should be more interested in spreading the gospel, and helping sinners, than in denying them communion and fighting culture wars and participating in politics.

      November 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Reality # 2

    If Francis wants to change the "business as normal", he would rewrite the Apostles' Creed as we now know it to be: (Would said new Creed vitiate his religion- yes but he is the one preaching openness and transparency. )

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    The Apostles' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (References used are available upon request.)

    November 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Aaron S

      Reality #2- As someone who has studied the bible at a secular university I want to let you know that your new creed sounds good until you study the historical facts surrounding the orgins of Christianity. The first letters of the NT church are within ten years of Christ death while plenty of eye witnesses (many new converts) were rapidly spreading it out from Jerusalem. Within two decades Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Empire and hundreds were being executed because the refused to renounce what they had witnessed before and after the crucifiction. None of this will prove that Jesus is the Christ, but most scholars (both Christian and non-Christian) will tell you that what you have posted is fiction not based at all on the historical facts we know.

      November 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Recommended references for those in search of the historic Jesus:

        o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

        2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
        – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

        30-60 CE Passion Narrative
        40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
        50-60 1 Thessalonians
        50-60 Philippians
        50-60 Galatians
        50-60 1 Corinthians
        50-60 2 Corinthians
        50-60 Romans
        50-60 Philemon
        50-80 Colossians
        50-90 Signs Gospel
        50-95 Book of Hebrews
        50-120 Didache
        50-140 Gospel of Thomas
        50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
        50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
        65-80 Gospel of Mark
        70-100 Epistle of James
        70-120 Egerton Gospel
        70-160 Gospel of Peter
        70-160 Secret Mark
        70-200 Fayyum Fragment
        70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
        73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
        80-100 2 Thessalonians
        80-100 Ephesians
        80-100 Gospel of Matthew
        80-110 1 Peter
        80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
        80-130 Gospel of Luke
        80-130 Acts of the Apostles
        80-140 1 Clement
        80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
        80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
        80-250 Christian Sibyllines
        90-95 Apocalypse of John
        90-120 Gospel of John
        90-120 1 John
        90-120 2 John
        90-120 3 John
        90-120 Epistle of Jude
        93 Flavius Josephus
        100-150 1 Timothy
        100-150 2 Timothy
        100-150 T-itus
        100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
        100-150 Secret Book of James
        100-150 Preaching of Peter
        100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
        100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
        100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
        100-160 2 Peter

         4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
        5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
        6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
        7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
        8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
        9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
        (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
        by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
        10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
        Presented on March 18, 1994
        11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
        12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
        13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
        13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
        14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
        15. D-iseases in the Bible:

        16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
        theologians, ethics, etc.

         17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
        18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
        19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
        20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
        21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
        22. NT and beyond time line:
        23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
        24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
        25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
        27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
        28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
        29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

        November 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Miguel

    I love Pope Francis. I think God has put him in the right place at the right time.

    November 26, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • me

      I agree, this Pope is awesome.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Once again for those who cannot face reality:

      Too little, too late- the pedophile horror has exposed Christianity's severely flawed history and theology

      November 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • ajk68

        The pedophile scandal has only proved the Church's dogma: all men sin and need forgiveness.

        November 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Angela

      I perfectly agree!!

      November 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  14. AE

    Looks like he is holding in a bong hit in the pic.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      They never say what's in the smoke.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • doobzz

        We were always told that it was the ballots and straw. Wet straw to produce the black smoke and dry straw to produce white smoke.

        I have my doubts.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • John/kc

        The Pope's word are a far cry from, our local Bishops in Kansas and Missouri that say over and over again that the poor and children don't deserve health care.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Paul

          Go Chiefs!

          November 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Guest

        yes, they do...it's incense. Everyone knows that...

        November 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Madtown


      November 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  15. naksuthin

    If this Pope doesn't shut up....even I might decide to convert to Catholicism.
    This is the first Pope who sounds more like Christ in the Bible than a finger wagging Hell fire legalist. Now let's see if he can convince the rest of the bishops and cardinals and lay folks...who only seem to want to talk about contraception and abortion...to turn their attention to helping families who are living in motels, sleeping in cars and waiting in line for free dental care.
    When Christ was asked what was the most important rule for a Christian he repied: " "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind", and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself".
    Not one word about abortion, contraception, married priest or women priests in Christs words.
    Sounds like this Pope is listening to the Bible for a change.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Miguel

      I wonder how the left will like his message of respect for life. To accept the teachings of Christ is to accept all of it and not pick and choose.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • snowboarder

        @miguel, there is no basis for that statement in history.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Miguel

          Abortion is an act of violence. Christ would have been against that. He was pro-life all the way. In fact if I recall this in the Gospel:
          But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • snowboarder

          @mig, it has been the habit of every denomination to "pick and choose". nothing about that will suddenly stop.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • K-switch

          And cutting open pregnant women and bashing the unborn's heads in is not an act of violence? OT God is cool with it.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • King V

          Snowboarder is a troll, quite a classic one at that. One line obsurd statements that are meant to sound informed/enlightened, but which are really just rehashed qasi-intellectual turds.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Flying Woodchuck

        Being less hateful then past popes isn't a hard standard to measure up to. Once he does something meaningful rather than saying something I might be impressed. Right now he is vastly less hateful in his speech then those he is following (there's still some there, but its a massive improvement). Time will tell, but I don't expect he'll be able to make any radical changes.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • Me

        I agree, Miguel, here is what the Lord said ... pick your side!:
        "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth".

        November 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
      • jesustheman

        change the world, so that women won't have to choose between children and surviving. bring the world in which caring for a child is valued and fully supported as the most important work. work for justice so that no child goes to bed hungry. fight for equality for everyone. then, no woman will choose to abort a baby.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • Treebeard


        I wonder how the "R I G H T" will like his message of respect for life. To accept the teachings of Christ is to accept all of it and not pick and choose.

        Fixed that for you free of charge.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • Danny

        He is not going to say that abortion is okay. Not now, not ever. BUT, what he IS saying is that you (collectively, not you in particular) should not judge those that have them. Only your god can judge, and THAT is in the bible. So, instead of hurting those that hurt others, you should help those in need, regardless of who they are, what they've done, or who they worship.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • akmac61

        Whose version of christ's words? No one who supposedly wrote a/the gospels ever heard him speak. There were no written records as the vast majority of people were illiterate, everything was passed on by word of mouth, not the most accurate method. The gospel of Thomas, which reportedly consists of Jesus teachings without all the embellishments, was specifically excluded by the church.

        November 27, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • jed clampett

      I sure hope that the power mongers don't take him out. Unfortunately it often seems to happen to those who take us forward in a positive way. Power and money only want the status quo.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  16. TheZog

    Since the rule for priestly celibacy and non-marriage is only 400 years old in a church over 2,000 years old, this might be an indicator that the Church may revisit the unmarried priest rule. This will be good for the church and attract more priests.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • HZD

      Where are you getting your information? The rule of priestly celibacy is WAY older than 400 years.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Miguel

      The early apostles had wives so I so no issue in allowing priests to marry.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • desertbrad

      I would point that we Eastern Orthodox have done just fine having married priests for all these centuries. At the same time, that is not to knock Francis...what a breath of fresh air and all of us Orthodox and Protestants should be listening.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  17. One thing the Church lacks

    18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

    20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

    21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    November 26, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • NeoKat1

      One of the most beatiful passages... If I can't leave everything for the Gospel, I must question my heart, my intentions, my purpose on this earth.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  18. Lawrence of Arabia

    Adding works to faith as the grounds of justification is precisely the teaching that Paul condemned as "a different gospel" (see 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6). It nullifies the grace of God, for if meritorious righteousness can be earned through the sacraments, "then Christ died needlessly" (Galatians 2:21). Any system that mingles works with grace, then, is "a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6), a distorted message that is anathematized (Galatians 1:9), not by a council of medieval bishops, but by the very Word of God that cannot be broken. In fact, it does not overstate the case to say that the Roman Catholic view on justification sets it apart as a wholly different religion than the true Christian faith, for it is ant.ithetical to the simple gospel of grace.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      So, what is the nature of faith?

      November 26, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        Faith is not just a mere "belief in" God, for even the demons believe, but are not saved. The nature of saving faith is an att.itude of repentance and a desire to glorify God in all that you do. One is not saved by their works, but their works naturally flow out of their salvation and aid in justifying themselves before others (James).

        For, if man is saved by works, then the doctrine of election, and the sovereignty of God are no longer true. And if we do not have a sovereign God, who ordains everything according to the council of His own will, then we have no God at all.

        November 26, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          So it is your God's will that you should work and do good things. Is it possible for you to have this "saving" faith and not do your God's will?

          November 26, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          "... we have no God ..." Finally you get it.

          November 26, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          So it is your God's will that you should work and do good things. Is it possible for you to have this "saving" faith and not do your God's will?
          God does will that we do good to others as well as love God – for that is the essence of the law. However we are sinners, and sinners serve God imperfectly, so many times we do fail to "do the right thing." What we learn in James is that if one has a consistent lifestyle pattern of not "doing the right thing," then that could be evidence that they are not saved.

          By no means are we justified by our works, but they do act as evidence to others of the authenticity of our faith, since no true believer's life will be marked by a lifestyle of ungodliness.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • magnum12

          St. James said that faith withiut works is dead meaning that we are saved by the grace of Christ after all we can do ourselves.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • whatwhat


          18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Charm Quark

          What are you afraid of, a little compet!tion on your end of the scam.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          1)James has already stated that salvation is a gracious gift (James 1:17-18) See also: 1 Peter 1:3
          2)James quotes Genesis 15:6 which claims that God credited righteousness to Abraham solely on the basis of his faith (James 2:23)
          3)The “works” that James said justified Abraham was his offering up of Isaac (Genesis 22:9, 12), an event that occurred many years after he first exercised faith and was declared righteous before God (Genesis 12:1-7, Genesis 15:6).
          4)Therefore James is emphasizing the vindication before others of his claim to salvation. God knows if our faith is genuine or not, but for others, it takes the manifestation of works that naturally flow out of a saving faith to prove to them that our salvation is genuine.

          Here's another proof that salvation is an act of God alone, this time from the actions of Jesus…
          Mark 10:13-16 – And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

          1)Jesus never blessed those who are cursed
          2)Jesus never pronounced a blessing on anyone who did not belong in His kingdom

          Here, Jesus identifies people as a part of His kingdom who could do absolutely nothing to earn it, this then becomes a powerful demonstration that salvation is by grace alone, not of works.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Yeager

          I don't recall agreeing to those terms.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • whatwhat

        Exactly. While salvation is based on faith alone. To say that faith is belief alone is incomplete. One cannot separate the proof of belief from faith itself. Just look to the new testament greek itself.

        November 26, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Bonnie

        The nature of faith is accurate knowledge of God, actually knowing Him, how wonderful He actually is, which causes us to trust Him completely. So very many have been misled to love and trust the church, which is run by mankind and does not serve the intended purposes of God. One needs to study the teachings of God's trusted and faithful Son, Jesus Christ, found in the book of John in the Holy (incorruptible) Bible; Jesus was sent to us to bear witness to the truth. John 18:37.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • hello

        ignorance and fear instilled by fake supernatural tales..

        November 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Stephen

      He's saying go out and do work even if it gets you dirty and tired. Your salvation comes from your faith not the church. Your redemption and grade sheet by which you're scored comes from the work you did and the ones who you helped that could not help themselves.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • hello

        there is no salvation.. we all rot and to back the earth like all the other life forms on this planet..

        November 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • IronCelt

      But what about the verse from the gospel of John (14:12), where Jesus says that "whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do," which suggests that if you really do have faith you will automatically want to serve the poor, etc.?

      November 26, 2013 at 10:56 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        In John 14, Jesus was telling his disciples that they, and those who followed after them would be involved in a ministry of salvation, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they would preach the message of salvation to an even greater audience than He did.

        And yes, you've hit the nail on the head – salvation is about getting a new nature... We are still sinners, but we now desire to glorify God, and part of that is in giving to the poor, etc.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Charm Quark

          What a pompous a$$ you are telling everyone how to interpret the book of myths and the words the writers put in jesus mouth and you are carrying on that great tradition. It was fiction 2000 years ago and still is.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "What a pompous a$$ you are telling everyone how to interpret the book..."
          I'm not "interpreting" the text – I'm simply reading it straightforwardly.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Charm Quark

          What we learn in James...What you mean is ...What "I" learned in James, you are attempting to impose your interpretation of the nonsense on others, are you not?

          November 26, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Byron

      34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Lastknown

      It really bothers me when someone from another Christian faith tells me that my faith, Catholicism, isnt true Christianity. My response how old is your church? Mines over 2,000 years old and was founded by an apostle of Jesus Christ himself, what you got? How much of your Church is based upon the works mine set forth? Oh 99%, and we are the unpure ones? Now dont get me wrong, in reality I dont think my Church is anymore right or wrong then yours nor do I think its perfect...heavens no. But the arrogance of your statement astounds me. As if you, or some group of people who founded yoursect had some insight on the teachings of the Bible that makes them so much better then the Church who was founded by an Apostle and given he keys to the kingdom of heaven. I welcome other interpretations and I think that all my Protestant brothers and sisters are equal in the eyes of the lord no matter what path they choose, so give me the same courtesy and cut out the sin of pride and arrogance from your heart when you make such statements.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • HA25

        "... But the arrogance of your statement astounds me. " "...the Church who was founded by an Apostle and given he keys to the kingdom of heaven."

        Sir – you managed to be contrite and VERY arrogant all in the same statement. YOUR church has 'the keys to the kingdom of heaven" – and is the only one. How is that NOT arrogant? How does that not imply that others will not get into heaven?

        Don't get me wrong – I don't care. I think you all are crazy – arguing over differing versions of Myths. Santa Clause/ Saint Nick. Either way at least he brings gifts.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • Steve Morgan

        have you even considered for a second that you've been misled by the catholic church about peter being the first pope? are you afraid to explore the internet and read other points of view? there is volumes of information that totally disputes the catholic church's claim that peter was the first pope... check it out and escape the lie that is the catholic church.

        November 27, 2013 at 8:57 am |
        • SouthernCelt

          Everyone has their own point of view. Easy to see where yours comes from. Try reading the Gospel instead of burning it.

          November 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  19. phoenixruth

    Bruised, hurting and dirty. Isn't that what they've currently got?

    November 26, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Miguel

      Nothing compared to what Christ suffered. Francis knows what he is doing.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:04 am |
      • doobzz

        So is he planning to sell off the billions the RCC has in looted treasure over 2000 years and help the poor, as he is recommending everyone else do?

        November 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • jed clampett

      No ruth they have posh living and privilege.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  20. Lawrence of Arabia

    "In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated."
    I'm afraid that until the church recognizes sola scriptura, they will always be bound up in traditions that "have no connection to the heart of the Gospel."

    The worst of them being the idea that justification follows sanctification. This idea, concreted by the Council of Trent, 1545 to 1563 said:
    "To those who work well unto the end, and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered."
    And "It is given as a reward, promised by God Himself to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.”
    Salvation in the Catholic Church is something that one earns “By those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life."

    This is in total contradiction to the word of God. No works done by the believer can redeem him before God; no priest has the power to forgive sins, and no indulgence bought can hold back the due punishment for sin. God’s Word says that “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight;” we are justified to God as a gift by grace through faith in Jesus. Indeed, we are justified by faith apart from works of the law.
    (Romans 3:20-31, Romans 4:1-25, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:6, 11)
    And Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    In other words, if the Pope wants to rid the church of traditions that hinder the Gospel, he's got a LOT of work to do.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Observer

      Lawrence of Arabia,

      The mass murderer of 22 people is in heaven now if he was sincere in his beliefs at the end.

      The nicest person who ever lived, but never heard of Jesus is in hell now.

      Makes sense. But only to believers.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • King V

        In fact, the Church teaches that the "nicest person who ever lived but never heard of Jesus" may still, by the grace of God, be in Heaven.

        Once people bother to learn and understand what the Chruch actually teaches (and, of that, what is Dogma and what is discipline) and not assume, the better off the conversations can be. Until then, when myths are considered fact (and there are many myths about what the Church teaches) nothing can advance.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • HA25

          "Until then, when myths are considered fact "...

          Truer words from a believer have never been spoken.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • bob

      Blah, blah, blah...

      November 26, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • HenryB

      Why do you keep obsessing on the true Christian and accept that there are Christians who are different than you, the pure? If everybody was the same "Christian" as you see the Christian, then we would not have different churches. I suggest you stop judging others and rather focus on your own mortality and your relationship with God.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        The article is on Catholicism reforming some of their traditions – I was merely restating the case of the reformers.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Byron

        Christ established only one Church. Matt 16:18 "18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." All the other churches are human constructs.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Gingerspal

          The verse before the one you quoted has Jesus asking Peter, " '. . .who do you say I am?' ".Peter answered, " 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God' ". The rock, many would say, is the faith that Peter displayed to Jesus and is upon which the foundation of the church rests. Or the Rock is Christ himself as he is portrayed in other new testament verses. The earliest church was by no means a solid monolith of belief. Each small gathering and later the various congregations practiced differing rites. As soon as the hand of man was involved in the "religion" of the early church, it became corrupt. Jesus, saying that he would base his church on Peter's faith, knew that Peter would deny him and many of the apostles would flee in fear after the crucifixion. The early church was to be based on faith and not on any one imperfect man. The eastern rite churches consider themselves a part of those earliest of gatherings, having great leaders, though some differing beliefs. Incidentally, eastern rite bishops and elders were often referred to as "pope" or father. So many of the earliest so-called Christian churches had different rites and beliefs; were led by bishops, patriarchs, or popes – not all under, what has become, the apostolic succession of the bishop of Rome. It may be comforting to believe that you have the one true church started by Jesus Christ, but IMO it's just not that linear. I believe that many christian churches are struggling to have faith and trust in God and the Son of God, though all are failing to some degree because we are imperfect human beings. This belief is less comforting, but, I think, truer to whom we are as a people. Progress, not perfection.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • xelapaul

      I suggest you read the remainder of Ephesians 2. We were designed for good works which are the result, not the cause of salvation.

      November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia


        November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • SouthernCelt

        If you want to be Aramaic about it, the would be Yeshua, not Joshua. Joshua was Mose's disciple and lived hundreds of years before Yeshua was born.

        November 27, 2013 at 12:37 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.