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. WASP

    i love how religious people enjoy encluding everyone else in their beliefs that don't share their beliefs.
    it's excellent!

    christian: we are all not worthy, we are all deserving of hell because we are sinners.
    atheist: so where do i fit in that; seeing i don't share your beliefs?
    christian: no but you will be judged also when you die.
    atheist: really? how so? i follow no god and read no scriptures outside of recreactional studying?
    christian: because we all sin, so we all have to accept jesus to live.
    atheist: *scratches head* again how does that apply to people that don't follow your beliefs? say like buddists.
    christian: (rinse repeat)

    November 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Cal

      There is only one way to the Father and it is through the Son Jesus- the Bible.

      November 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • Madtown

        "What about me? I've never heard of this Jesus person."

        – signed, your human brother who God placed in a world region where christianity doesn't exist

        November 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
        • lol??

          God is able to judge in that situation just fine and with help from the believers!

          November 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Cal

          thanks lol- mad is really hung up on the possibility that someone on a deserted island might now get to know about Jesus

          November 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • Madtown

          What's maybe most ironic and hilarious about people like this, is the fact that had they been born in another culture(something completely out of their control), they would not be christians. Cal, are you American? Assuming so, what if God had decided to place you by birth in Egypt? You'd then likely be a full-on muslim, and would believe christians follow a false path. Funny!

          November 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • doobzz

        You are welcome to your opinion. It doesn't apply to everyone. Just because you believe in a book that's been rewritten and retranslated to suit the desires of rich, powerful men doesn't mean that I have to.

        Your religion is just one of thousands, and everyone thinks theirs is the right one.

        November 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • Cal

          see you can do what you want to as I previously said- the really interesting thing is that we will all find out the truth in the not too distant future -the truth about where we will spend eternity- where you will spend eternity. That is the end game to use one of the new "in" phrases.

          November 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • doobzz

          "the really interesting thing is that we will all find out the truth in the not too distant future -the truth about where we will spend eternity- where you will spend eternity. "

          Really? and how do you know this? Your old book? Jesus said he'd return before the generation he lived in was gone. Guess he's either a liar or he's dead, just like you and I will be.

          November 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Cal

          He didn't know when he would return- only the Holy Father knows when resurrection day will come.

          November 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
        • doobzz

          Then why did he say that if he didn't really know?

          He also said, "I and the Father are one." How did he not know it he is also the father?

          November 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • Cal

          you really don't know your Bible very well do you. They are one- 2/3 of the trinity – But Jesus also said that only the Holy Father knows when the day of resurrection is coming. There is no conflict in the statements. But of course you are welcome to knock yourself out . You are another of those that sneeze at a gnat and swallow a camel apparently

          November 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
        • doobzz

          Well aren't you the arrogant one? I've studied the bible for over fifty years, in Hebrew, Koine, Greek, Latin, Aramaic and English.

          But you didn't answer the question. If Jesus said "I and the father are one", how does he not know what the father knows? Does the trinity have three heads with separate, independently functioning brains? If Jesus is god, then he is omniscient and knows everything, including when he returns to earth.

          You also never answered why Jesus said, in reference to his second coming "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

          Why did he make that prediction if he really didn't know?

          November 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
        • Cal

          Jesus was here on earth and God was still in heaven when he said it- you know Jesus never told me why the Holy Father is the only one to know the date of that occurrence; perhaps you can ask Him when we get to heaven.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
        • doobzz

          In other words, you can't explain why the bible contradicts itself, why Jesus lied about his return, and you admit that Jesus isn't omniscient, therefore he can't be a deity. You can't answer the simplest questions about your bible, your god or your beliefs, but you expect me to believe them because you say they are true.

          You've been all over the comment section preaching and acting pious and superior, but you can't even answer the most basic questions about what you base your entire belief system upon.

          And you had the arrogance to say that I've never read the bible. You're a laughingstock.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  2. Johnny5

    It's all outdated bunk that no longer applies and the pope knows it.

    November 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Cal

      come on in Johnny- the water's fine- and you might learn something

      November 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • Abused

        Jonny has that one right. Too many children abused by this filthpit. More so, brainwashing children is child abuse and we need to end that now. Hell, calling them sinners, telling them they have original sin.


        November 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Cal

          Do you have any idea what the love of God could do in your life? How it could change that prideful, angry spirit into one of love and thankfulness? I pray that one day you will find the God that loves you so.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • lol??

          Original sin is just an explanation; some use it as an excuse. You will be judged on YOUR sins. You own em.

          November 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Cal

          Why don't you pray for Jesus to explain how the trinity works? You don't seem to have a grasp of it. God the father knows stuff that Jesus doesn't know, but he says in the bible "I and the father are one". How does that work?

          And what about the poor holy spirit? All he does is flit around trying to avoid the tongues of fire and making people babble. He's the redheaded stepchild of the trinity and gets all the crappy jobs.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • doobzz

        Yeah, like how to cover up crimes and stuff.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    "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.", the pope said.

    The pope wants to admit persistant sinners into the sacrament, the so-called weak. Yet, the correct understanding of the Lord's Supper is the following: It has two aspects: Forgiveness AND deliverance. If we struggle with an intractable sin we should never abandon the struggle, and finally make use only of the atonement character of the sacrament '(Catholic Euacharist) but we should never abandon the struggle against the sin, and search for forgiveness AND deliverance. God wants to forgive and to deliver. God wants to make us strong – from the weak state to the strong state.

    This is the great lie of Catholic Eucharist that it reduces the sacrament to a mere atonement, and neglects the deliverance. We will only come through at Jugement Day and get into heaven if we have made use of both sides of the sacrament: forgiveness AND deliverance. No forgiveness without improvement of life!

    November 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jeff

      You've taken it upon yourself to define what the pope means by "weak". … to you that is "persistent sinner". Obviously you are perfect, you don't sin, you don't make mistakes, you feel no shame, no weakness. It is your job to instruct the flock based on your own interpretation … because you've dedicated your life to study of Catholicism, and you were deemed by all the cardinals to be worthy of the highest seat in the catholic church … how does it feel to be so infallible? Are you familiar with Pride (Hubris) … its one of the 7 deadly sins … you should look that up.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        The pope means persistant sinners with the word weak because he says that everybody should be admitted into the sacrament,

        November 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Rainer Braendlein

          "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.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Cal

        Thank Jeff

        November 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Mrs. Buttersworth

      Are you as obnoxious and as much of a pompous as's IRL, as you are here ?

      November 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Nothing good, Abused

        OK, priest

        November 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      As with a lot of the NT, the Last Supper is a myth.

      For example:


      An excerpt:

      "At the same time, Luedemann concludes that the portrayal of Jesus celebrating such a ritual on the night before his death is not historical. He is clear that there is "no generic relationship" between any actual final meal and the Lord's Supper understood in cultic terms. He also denies the Passover character of the supper as a Markan creation. Like Meier (below), Luedemann does accept the saying (Mark 14:25) about drinking wine in the kingdom of God as authentic. He concludes: (this saying) "hardly came into being in the early community, for in it Jesus does not exercise any special function for believers at the festal meal in heaven which is imminent. Only Jesus' expectation of a the future kingdom of God stands at the centre, not Jesus as saviour, judge or intercessor."

      November 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Cal

        I think I prefer the reading of the scriptures over the 2 folks you mentioned

        November 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          For those interested in finding the historic Jesus, some recommended references:

          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 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Cal

          I am most impressed with your list of reference books and with your interest in the subject of Jesus- can I therefore surmise that for most of us the KJV of the Holy Bible is not good enough or complete enough to give us the picture of Jesus and what his Father looks like from the works of Jesus? However, many, if not most of us, do not have that extensive a library and so have had to rely on years of both reading the scriptures, listening to sermons, reading bible study lessons and praying over them all. Of course I left out commentaries that I particularly enjoy and trust. But I will certainly keep your list in mind in the future.

          November 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • Mrs. Buttersworth

          You forgot Dr. Richard Carrier. Jebus never existed. There is no way to distinguish between the Jebus of the gospels and the one Philo (a Jew) was already writing about BEFORE the time of Yeshua ben Josef.

          November 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Some added comments for those looking for the historical Jesus:

          From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

          "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

          “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

          “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

          “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

          I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

          See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

          Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

          Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

          There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

          See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

          From ask.com,

          "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

          Then there are these scriptural references:

          Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

          November 27, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Cal

      Improvement of life- to your satisfaction I presume?

      November 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    "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 pope is a liar. The truth is that we have to do certain steps when we approach God, and his true Church. For instance, a fornicator should stop fornication if he wants to join the Church. A greedy man should start to help the poor. A persistant fornicator or a greedy man, they should not join the Church. Only if they have the will to change they should join the Church. The Church welcomes sinners which are willing to repent.

    Of course, outside the Church, we as Christian have to love our workmates, classmates, neighbours, etc. despite their sins; that is the mystery of the Gospel. Only if someóne wants to join the Church, we must require him to change through Jesus' power.

    November 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "The truth is that we have to do certain steps when we approach God"

      Let me guess, is it the Fox Trot? Or maybe the forbidden dance... The Lambada! One, two, three, One, two, three, One, two, three...

      November 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Observer


      It's always VERY ENTERTAINING to hear from someone who claims they know more about the Catholic religion than the Pope. Well done.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        I only know something about the religion of the New Testament, and some of the worst failures of the Catholic religion.

        One of the worst failures of Catholic faith is Catholic Euacharist because they have reduced Jesus sacrifice to a mere atonement. Every Sunday the sacrifice Jesus again in form of the host, and they assume the could keep on sinning because Christ is sacrificed again and again. That thorougly demonic.

        The pope is the forerunner of the Antichrist. Maybe this pope is the Antichrist himself.

        November 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Observer

          Rainer Braendlein

          "The pope is the forerunner of the Antichrist. Maybe this pope is the Antichrist himself."

          Good one.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • midwest rail

          As usual, delusional idiocy.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Cal

          wow- you are pretty scary

          November 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Spoken as one suffering from being Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Lutheranism. RB's commentaries ooze of Martin Luther's precepts.

      November 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • Reject Religious Fairy Tales

        In 2013, they ooze of mental illness.

        November 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  5. Cal

    We as Gentiles owe so much to Paul for his wonderful conversion, testimony, missionary trips and many of the books of the N.T.

    November 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I don't find Paul that compelling. He seemed rather self rightous.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Cal

        You really should read his books and especially Acts to realize that we might not be here- would not have the opportunity to know Jesus were it not for the wonderful selfless life he finally led teaching Gentiles and glorifying his heavenly Father.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I have, it is not compelling. Neither is Jesus for that matter. Take the claims of his palor tricks and he had some positive things to say but nothing worthy of a divinity. He did not have an original thought in his head philosophically speaking. The "golden rule" is older than jesus. I expect better from an actual god. He also had some really bad advice.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • Cal

          one day you will meet both Jesus and his father- I suspect you will be too busy kissing the earth as will we all to notice the love on his face in spite of your distorted view of Him- He loves you in spite of yourself and you can't deal with that fact

          November 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


          My view is not distorted, you just choose to ignore that which is doesn't make sense. My view, my questions come right from the claims of Christianity. Just because you cannot reasonably answer the problems with the dogma does mean MY view is distorted.

          November 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Jeff

      Paul is not Christ. We are not Paulians … we are Christians. He is a far and distant second to Jesus. There were other evangelists at the time that were not included in the bible because their words did not serve Emperor Constantine, but even he couldn't exclude Christ from Christianity … you may want to focus a bit.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Cal

        wow Jeff- how do you know my heart from that post? My love is to Christ for what he has done for me ; but as I get older and reda more of the scriptures I am amazed by the loyalty and persistence of Paul who wrote so many books of the NT

        November 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Are you


    November 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Prime

      This is one of the most disturbing things I gave read lately.

      The Pearls deserve to be punished in the same exact manner they advocate for disciplining children.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Are you

        yeah there is a peti-tion to get Amazon.com to quit selling the book.

        November 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

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

    This statement of the pope is a nonsense, of course. Actually crucial is that an evangelizer tells the truth, no more no less. The truth is that joy and happyness have something to do with love of neighbour and righteousness. We cannot act badly against our fellow human beings, and expect to remain happy. When we act badly persistently then we will become sad. Reason: The more we act badly the more we forsake the sphere of life which is God himself (God cannot endure when we act badly against our neighbour because God promotes the life of all people). Outside God rule the powers of death and destruction, and take hold of us when we act badly. They rob us our the power of life, and will finally destroy us.

    Hence, before we become happy we have to become sad. We have to regret our sins, all our bad deeds against our fellow human beings and against God. If we believe that Jesus has borne our sins on the cross, and resurrected for our justification, we will be forgiven, and delivered from the rule of sin, the sin gets dethroned. If we daily believe that we have died for the sin, and entered Christ through Jesus sacrifice and sacramental baptism then we will overcome the lust of our body, love God and our neighbour, and become happy. Through Jesus' sacrifice we return into the confident community of God, the Father.

    Don't assume that there is any mean to make you happy without repenting or regreting your sins. To do penance is absolutely necessary.


    The one who tell us that we could do badly or sin, and be happy at the same time, is the Antichrist or his forerunner.

    November 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Are you

      this far out there too RB ?

      Another couple found guilty of murder for parenting by "To Train Up a Child"

      November 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      2 Timothy 2: 19: And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Are you

      Wow RB a bible quote.

      That answers that NOT.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Prime

      Stop your Catholic bashing and stealing free advertising space, Rainer.

      Every one of your statements is nonsense, of course.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  8. Susan StoHelit

    As an atheist – this is a guy I can respect.

    I don't believe what he does – but unlike most in the Catholic (AND Christian) hierarchy, he seems to actually believe the best parts of his religion, and lives it. I don't expect the church to change it's positions – they have what they think is wrong (abortion, same gender marriage, atheism) – but to treat it properly, as everyone's choice, rather than something they can force the world to change – that is all ANYONE should ever expect.

    That is how we all live and let live, when we all think someone else is wrong, and we all have others who think our choices are wrong.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Sara

      That always sounds nice as a naive little abstract, but the reality is that when people are beating their children or poluting or spewing racism you probably won't feel the same. We only say people should live and let live about things we really don't thing are that bad.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        Of course we should speak up about abuse, hurting other people. But for your own life (and no, children are not posessions, they have their own life and own rights), do as you will.

        We need to learn to accept that others think differently than we do, and rather than reflexively dismiss it, hate it, oppose it, because it's not what we think is true, consider if it hurts anyone other than the person with the belief for them to believe that. If it's not hurting others, then it's not something to oppose.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • Sara

          Agreed in theory with all that you said, but the problem is that in their "thinking differently" things like abortion and hom.os.exu.alityy do hurt others.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  9. Citizen

    Will Pope Francis renouce those Papal Bulls that involve hatred of Protestants, advocated murder, and gave themselves supreme power in the world? Will he accept blame for the crimes of the past? Or does all this get whitewashed in the "new way."

    November 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Margaret

      I'd prefer that they focus on the future and improving how things are going forward. While apologies are nice, there really isn't anything you can do to change the past so I hope he doesn't spend too much time or effort obsessing over it.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Cal

        I agree- good for you Margaret

        November 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • doobzz

        Right, why bother bringing those pedophile priests to justice, it's all in the past. Let's just forget about that nasty little piece of history and move forward. You kids who were abused are just whiners.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Prime

      Will the Protestants cease their "Catholics aren't Christian" propaganda campaign?

      November 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • Sara

        Protestants belong to hundreds of separate sects, the majority of which view Catholics as Christians. There is no "protestant" position...protestantism isn't a religion.

        November 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  10. Cal

    We are the pathway- we as committed Christians have been called to teach the word to those who know nothing of Jesus. The story continues 2,000 years later- pretty remarkable I would say.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • jim g

      religious garbage.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Cal

        What is also remarkable is that you continue to run so hard to get away from the God that made you in his own image.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Observer


          Yes, we continue to run away from the God who supports slavery, discriminations, beating children with rods, etc.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Madtown

      have been called to teach the word to those who know nothing of Jesus
      Good luck finding a lot of the people with no knowledge of Jesus. They may live in fairly primitive, remote regions that do not appear on Google Maps. You won't even know where to start looking. But...........God knows where they are, he put them there. Curious why you would be responsible for bringing them this message, and not him. Again, you don't know where they are, but he does.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • Cal

        We are called to show his light wherever we are- to bloom where you grow (if you will) there are many ways to witness the gospel- salvation comes not from our efforts but from the holy spirit

        November 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Madtown

          salvation comes not from our efforts but from the holy spirit
          Then, why are you "called to teach those who know nothing of Jesus"? If it has nothing to do with your efforts, why would you be asked to do it in the first place? You've gotten yourself all confused, it seems.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Cal

          We are called to teach the word to those that are lost- but it is the holy spirit that uses those words to convict the sinner's heart to accept Jesus as Lord- we don't save him the spirit does

          November 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Madtown

          We are called to teach the word to those that are lost
          No you're not, you only think you are. Again.....God would not call you to preach to someone, if you have no clue where that person lives. God would bring the message to them himself, he knows where they are. The notion that someone is "lost" because they don't follow your ways, is pure arrogance. Interestingly, they may think you're lost, because you don't follow their religion ways.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Cal

          I pray that some day someone will help lead you to the God of creation and to his son who loves you and gave his life for you.

          Be safe.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Madtown

          I pray that someday soon, you will recognize that God gave you the gift of a mind, and that your mind is designed to think logically and critically, to ask questions, and that you'll begin to use this gift. I pray you'll throw off the chains of the rhetoric and dogma that hinder you, throw off your arrogance in thinking the way you prefer is the "right way", and start to consider yourself equal to God's other human creations.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • Cal

          It most surely is the right way for me- but you have the right to choose for yourself. Please do by all means- I do not try and change your mind- I merely tell you my belief and yet it seems to upset you so that I continue to believe. By all means do what you will. I have nothing else to add for you.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • Madtown

          most surely is the right way for me
          Now you're starting to get it....it's the right way FOR YOU. For others, they may prefer another way. They are not wrong. The next step for you here, will be to stop threatening your human brothers/sisters with eternal penalty, all for not making a choice they're not aware exists. Many routes up the same mountain.

          November 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • Cal

          well see there you would be wrong again- you don't have to believe my words or the words of the Bible- and you can surely gamble with your life as to whether I am right or wrong- it is strictly your call- We all get to make that choice and I wish you good luck with your false theology or lack thereof

          November 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Madtown

          We all get to make that choice
          Who's wrong? Seems like it's you again. "We all" are not even aware of Christ's existence, so for some there isn't even a choice to be made. I am wrong, though........you're not starting to get it. You are the one "lost", in your own arrogance.

          November 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Cal

          have a nice day mad- why are you even on this site since you hate Jesus;God and the RCC so much- don't you have some better sites where you can really have a good time? Do you really believe that you are changing any hearts on here? Seriously? You hate this pope – we get that but many of us got on here to comment about how we like him. You truly seem to be mixed up and I am sorry that you are.

          November 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • Madtown

          why are you even on this site since you hate Jesus;God
          LOL! You're a comedian too. That's a stretch, hate. I "hate" none of those things, really don't hate anything. Believe in God, don't believe in religion, am not arrogant, consider myself equal to all other humans, even you.

          November 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • igaftr

      yes Cal they did send missionaries all over the world, bringing death and disease along with the "word", and even at times killing those who would not convert.
      The real history of spreading your "word" is far less than a success story.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • Cal

        The previous missionaries that you refer to were no less nor more human than are we- we and they continue to be sinful and to do things that displease our Lord- I can never defend the sins of another but certainly know that my sinfulness is my burden and cross that Christ lifted from me. that does not change the fact that Christ is the answer and that through him we can come to the father for eternity. Sin will always be with us until the lord returns- Christ was sinless. I am and will always be a sinner saved by grace.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • igaftr

          Frist, How is spreading your word a good thing when it cannot be shown to be true? The beliefs of the ones that listen are just as valid as yours...that is the arrogance of christianity.
          second, you are OK allowing someone else to take your just punishment...christianity...advancing poor morals for over 2000 years.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Cal

          wow- listen closely- it is not my word- it is the word of God about his son. Christ took my sins on calvary NOT Christianity- it is to Him entirely that I owe my life ,my salvation. The life that Christ displayed is meant to show us the character of his heavenly Father. There are many things that I do not claim to know about the mind of God but that is ok for me- but you may certainly continue to claim some of those tough questions as valid reasons for not accepting him as your creator, your God and the one who made you for fellowship with Him. Your call.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Science Works

          Cal my parents created me.

          Not some story about about a talking snake.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • doobzz

      It certainly is pretty remarkable that people still believe that 2000 year old fairy tales actually occurred.

      November 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  11. Thomas Je

    Please, anyone, tell me where in the world we can see ‘unfettered capitalism’ society wide? I cannot think of one. Governments the world over are in control through law and regulations (thousands from local to national levels that affect even the smallest of businesses, both direct and indirect), tariffs, taxation, education, and sometimes even in religion. True, many of these government interventions are due to businesses trying to use government power to their advantage, but that is hardly ‘unfettered capitalism’ or even something that can be labeled as capitalism. To say it has never worked is then totally incorrect. Anyone want to seriously answer what country uses ‘unfettered capitalism’ as their economic model?

    November 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Cal

      After the past 10 years of the economic meltdowns worldwide you would suggest that capitalism is fettered by governments??? Seriously?

      November 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • batman

      I have nothing to contribute to this conversation; I just want to say that I agree with you.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Most of the worst places in the world have unfettered capitalism. The governments are nonexistent, have no power, the few with money control everyone else, people work for slave wages or don't work at all. There's unfettered capitalism in many places – it's what we have been running away from for some time. You have to be ignorant of history or forgetful to not recall what happens with unfettered capitalism.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • Cal

        Especially the USA

        November 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Sara

      What they mean is "inadequately fettered capitalism".

      November 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  12. HolySmokes

    That's right. Every single human being matters. No one is measured by wealth or possessions. He is measured by his words, his character and his actions.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Madtown

      Every single human definitely matters. And, one is NOT measured by his/her preferred choice of religion. Choice of religion, if any, depends greatly on things out of our control, where we're born, etc.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If that is the case, and I agree with you, religion and belief in god(s) is useless to that end.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • Cal

        In the end- we all will be measured by whether we made that one single decision- did we accept Jesus as Lord. The word of God has led so many millions to Christ.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          And why should belief be rewarded or punished? Please explain why such a concept should be consided moral or ethical.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Cal

          We were all created by God- a holy God that desires fellowship with each of us. We are sinful by nature and God sent his son Jesus to earth to provide salvation to us all- to make us sons of God. The acceptance of Christ is necessary to achieve that salvation- we have the free will to choose to accept or not accept his gift to us. That it it in a nutshell- you have that choice- eternity with the Holy Father or eternity without Him- the absence of God.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Madtown

          that one single decision- did we accept Jesus as Lord.
          Please attempt to explain why God would measure a human that he created by this decision..........when God placed this human into an area of the world where they will NEVER learn anything about Christ!! How is that even possible? Person A has never heard of Jesus, but God will judge Person A based on Person A's decision regarding Jesus?!? If this makes any sense to you, you live in one wacky world.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • Cal

          And so your reason for not accepting Christ comes down to how could God ever isolate one single human being where he did not know about God?? Wow- pretty low bar.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Science Works

          Cal and maybe someday you will understand ?

          Scientists Find Brain Region That Helps You Make Up Your Mind

          The lateral habenula is considered one of the oldest regions of the brain, evolution-wise, the researchers say.


          November 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • Cal

          I think I like how I do my faith better than how you don't do yours.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Observer


          And not living in the times or places where people have ever heard of the Bible or Jesus has led BILLIONS to hell, according the loving God.

          November 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Madtown

          your reason for not accepting Christ comes down to how could God ever isolate one single human being
          You bet it does! I'm not so arrogant and deluded, to think that God would actually function in this manner. I actually think we are all created equal, that God treats us all equally. Unlike you, I don't consider myself special in God's eyes, relative to the other human beings that God also created. I think that what is good for them, will also be good for me. If God judges people on things that he's provided no option for them to even know about, then God is not worthy of praise. He's worthy of criticism. You're just too afraid to think outside of the box of religion, to admit these logical failures of religion. Low bar?! Arrogant fool. In my view, God isn't too pleased with you, that you so willfully throw away the gift of a mind that he gave you, and don't use it to think, as it's designed.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • Cal

          you have a nice day now

          November 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


          That is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

          1st a perfect god would not "desire" anything.

          2nd, acceptance of a cliam (Jesus is god) has not been proven. And requiring people to believe a claim on faith or suffer consequenses is neither moral or ethical.

          3rd, you didn't answer my question. You just reguritated Christian dogma. I KNOW what the dogma is. Quit being lazy and answer the question.

          4th, belief is not a choice. That is a lie Christianity spreads in order to make sense of the dogma. It is dishonest and I reject that out of hand.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Cal

          very simple- choose to believe Jesus is who he claims to be- or not One day though you and all of us will bow to him and confess him with our tongue but it will be too late

          November 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • Madtown

          very simple- choose to believe Jesus is who he claims to be- or not
          No, it's not that simple at all. For it to be that simple, all of humanity would have to be equally aware of Jesus and who he claims to be.

          November 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


          That is a childish argument, if your god needs my acknowledgement he will have to do better. I will not worship any god that rewards and punishes based on belief. You never answered the question and I am not surprised. You know deep down that doing so is not moral or ethical otherwise you would be able to argue that it is. Instead you just keep spouting bible verses.

          November 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • Cal

          No I keep telling you what my faith is in and what I believe. You are welcome to believe what you like. You want to hide behind concepts like morality and ethics and yet you don't recognize the greatest true morality story that played out in history in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. I believe in Jesus and what he did for me and all of when he died on that cross. There is no other reason I need to hold on to my faith. You on the other hand keep on deluding yourself. He will only wait so long OR you will run out of time and then your morality and ethics will be of no use to you ever again. Have a nice life.

          November 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  13. Jim R

    In other words, the dogma and pompous righteousness that is the Catholic Church is no longer credible as the moral authority for an advancing civilization that progresses from science, logic and philosophy. Religion is a man made manacle born from mythology during the infancy of our species but where even today, followers somehow convince themselves that death is an illusion and not a the reality. The universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not. We need to grow up.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • SS

      Don't you believe St. Paul's account of the empty tomb? Before his conversion, he would have agreed with you on the New Testament.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • doobzz

        Paul doesn't have an account of the "empty tomb". He wasn't there.

        If you believe in such things, of course.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  14. HolySmokes

    Right. You choose to be ignorant.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Jim R

      Ignorant is making an extraordinary claim without evidence. Death is real not an illusion and the belieing that death is an illusion is central to all religions. All religions are equally false.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • Cal

        But I believe in the death of this frail body of mine- I also believe however that I will be called to join my heavenly father for eternity. Jesus through Calvary has defeated death for all believers. It is in his word.

        November 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • doobzz

          And it's true because it says so right here in his word! See? The book is true because it says so right here in the book!

          November 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  15. HolySmokes

    iTo: gaftr
    "No...no one knows. There are a huge number of people that leap to an unjustified conclusion, and do a lot of mental gymnastics to continue convincing themselves, but we do not know still holds true.

    When people thank god for this and that, they do not know there are any gods, they do not understand that there are many other probale explainations for things, but they go straight to goddidit, since that makes them feel better, but it does not chnage the fact that NO ONE KNOWS if there are any gods.
    It is part of the self delusion nature of belief."

    Yes. They do know. Don't project your doubt onto others. Stop condemning the billions of people who believe in God to assuage your doubt. Hatefully accusing billions of people of being delusional because they disagee with you is sociopathic.
    You post and pronunce your FAITH and your CERTAINTY and your BELIEF that there is no GOD and attack others based on your FAITH by telling them there's no such thing as faith and certainty.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • igaftr

      No holy smokes
      If they knew , there would be no need for faith. The knowing would preclude faith.
      You are clearly looking at this wrong.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  16. Robert P

    The irony in the Pope's message is how it will be received, absorbed and more than likely, misunderstood by "devout" Catholics like William Donahue of the Catholic League and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. Yes, there are abuses in the Curia, the Papal Princes who bought their Cardinalship, as well as the pedophilia scandal of the Priests.

    However, Francis appears to be a Pope needed for this time period. Perhaps, going back to the basics – the "red text" in the New Testament, is what is both needed and required in today's world.

    We are the only species on this planet where the collective good of all takes a back seat to the individual need of the one.

    November 27, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • HolySmokes

      Which species on earth focuses on the collective good of all, praytell?

      November 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • SS

        Any animal herd. Watch National Geographic's Wild channel. Female meercats will kill their puppies if there are too many in the herd.

        November 27, 2013 at 12:59 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.