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The Pope’s bold new vision
Pope Francis during his Sunday Angelus address at St. Peter's Square in April.
November 26th, 2013
12:11 PM ET

The Pope’s bold new vision

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, Special to CNN 

(CNN) - Pope Francis on Tuesday issued a bold new document - in Vatican parlance an “apostolic exhortation” - called Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel.”

In this document, he sets out an exciting new vision of how to be a church. In all my years as a Catholic, I cannot remember a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating. Frankly, reading it thrilled me.

To me, it seems that with each new homily, address, interview, general audience message and letter, Francis is challenging himself - and us - with three questions, each of which flows naturally from the other:

First, why not look at things from a new perspective? Second, why not be open to doing things in a new way? And third, why not have a new vision for the church?

And what is Francis' vision for the church?

It is to be a joyful community of believers completely unafraid of the modern world, completely unafraid of change and completely unafraid of challenges. Not everyone will like this document. Some may find it frightening. For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo - explicitly: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way,’ ” he writes in a section titled “Ecclesial Renewal.”

The document’s overall message is that Catholics should be unafraid of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel and new ways of thinking about the church. In fact, such new ways are essential if we are to spread the Gospel at all. This may sound like boilerplate talk expected in a document on the “New Evangelization,” but it is not; for in the document Francis identifies areas of petrification in the church, areas where he wants to see real change.

This is not to say that the Evangelii Gaudium seeks to overturn traditional church teachings. Instead it seeks to overturn the way that we have done things, and to be fearless in doing so. For example, while he reaffirms the church’s inability to ordain women as priests, he also invites the church to think about their place in the church in new ways, to imagine “the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life."

Over and over, the Pope takes aim against such longstanding roadblocks to growth as “complacency,” “excessive clericalism,” and even Catholics who act like “sourpusses.” (That’s the official English-language translation.) About that last roadblock, he says that there are Christians whose lives are like “Lent without Easter.”

Nor does the Pope have patience for people who are “tempted to find excuses and complain.” Essentially, he contrasts this dourness and pessimism with the joy of living a life centered in Christ and focused on the hope of the resurrection. It is a hope-filled, positive and energetic view of the church actively engaged with the world.

Evangelii Gaudium is difficult to summarize, so wide-ranging is it. Ironically, something that would at first appear to be a narrow topic - how to spread the Gospel today - offers Francis the latitude to address many topics in his trademark open style. The exhortation moves easily from a discussion on joy as a requirement for evangelization, to how “personal dialogue” is needed for any authentic invitation into the faith, to the difficulty of being a church when Catholics are “warring” against one another, to the need for priests and deacons to give better homilies, to an overriding concern for the poor in the world - the last being a special concern of the Pope.

To that end, some will be surprised that Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church’s “preferential option” for the poor. “God’s heart has a special place for the poor,” the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope.

“None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” And in case anyone misses the point, after a critique of the “idolatry of money” and an “economy of exclusion,” the Pope says: “The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.”

What’s more, this does not mean simply caring for the poor, it means addressing the structures that keep them poor: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”

This joy and confidence needed to tackle these challenges - both inside and outside the church - is rooted and grounded in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Without that “personal encounter” with Jesus trying to spread the Gospel is useless. We must have what he calls a “constantly renewed experience of savoring Christ’s friendship and his message.”

Most Catholics will, like me, read the letter with enthusiasm. But some Catholics have criticized the Pope for trying to change too much in the church - even though no dogma has been altered. A few Catholics are not only beginning to critique him, but even worse, fear him. Change seems to be something to fear. As one of my Jesuit friends used to say, playfully, “I’m against change; even change for the better!” But the church must change if it is to grow - not in its core beliefs, but in the way that it lives out and shares those beliefs.

My advice to Catholics would be: Read the entire document. Take your time. Be generous with it. Let it excite you. Pray with it. And be open to the Holy Father’s call to “embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”

Finally, as Jesus said, “Fear not.” We can change the way we do things in the church - the spread of the Gospel demands it. So be confident in God’s desire for the church to grow and change. Besides, as Francis says, “Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand.”

At one point, Francis uses a famous quote from Pope John XXIII, who noted at the opening of the Second Vatican Council that many doubted things could change for the better. Too many people at the time - 1962 - were predicting doom and disaster for the church and for the world. But John disagreed. “We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster.”

Evangelii Gaudium is Francis’ own ringing response to prophets of doom.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is editor at large of America magazine and author of "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything." This article will also appear on America’s blog “In All Things.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (554 Responses)
  1. Ben Valelei

    Who killed Jesus? The pope and church. Mathew 27:1 So before all you priests tell others what to do, fix your problems first. For over two thousands years God and Jesus have been waiting for you guys to apologize to them for that Great sin. So please do it now before The king who comes in God's name reveals himself.

    November 27, 2013 at 2:50 am |
  2. Heavensent

    If not for man's inferiority to women, he probably wouldn't be so in need of admiration and power.

    November 27, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Heavensent

      God ain't stupid.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:22 am |
      • Apple Bush

        They r so dumb.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:32 am |
        • christiansteve

          It is a disorder. Thinking they have answers when clearly they don'TT, they hang on to utter nonsense for eternity. Like sixth graders

          November 27, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  3. Heavensent

    Man is sinful and needs salvation.

    November 27, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • HotAirAce

      You are delusional and need the help of a mental health professional. My accusation has as much evidence and credibility as yours.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:22 am |
      • Sara

        I agree Heavensent is delusional, but so is most of the world's population in one way or another, and delusions are not always harmful and very, very difficult to treat.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:27 am |
      • Heavensent

        Prove it. Sorry.
        Come back when u can or remain a lying fool. Your choice

        November 27, 2013 at 1:30 am |
        • HotAirAce

          You first.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:43 am |
        • Youtube - Neil deGrasse Tsyon - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Children, children...grow up.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • christiansteve

      Proof!

      November 27, 2013 at 4:27 am |
      • sam stone

        Observer asks endless silly questions and has never once provided an answer. She runs from reality thru never knowing anything except bitterness and hatred. Soon, when life is over, she will wake up and pray things had been different

        November 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  4. Boomer here

    Yes but... writing off women as priests is a bad idea. Nothing in the gospels says "Men Only."

    November 27, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Youtube - Neil deGrasse Tsyon - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Apply a gradual force, and you can bend a cold glass rod into a pretzel.

      I can only believe that he understands that everything has a breaking point, and that if he tries to change too many things at once, he will break the Church. If he can spark a new enthusiasm into the Church with these changes, then he may be able to address these more core beliefs. Only time will tell whether he is truly different. The closing of some churches is an undeniable sign of decline and it appears he is trying to address it.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:12 am |
      • Sara

        It's likely a no win situation. Society and knowledge are so fast outpacing change in the church it is just becoming irrelevant.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • Youtube - Neil deGrasse Tsyon - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          I don't know if it's quite that simple. Faith is very core to many people – something they are not willing to let go of easily. External change has been outpacing the Church for decades as you note, but harmful actions and policies of the Church have given people more of a reason to look closely to those external changes for answers to their questions. I think the decline of the Church (and Christianity as we know it) will continue, but that a slower rate and could see even see a minor resurgence in the near term due to this pope.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:51 am |
        • Youtube - Neil deGrasse Tsyon - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          that should be "at a slower rate."

          November 27, 2013 at 1:52 am |
        • Sara

          I was referring only to the Catholic church. Christianity as a whole is declining much more slowly and other sects and religions are picking up much of the slack where Catholicism is failing modern needs. Faith and religion are unlikely ever to disappear without significant changes to humanity.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • Amanda

      The Gospel was written and based on Church Tradition. Tradition came first. It is not just that which is written that we follow but by example of Jesus' unspoken practices, ie the appointment of male only Apostles.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:44 am |
      • hearties

        The guards were guarding the tomb, angels showed up and the guards fell to the ground. The women came up to the tomb and the angels told them to go tell the men that Jesus had risen. An apostle is someone that believes strongly, but when the women ran to tell the men, the men did not believe them and thought they were saying fairy tales. In this case, the women were better believers than the men, better apostles.

        What you can also see in this is that God had the option of sending angels to the men, but didn't. God has more than just 2 angels at his disposal. God intentionally only told the women, through angels that Jesus had risen, and had the angels tell the women to go tell the men... and the men didn't believe the women.

        This example shows either that:

        1. women are less credible witnesses than men
        2. men don't believe what their told as easily as women would believe
        3. God used the women, as he'd use anyone to send a message, regardless of them being male or female.

        I think it's #3.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • Zeke2112

          God is a perfect being, but has to use imperfect beings to send a confusing message at the most critical point of human salvation.

          Seems legit.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • igaftr

      Boomer
      "Yes but... writing off women as priests is a bad idea. Nothing in the gospels says "Men Only"

      You have not read Corinthians 14:34

      Women I suppose could be preists, but since they aren't allowed to speak in church, the surmons would be pretty boring.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  5. Randy Moore

    The most powerful thing a Holy Father can do is to change the conversation. Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air.

    November 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • brainwashed christians

      The pope is no more "holy" than my cat.

      November 27, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  6. whatever hic

    The prophets of God see you too. Good luck with the plan. You can put your mark on my behind of personalization. ha ha ha

    November 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  7. Bootyfunk

    the pope says a few flowery words but doesn't actually change church dogma or doctrine.
    a lot of hot air.
    actions count more than words or prayers.
    until the pope actually affects change instead of just talking about it,
    he gets zero points.

    November 26, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Sara

      The most likely change will be allowing more married priests, but we'll believe it when we see it. Unless they at least make that change they will not have enough credibility to carry out their other goals.

      November 27, 2013 at 1:38 am |
  8. Dr. Curt Schmidt

    There are common sense, pragmatic things one can do for the poor. The most immediate thing is that every Catholic in a position of authority in the corporate world can work to change the minimum wage, so that no one any longer has to work two and three jobs to provide for himself and his family.

    If the Church devoted one-tenth the energy to this effort that it has put forth on the culture wars, we would alleviate the misery of a level of poverty that should have no place in this prosperous nation. Note that a great many other wage levels are either pegged to, or affected by, the minimum wage, so a significant change upwards would likely affect the entire bottom two quintiles of the workforce.

    November 26, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      nail on the head.

      November 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Smeagel4T

    Ha! My initial impression of the picture was the Pope was shaking his carpet to get the dirt out. And in truth, I wouldn't put it past this Pope to be doing something like that himself. 🙂

    November 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  10. Bootyfunk

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/archaeologists-discover-site-where-desperate-jesus,34689/

    now we know what jesus really did from 12 to 30...

    November 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  11. Eric

    I have to give this pope credit. Even though he's the head of a thoroughly evil organization, he's definitely at least saying the right things to keep the RCC relevant in this century. People are becoming more and more turned off by the anti-marriage-equality, anti-g.a.y. rights, anti-contraception, anti-women's rights, and pro-kiddie r.a.pe positions of the RCC.

    November 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Sired Eric...

      What a positively astounding and rhythmic conceptuality of psychic 'anti' logistics...

      November 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • Lionly Lamb

        psychic... I meant psychotic...

        November 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • *

          *you calling anyone else psychotic is truly laughable.

          November 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Paul

      "Even though he's the head of a thoroughly evil organization..."

      What's your defintion of evil?

      November 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Eric

        Promoting kiddie r.a.pe. and molestation (moving the offending priests around for years, actively obstructing police investigations, etc.) for decades is my definition of an "evil organization." Telling impoverished people in third world countries to not use birth control so their families grow to a size that exceeds their ability to feed them is my definition of an "evil organization." Telling people in African countries with 20+% HIV rates to not use condoms is my definition of an "evil organization."

        November 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
        • Paul

          You gave me example of things you think are evil, but I asked for your defintion of evil. What is your defintion of evil?

          November 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • Mrs. Travis

          I agree but according to him, who are we to judge?

          Laughable to say the least!

          November 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • Mrs. Travis

          Clarity... I agree with Eric. Sorry Paul.

          November 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • Paul

          Mrs. Travis,
          All I did was ask a question. How and/or why do you disagree with that?

          November 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
        • Mrs. Travis

          Paul, I'm just saying I agree with Eric's definition of evil in this context. RCC has its problems.

          November 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
        • DEAN

          I agree with Eric. The Catholic Church has done everything possible to hide and cover up for these monsters that prey upon children in their trust. Paul if that isn't evil. i guess I don't know what is.

          November 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
        • Jnanabhikshu

          Eric,
          The Catholic Church has a membership of over 1.5 billion and a history of 2000 years. Over the years like any society consisting of human beings, the Church members, and even those in leadership have done evil things. But the Church's mission is to promote justice and love and the good news that God loves us and constantly asks us to change our evil ways and become good and holy. The Church, over the years, also has witnessed through thousands of self-less lives what it means to love others and be holy. Have a balanced and truthful view; it will do your soul good!

          November 26, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • Paul

          Mrs. Travis and DEAN,
          Both of you are missing the point. Eric did not DEFINE evil. He just gave examples of evil. There's a difference.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • Sara

          Evil actions are, by my definition, those knowingly done either with the intent of increase suffering in the world or with gross in difference to it as weighed against ones own desires. I think you will find most people operate from roughly this working definition, whether or not they are religious, though more consistently so when secular.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:51 am |
      • nelsonjones

        Eric:

        You are correct. If Francis really has a "Bold New Vision," and is really Christ's representative on Earth, he would attend to past wrongs committed by the Roman church and hand over all records of systemic cover-up along with the location of the child molesters (Priests, Bishops and even former Popes) so secular authorities could arrest and prosecute those who are still alive.

        He would also delete the Vatican bank, give assets within the bank to the poor and sell all riches (Art, Gold, Roman Church artifacts) to those evil Capitalists and give the money to the poor, as well.

        The fact he ignores the above suggestions and deflects focus upon such, away by addressing other issues is merely non-substantive, window dressing. This man, like every other who has held the Papal office, is a fraud.

        November 27, 2013 at 2:55 am |
        • fintastic

          If Francis really had a "Bold New Vision," he'd announce that god is just imagination and stop wasting time worshiping mythology.

          November 27, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  12. hearties

    Another article about a man, and a church wanting a man, and that women can't be priests talking about Jesus.

    The women ran back to tell the men that Jesus had risen after having been told such by angels... is any priest above that? Mary was told by an angel that she would give birth to Jesus and she told others... is any priest above that? A woman poured oil on Jesus before he was crucified, having done so to announce such ahead of time... is any priest above that?
    It is impossible to call a woman father... they have that too. A woman can teach her children all about Jesus, she is not limited from telling them the good news, or anyone else for that matter. Women should tell people about Jesus, because if they hadn't before, where would we be now?

    November 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • TC

      I do like how you clearly point out the imporant role of women during Jesus' life. Yes the Church is half woman and needs to be since woman and man are both in God's image but the role of priest is somehting Jesus did not change nor did he open up all roles for both male and female.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • hearties

        Jesus speaking:

        Mat 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

        Looks to me like Jesus invited women to help out. They certainly helped out before, during and after he was there with them. I don't see any issue with a woman reading the gospels to others, or saying she believes Jesus.

        November 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          help out? haha. the bible says women are to be silent and never to teach a man. women have never been leaders in the church. their roles in the bible are either the temptress or a submissive wife - some choice.

          November 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
        • hearties

          The women told the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead, and the apostles (men) didn't believe them.

          God can use anyone he wants, to teach others. If God tells a woman to tell others about Jesus... so be it.

          November 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • Mary Magdalene

        And yet there was me.
        Paul gave that edict, not Our Lord.

        November 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • edmond kwan

          Paul was recruited to try and fix up the mess of the Eleven who did not believe Magdalene's( your) message on resurrection morning. Indeed, it is women who first saw and touched the risen Christ...it is just that the boys can't get over that, and hid the fact they disobeyed the command to go to Galilee on resurrection morning so that Jesus had to come back to Jerusalem via Emmaus to speak to them one that first evening.
          Did they disbelief the message because it was passed on to them by women? Especially a woman like Magdalene, who shamelessly anointed the Lord twice with expansive perfume publicly? Mary Magdalene .. the one whom Jesus said, wherever this gospel is preached, what she has done will be spoken of. ""

          November 29, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  13. Mark

    American Conservatives? Hey! Are you going to call him a socialist or Muslim? He's saying liberal, truly socialist stuff. Far more brazenly socialist that Barack Obama ever has uttered.

    It goes to show that America's unfeeling Conservatives are on the wrong side in their support of brutal capitalism and elimination of social programs. Even the leader of the world's largest Church agrees!

    November 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  14. bostontola

    Ho.mose.xuality is a sin but slavery is not a sin. Do any Christians have a problem with that?

    November 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps they do when slavery is bondage and discipline – same sex of course.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Real eyes realize real lies for the eyes are useless when the mind is blind…

      Slavery… It works better when you don’t tell them…

      November 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • Akira

        Because plainly people are too dumb to figure out they're slaves?

        November 26, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  15. Mrs. Travis

    Again I pray this Jesuit doesn't fall prey to world domination in his quest to bring an end to poverty. While his intentions ate admirable his choice of associates is questionable.

    November 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      His choice of 1 inch lexan for a podium is wise.

      November 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • Paul

        It's a lectern, not a podium.

        lectern: : a stand that holds a book, notes, etc., for someone who is reading, speaking, or teaching

        podium: : a raised platform for a speaker, performer, or the leader of an orchestra

        November 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
        • Mary Magdalene

          Did you not know what he meant?
          Is nit-picking a trait of yours?

          November 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
        • Paul

          I knew what he meant. I was just simply pointing out that he used the wrong word.

          November 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Mary Magdalene

          I take that as a yes.

          November 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Sired Mrs. Travis...

      The RCC is much like a teacup in that its' tealeaves can only be serviced with just so much water before a new batch of leaves carrying the same branding but different bags tied together with a long winding length of roped wisdom...

      November 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • Mrs. Travis

        Sired what?

        I wasn't referring to teabags I assure you.

        November 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Lionly Lamb

          Mrs. Travis

          "Sired what?"... Aren't we all..?

          "I wasn't referring to teabags I assure you.
          Mrs. Travis

          Sired what?

          "I wasn't referring to teabags I assure you."..

          Aren't we all but teabags..?

          November 26, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • Mrs. Travis

          Now THAT'S funny!

          Just never thought of myself as sired or a bag. Maybe we should send that one to the pope to add to his list of things to do while seeping his tea.

          November 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  16. GOOD NEWS

    Only a Real GOD can bring the real Joy, Peace and Justice for the humanity.

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    November 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Did you

      See this. and the pope tweeted send prayers, not water or money.

      Atheist Billboards Declare Prayer, Bibles Not Helping Disaster Victims

      http://news.atheists.org/2013/11/25/disaster-relief/

      November 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Did you

      Not GOOD if this is all the Bishops can send !

      While at least $300 million has been pledged by nations around the world to help survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, a billion-dollar non-government organization, has responded to the disaster by sending 1,000 bibles and 12,000 rosaries to survivors, according to CBS News. Additionally, the Pope tweeted for Catholics to pray for the typhoon victims. His message was retweeted 30,000 times.

      November 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  17. mzh

    why not look at things from a new perspective? Second, why not be open to doing things in a new way? And third, why not have a new vision for the church?

    Sounds like there is going to be another revision in NT... as its always been to make people happy whether it is within the boundary or out...

    November 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      And really are not those 3 questions just the same one asked a different way ?

      November 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • pat

      "change the NT"? – is that what you really said?... the NT has not changed – the Bible came from the Catholic Church in the year 326 AD – it has been transcribed in many languages... but – it was the protestant churches that took inspired manuscripts out of the bible.... after the reformation....

      November 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
      • mzh

        So you are following the teaching of Constantinople and not the teaching of Jesus the son of Marry (pbuh)?

        Of course not the teaching of Jesus the son of Marry (pbuh) as he was sent to the Jews to guide them in straight path... and late human made him one of three and elevate him to the level of his Creator...

        Peace and have a happy holidays... 🙂

        November 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Mary Magdalene

      The NT will change when your Qu'ran does. As in, never.

      November 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Sara

      Or they could just edit it as was done repeatedly in the first couple of centuries to the Quran.

      November 27, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • mzh

      @ MM and Sara:

      Which one to you is more authentic?

      – One was written 60-100 years after the prophet was gone from this earth
      – One was written during the prophet’s life time and also this book itself confirms that no one can touch this book, not even a dot moving from one place to other as it was revealed in Arabic language and we still have people speaks and experts in this language.

      15:9 – Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).

      Peace and happy holidays.... 🙂

      November 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      And mzh continues to tout his religion of terror and horror aka Islam !!!

      November 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Reality # 2

    Stop, stop, stop !!!

    There was and still is too much time wasted on religion. Francis needs to face the realities of the 21st century and put an end to all the inanity by coming to grips with the following (only for the new members of this blog):

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    November 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • TC

      Sorry you won;t make any converts with crazy ramblings on an article about the pope.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Ramblings? Au Contraire !!

        Added details:

        origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

        New Torah For Modern Minds

        “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
        Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

        The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

        Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

        The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

        The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

        November 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
        • Mary Magdalene

          Your obsession is unhealthy, old man.

          November 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Obsession? Au Contraire !!

          Only for those interested in a religious update without having to visit a library:

          2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

          The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

          earlychristianwritings.com/

          For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

          Current RCC problems:

          Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

          2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

          Current problems:
          Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

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

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

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

          Current crises:

          The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

          4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

          The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

          Current problems:

          The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

          5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

          "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

          Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

          Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

          Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

          November 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  19. EX Catholic

    This is like; who cares? Well of course idolaters and atheists do care, not surprising!

    November 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • His panic

      Shut up, idiot. You don't have any idea what idolatry even means.

      November 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • mzh

      Who are idolaters in your view?

      November 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
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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.