December 22nd, 2013
10:24 AM ET

The Pope's secret strength: The freedom to be Francis

Opinion by the Rev. Thomas Rosica, special to CNN

(CNN) Christmas was a moveable feast for me this year - in fact it happened right smack in the middle of Lent, when the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church elected a man from Argentina to be the next Pope.

I have been asking myself a ton of questions over the past months.

What has happened in the church, and how can it be that a 77-year-old, retirement-bound archbishop from Buenos Aires has captivated the world?

How can we describe the sense of springtime that has come upon the church? How is it fathomable in our day and age that not only Christians and Catholics but millions of others are speaking about “Papa Francesco” as if he were their own?

Is this all the work of a PR company or clever media strategists hired by the Vatican to rebrand its image? Or is there something else at work? Let me tell you what I think is afoot.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Francis upon his election as Pope and told us he did so because of his love for Francis of Assisi. For the past nine months, many of us have been associating the Pope’s gestures and actions with the “Poverello” or “Little Poor One” of Assisi, perhaps the most beloved saint of the Catholic tradition.

We can easily envision Francis of Assisi in that idyllic, medieval Umbrian hilltop town and mythologize about what really happened back in his day. But too often Francis’ radical message is lost and we reduce him to a gentle, whimsical hippie who fed birds, smelled flowers and tamed wild wolves. We easily forget that in reality, Assisi’s favorite son was and is the model of a radical Christian.

One day as a young man, Francis heard the plea of Jesus from the crucifix in the dilapidated San Damiano chapel on Assisi’s outskirts. “Go and repair my Church,” he heard Jesus say. And he certainly did that in his lifetime and through the huge Franciscan family that he left behind to carry forward his dream and continue his work.

Many of us have spent the past months finding similarities between Francis of Assisi and Francis of Buenos Aires, who took up residence in a guest house in Vatican City rather than the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace.

We become easily fixated on lots of eye-catching, buzz-causing externals and great photo opportunities: A Pope who abandoned the red shoes - that were never an official part of the papal wardrobe! A Pope who dresses modestly, pays his own lodging bills, drives around Vatican City in a Ford Focus, calls many people on the phone, brings jam sandwiches to on-duty Swiss Guards at his door and invites street people to his birthday breakfast.

This Roman pontiff specializes in kissing babies and embracing the sick, disfigured broken bodies, and the abandoned of society. We sit back, smile and utter: “What simplicity!” “Wow!” Awesome!” “Finalmente!”

We say: “Here is a one world leader who speaks the truth to power, walks his talk, and names idolatry and greed for what they are. Here’s a bold and courageous shepherd who lifts up the poor and tells us that if they are not part of our lives, then we are a sad and even doomed lot. Just like Francis of Assisi did in his day!”

But that is not the whole story.

I have realized more and more over the past months that while I have always loved Francis of Assisi and all the romantic ideals he embraced and stood for, Francis of Buenos Aires doesn’t transport me back to medieval Assisi. He takes me back to Bethlehem, Galilee and Jerusalem.

Everything the Pope is doing now is not just an imitation of his patron saint who loved the poor, embraced lepers, charmed sultans, made peace and protected nature. It’s a reflection of the child of Bethlehem who would grow up to become the man of the cross in Jerusalem, the Risen One that no tomb could contain, the man we Christians call Savior and Lord. The one whose birth we celebrate on December 25.

More than anyone in my lifetime, Pope Francis has given me a powerful glimpse into the mind and heart of God.

He wants the church to be an instrument of reconciliation and welcome, a church capable of warming hearts, a church that is not bent over on herself but always seeking those on the periphery and those who are lost, a church capable of leading people home.

Francis knows only too well that at times we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity.

On the late afternoon of March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio received the call to go, rebuild, repair, renew and heal the church.

What we have witnessed over the past nine months is simply a disciple of Jesus, and a faithful disciple of Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) and of Francis of Assisi, repairing, renewing, restoring, reconciling and healing the Church.

There are those who delight in describing the new Pope as a bold, brazen revolutionary sent to rock the boat. Others think he has come to cause a massive shipwreck.

But the only revolution that Pope Francis has inaugurated is a revolution of tenderness, the very words he used in his recent major letter on "The Joy of the Gospel."

“True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.”

It is this revolution that is at the heart of Pope Francis’ ministry.

Last week during a banquet in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George revealed why the cardinals gathered in conclave last March elected Bergoglio pope. George said: “Because the cardinal from Argentina was completely free. He possessed an interior freedom that was so evident.”

Is it not this unflinching freedom that allows Pope Francis to do what he does because he is unafraid and totally free to be himself at the same time of being such faithful son of the Church?

In our war-torn world, where selfishness, sadness, meanness, vengeance and harshness seem to have the upper hand at times, we need the message of Christmas: goodness, joy, kindness, mercy and the tenderness of our God.

These are also the qualities of the current revolutionary Bishop of Rome. No wonder why he has taken the world by storm, and why so many people are paying attention to him. We need the Francis revolution of tenderness and mercy now more than ever before.

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, is the CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network. He also assists the Holy See Press Office with English language media relations. The views expressed in this column belong to Rosica. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Leaders • Opinion • Pope Francis

soundoff (383 Responses)
  1. EX Catholic

    Ridiculous! He is a puppet of the Curia and an accomplice of the Vatican. His so called "freedom" is a fake, this is all a PR op. Freedom could be if he could use his own birth name, the one given him by his parents, he is not free to do it. This is just such a Fake nothing more than a show off of a Politico-religious organization with financial interests in and of the world.

    December 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Felice Calderon

      This vitriolic comment sounds like coming from an hate-filled atheist or an angry ultra-conservative pretending to sound like a hate-filled atheist!

      December 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • Mary

        Jeremiah 16:20-21
        New International Version (NIV)

        20 Do people make their own gods?
        Yes, but they are not gods!”

        21 “Therefore I will teach them—
        this time I will teach them
        my power and might.
        Then they will know
        that my name is the Lord

        December 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
      • EX Catholic

        Can't disprove what I said huh Calderon?

        December 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  2. Keith

    That is what I think when I think of this Pope, Springtime

    December 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • doobzz

      "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." – Alfred Lord Tennyson

      December 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    definition: "faith" - believing something without a single shred of proof.

    it amazes me that religious folk see this word as a badge of honor while any logical thinking person sees it as a mark of foolishness or insanity.

    quite a disconnect.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • NYCBOB

      That's not the definition of "faith". Though I like how you misquoted a citation-less definition to mold to your misguided narrative.

      Here is the real definition of faith, Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2013: "Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs."

      December 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • EX Catholic

        Don't hope for doG to be logic he/she/it is DUI.

        December 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • Dandintac

        Well, that is one of the dictionary definitions of "faith"–sure. But how is it actually used?

        "NOTHING can shake my Faith" a person declares. You note the lack of evidence. You point out the enormity and absurdity of the claims. "Nothing can shake my faith".

        There is the dictionary definition, but one can see the practical use of the word. It is a word used to justify belief, when there is no rational reason to do so. It is the the substi-tute for hard evidence. "I don't need evidence–I have FAITH". Or, "...for those who have faith, no evidence is needed." Maybe Merriam-Webster needs to add an additional definition, based on how the word is used in the real world.

        December 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the pagan Saturnalia festival hoping to recruit the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

    The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

    The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

    Christianity: centuries of shameless fraud on a grand scale.

    December 27, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • NYCBOB

      Citations/proof, please. Or are you continuing to make up "facts" like your previous posts?

      December 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Yule

      Saturnalia was for ancient Romans. Many pagans celebrate Yule. Also most Christians do not think of 12/25 as "Jesus's birthday", in fact some sects do not celebrate it at all.

      December 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • EX Catholic

      Atheistic doG as usual with atheists, intends to confuse and make belief that the RCC is "The church". That is because is "convenient" for his foolish shenanigans.

      December 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • lol??

        The Celtics were into breedin' German shepherds. Poor dog is old, BTW, and can't learn any new tricks.

        January 1, 2014 at 2:57 am |
      • lol??

        Church means circle.

        January 1, 2014 at 3:01 am |
  5. wulfranoruizsainz

    Simple. He is a worldly Pope.

    December 26, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • EX Catholic

      Know anyone who was not? They all have been!

      December 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  6. Austin

    vain repeti.tions......vain is the adjective, repetions is the center of attention and noun
    be obedient

    the other serious problem for you millions of catholics is this verse
    “For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

    If you EVER FIND, another verse in the new testament that says there are ANY OTHER mediators, then you can go back to the catholic church with a clean conscience.

    If you can not find another verse, and if you can't change the definition of "ONE", then you need to step into obedience and make sure that you never go to any other mediator, such as Mary, or any saint, or an Angel, in prayer.

    December 25, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      like the vanity of believing that the creator of the universe deeply desires a personal relationship with you?

      December 26, 2013 at 6:14 am |
      • 00 00

        Dyslexic doG

        In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the pagan Saturnalia festival hoping to recruit the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

        The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.
        The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.
        Christianity: centuries of shameless fraud on a grand scale.

        is she the funniest complete idiot of all time?

        January 11, 2014 at 4:00 am |
        • 00 00

          she is hitlerite. the bigger the lie the more will believe.

          January 12, 2014 at 12:30 am |
    • Reality # 2

      The Timothy epistle was not written by Paul and therefore has no divine guidance.

      December 26, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Reality # 2

      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 with these other religions:

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

      December 26, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Maddy

      Now you are attempting to tell other people how to pray?
      Stop it. Just... Stop it.
      Rituals are present throughout the Bible.
      Stop your religious bigotry.

      You seriously need to step back from your derision of other Christians and examine your own motives into why you feel the need bash other Christians.

      December 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • sam stone

        Come on, Maddy, we all know that Austin is god's official spokesman

        Austin and Gopher

        Austin, Gopher and Larry of Arabia

        Ausin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia and Robert Brown

        Austin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia, Robert Brown and JW

        Austin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia, Robert Brown, JW and Fred

        Austin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia, Robert Brown, JW, Fred and AE

        Austin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia, Robert Brown, JW, Fred, AE and Sharon

        Austin, Gopher, Larry of Arabia, Robert Brown, JW, Fred,AE, Sharon, Jeebus Beloved, Opposing View, etc etc etc

        If god is all powerful, why does he need these dimwits to stand up for him?

        December 27, 2013 at 7:30 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          now there's a list of denial and delusion.

          December 27, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • *

          add @Live4Him & Russ!

          December 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Out of that list... AE isn't that bad of a bloke (assuming AE is a dude)

          December 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Dandintac

          It is better to attack ideas rather than people.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
        • grannytenderstone

          He doesn't. satisfied? He also doesn't need humans being the freaking jerks they often are, but he gave us that choice. It's up to each of us to take the high road whenever we can manage it, and KNOW. not believe, but KNOW, as in gnosis. I have pure gnosis. I have no doubts, pure inner peace, and indestructible happiness. Soldiers could come and shoot me right now and there would be not a shred of fear, I fear NOTHING, because i have pure faith and knowing. bless you.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:17 am |
    • lol??

      Check out the evolution of angels, heroes, and workin' yer way up to being a mediator. The Herodians were of that mindset and were into aborting born babies. Course they didn't have a proper birth certificate either.

      January 1, 2014 at 2:48 am |
  7. george

    That's your interpretation? It's in plain english.

    December 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  8. Oh noes

    This idiot still hasn't corrected his first line....Christmas isn't movable. It falls on December 25th every year.
    Easter is the movable feast. Moron.

    December 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • scott

      You're the moron! He's saying Christmas was a moveable feast for him THIS YEAR and it came around Lent – because that's when we got a new Pope and it was a gift to us – like at Christmas...duh!!!

      December 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Oh noes

        That's your interpretation. I don't see it that way...now fuck off. No idiot can ever see Christmas as movable....pedophiles apologist....duh!

        December 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    The Pope's secret strength: a quality PR Campaign.

    December 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  10. sly

    The guy is just another Pope – there have been Pope's before, and there will be Pope's after. None of them are very different from each other. People who dedicate their life to living for religion are very very similar. All of them are conservative, which is the nature of religion.

    Nothing againest Francis – best of luck to him, but he is just another Pope.

    December 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Keith

      He is certainly different than any of the others in my lifetime. So, no he is not just another Pope, and there is a chance that may create change that is badly needed. I am not a Catholic, but seeing the wounds of the last twenty years with all the scandals couldn't be very good for the members or the leadership.

      December 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  11. Jesus' Beloved

    WISDOM is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

    By me (Wisdom) kings reign, and princes decree justice.
    By me (Wisdom) princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

    I (Wisdom) love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
    Riches and Honor are with me (Wisdom); yes, durable riches and righteousness.
    That I may cause those that love me (Wisdom) to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

    December 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    During this special time of the year, I send out a reminder to all my friends:

    Jesus wasn't born, he was written!

    December 23, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Keith

      What is your point? If you are not interested in the subject why bother to come here and post? You haven't informed those of us who don't believe anything we didn't already know. There is little chance you will convince those people of faith that are here to learn about other people of faith.

      December 23, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        thanks for your opinion keith.

        as the old saying goes: opinions are like keith (or some equivalent), everybody's got one.

        December 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Keith

          You are still an id/ot no matter what you think of me.

          December 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Only for the new members:

      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 )

      Added suggested readings:

      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

      December 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Summarizing the above references:

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

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

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

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

        December 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Sam Bo

          U r funny.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:55 am |
  13. Jesus' Beloved

    CNN Belief Blog Editor:

    It would be nice if you could include articles on those who are teaching and living the Kingdom of Heaven. These are people who preach the Good News of the Gospel while demonstrating the Power of the Most High through healing, raising the dead, casting out demons, building schools, orphanages etc.
    To make it easier I'll go ahead and give some names, it's very easy to verify the work that these people are doing.
    "The Kingdom of Heaven is not just in words, but Power"
    David Hogan, Curry Blake, Andrew Wommack, Joseph Prince, Todd White, Pete Cabrera Jr., John Paul Jackson, Surprise Sithole, Randy Clarke, Thomas Fisher, Dan Mohler, And So much more...
    It's not difficult to find and write about the ministry of these people.
    Thanks and Shalom

    December 23, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      sounds like a cult to me ...

      December 23, 2013 at 11:18 am |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Just a comforting thought to keep in the back of your mind... The nature of God is manifested in a given situation dependent on what is needed for that situation.
        So if you are ever in need provision, just call on Jehovah Jireh – the Lord who provides for all your needs.
        Jehovah Rapha – The Lord who Heals you
        He is your ever present help in whatever area you may need Him.

        Be Blessed and Shalom

        December 23, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Science Works

      The RCC understands evolution but they still hang on to Adam and Eve like you do ?

      December 23, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Keith

        It is a teaching story, not history. If all churches accepted Evolution the story would still be significant.

        December 23, 2013 at 11:43 am |
        • Science Works

          right a story with no facts !

          December 23, 2013 at 11:52 am |
        • Keith

          I guess you didn't study the classics in College, so you wouldn't understand what a teaching story is. It is really too bad that you didn't

          December 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        It's not a story for me, but a history of man's origins on this earth.
        The Book of Genesis covers ~ 3400 yrs of History, so I do not assume that all that happened in that time frame is included in the Book.
        The Holy Spirit only allowed what's necessary to know to be written down.
        I don't yet have the full knowledge and revelation that's in Genesis, however I'm still learning everyday.
        One has to understand the beginning in order to understand the end... From the Book of Thomas " where the beginning is, there shall be the end"...

        December 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Our three kids went to Catholic schools K-16. They were taught that the stories of A & E were allegories but there is actually some truth to it (not much but some) as noted below:

        As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

        " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

        "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

        Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

        It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

        o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

        "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

        According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

        Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

        And NG has started another project (December 2013 issue) where one man is walking the footsteps of Adam and his descendants from Africa to the tip of South America, a journey of 21,000 miles.

        December 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • Keith

          Problem is there were multiple Eves. Silly person, it is a teaching story, not a history book.

          December 23, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Multiple Eves? Where is that noted in the OT? Or anywhere else?

          And yes as noted, the story of Adam and Eve was an allegory as is taught in most if not all Catholic schools.




          a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
          "Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey"

          synonyms: parable, analogy, metaphor, symbol, emblem More
          "Saramago's latest novel is an allegory of social disintegration

          December 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  14. Sam Bo

    If god hates blellow, what u gonna do?

    December 23, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Sam Bo

      Pepperoni pizza for me.

      December 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ra Cist

      Call ghostbusters?

      December 23, 2013 at 6:29 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.