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December 24th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

CNN Poll: Pope's approval rating sky-high

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate his first Christmas at the Vatican, Americans' opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter's Basilica, according to a new survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.

The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably.  The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Nine months into his papacy, the Argentine-born Francis has captured attention with crowd-pleasing acts of compassion, from embracing a severely disfigured man, to washing the feet of juvenile delinquents, to hosting homeless men at his birthday Mass this month.

The Pope has also shown a common touch rare for such a lofty religious leader. He has eschewed the trappings of the papacy in favor of humbler digs, simpler vestments and a cheaper car. He worked as a bar bouncer and a janitor before he was a priest, and is not shy about telling people.

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

According to one study, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the Internet this year, and even atheists have professed appreciation for the 77-year-old pontiff.

The breadth of Francis' popularity was on display at American newsstands this month: he was named person of the year by both Time magazine and The Advocate, a gay and lesbian publication.

"While 2013 will be remembered for the work of hundreds in advancing marriage equality, it will also be remembered for the example of one man," The Advocate said. In remarks that rippled across the globe, Pope Francis said in July, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?

Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

While the Pope has not changed church doctrine, he has urged Catholics to shift their focus from culture war issues to caring for people on society's margins, especially the poor.

"I see the church as a field hospital after battle," Francis said in September.

American Catholics appear to like the new course the Pope has set for their church. Nearly two-thirds agree with him about the amount of attention that should be paid to issues such as abortion and homosexuality, according to the CNN/ORC poll.

More than 85% of American Catholics say Francis is neither too liberal nor too conservative, and 86% say he's in touch with the modern world. By comparison, more than half of American Catholics said Pope John Paul II was out of step with the times in 2003, near the end of his 26-year-long papacy.

But Francis has been a fierce critic of the status quo, especially what calls the "idolatry of money" present in modern-day capitalism. In a papal statement last month, for example, the Pope blasted the theory of trickle-down economics, calling it "crude and naïve."

Conservative critics such as Rush Limbaugh pounced on the Pope's remarks, calling him a closet Marxist. But nearly two in three American Catholics agree with the Pope about capitalism and the free market's effects on the poor, according to the CNN/ORC poll.

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

On other key issues for Catholics - the role of women in the church and the sexual abuse crises - Francis gets similarly high ratings from his American flock.

More than six in 10 American Catholics agree with Francis' comments about women in the church, according to the CNN/ORC poll. The Pope has said that women should have a larger role in church governance but cannot be ordained as priests.

Similarly, more than six in 10 American Catholics say Francis is doing a good job handling fallout from the church's sexual abuse scandal, even as most (64%) also say the church overall has done a poor job on the issue.

This month, the Vatican announced the creation of a new commission to care for victims of clergy sexual abuse and to prevent future crimes.

American Catholics had given especially low marks on the sexual abuse scandal to Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, with just 36% saying in 2010 that he had handled the issue well.

CNN's Holland said it's difficult to ascertain exactly how Francis' popularity stacks up against his predecessors, however. "It's a tough question since polling on Popes is pretty sparse," he said.

What's more, like political polling, approval ratings shift depending on the public mood and perception of a Pope's performance.

For example, three-quarters of American Catholics approved of how John Paul was leading the church in 1994; that number rose to 84% in 1999 and dipped to 64% in 2003, at the height of the church's sexual abuse crisis.

It remains to be seen how long the honeymoon will last for Francis, and how long he can continue to build goodwill among American Catholics.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on December 16 through Thursday, with 1,035 adults nationwide, including 191 Catholics, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Pope Francis' greatest hits of 2013

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Leaders • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Sex abuse • Vatican

soundoff (3,274 Responses)
  1. CNN Please Fix It

    I am really tired of trying to search these pages for new posts since the Recent Comments links don't function. Sorry posters, you are great, but this is too much like work...

    December 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Somtimes

      if comments get deleted the recent comment feature does not work

      December 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • CNN Please Fix It

        It is a shoddy platform that is poorly monitored. There is no excuse for CNN not doing a better job of it.

        December 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • Austin

          so is he missing the filter? back errow and find the filtered word.

          December 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Jesus' Beloved

    Excerpt: Joseph Prince's "Power of Right Believing"

    Many today believe in a "religious" God. They believe that God is against them when they fall short, that He is angry with them when they fail, that fellowship with Him is cut off when they make mistakes. They believe that God is perpetually unsatisfied with them, waiting impatiently to be appeased. They imagine a God who is constantly judging them for their weaknesses, shaking His head in abject disappointment at their mediocrity or never-ending failures. They believe that they are not good enough for Him.

    It's no wonder then that instead of running to the one true solution, they run in the opposite direction when they are hurting. So there is a great deception, a powerful, wrong belief about God that has trapped many in the vicious cycle of co.ndemnation, guilt, fear, defeat, and addiction.

    My friend, the God I know is a God of infinite grace. He is repugnant to the "religious", but gracious and irresistible to those who are hurting.

    No matter what you are going through today, whatever addic.tions may be binding you, right believing can and will set you free. Start with believing this powerful truth:

    God is a God of grace and forgiveness. He loves you very much and He doesn't hold your mistakes against you.

    December 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • doobzz

      Joseph Prince's "Power of Right Believing"

      Another arrogant Christian declaring they have a hotline to their deity and know how everyone should think.

      December 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Hugh

      Thats grace . Thanks.

      December 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        You're most welcome.

        Blessings and Great Prosperity to you in the upcoming New Year.

        December 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • G to the T

          Hmmm... possessing of "infinite grace" but unable to stand being near "sin". That's an interesting dicotomy you got there.

          December 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  3. Jesus' Beloved

    Austin, don't you believe God has the ability to correct His people, no matter who they are or where they are.
    When you come across an organization or people that you believe do not line up with the Word of God, instead of co.ndemnation, the best thing is to "be"...
    be that example of the Word..
    Live your life to Glorify God... When you do that, others will see your light and come to it.

    When God saw darkness, He didn't say "wow! so dark"
    He said "light be"
    Speak what you want to see, not what you see.
    Catholics and others who believe in God are all sons of God. We're all at different levels in our relationship with Him.
    I understand what you're trying to say to MG... however remember the sword (Word) is powerful, and must be used with care so as not to hurt but to ex.cise.

    God Bless

    December 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Austin

      15 Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! 2 And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

      “‘Those destined for death, to death;
      those for the sword, to the sword;
      those for starvation, to starvation;
      those for captivity, to captivity.’

      3 “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” declares the Lord, “the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds and the wild animals to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.

      5 “Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem?
      Who will mourn for you?
      Who will stop to ask how you are?
      6 You have rejected me,” declares the Lord.
      “You keep on backsliding.
      So I will reach out and destroy you;
      I am tired of holding back.
      7 I will winnow them with a winnowing fork
      at the city gates of the land.
      I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people,
      for they have not changed their ways.
      8 I will make their widows more numerous
      than the sand of the sea.
      At midday I will bring a destroyer
      against the mothers of their young men;
      suddenly I will bring down on them
      anguish and terror.
      9 The mother of seven will grow faint
      and breathe her last.
      Her sun will set while it is still day;
      she will be disgraced and humiliated.
      I will put the survivors to the sword
      before their enemies,”
      declares the Lord.

      10 Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth,
      a man with whom the whole land strives and contends!
      I have neither lent nor borrowed,
      yet everyone curses me.

      December 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jep

      Are you saying that Catholics are not at the same "level" that you and Austin believe yourselves to be? There are "levels", in your opinion? Who judges those "levels"?

      December 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Why do you take offense? Perhaps level is not the correct term.
        However a believer who is a 1 yr old Christian and one who is a 10 yr old Christian, who were never taught to renew their minds and have no idea of who they are in Christ, are on the same level.

        A believer who has their minds renewed, or is in the process of having their minds renewed in at another level.

        A believer whose mind is totally renewed and they can operate solely out of the spirit realm is at another level.

        That's what I meant by levels. Again, perhaps the word choice is not perfect, yet it's what I have.

        December 29, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • Austin

        I am scared to death for catholics because they are never willing to give a biblical response in response to the charge of idolaty and false worship. they simply trust the catechism of the catholic church. i did get a response" well the bible was put together by the catholic church" I have a problem with that idea as well.

        God does not allow us to try and make His son and spirit more that what it is. There is nothing supernatural about Mary. Praying to Mary is an incredibaly serious issue. So is the misunderstanding of the trinity , and believing what Mormons believe.

        December 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  4. Jesus' Beloved

    Austin, don't you believe God has the ability to correct His people, no matter who they are or where they are.
    When you come across an organization or people that you believe do not line up with the Word of God, instead of condemnation, the best thing is to "be"...
    be that example of the Word..
    Live your life to Glorify God... When you do that, others will see your light and come to it.

    When God saw darkness, He didn't say "wow! so dark"
    He said "light be"
    Speak what you want to see, not what you see.
    Catholics and others who believe in God are all sons of God. We're all at different levels in our relationship with Him.
    I understand what you're trying to say to MG... however remember the sword (Word) is powerful, and must be used with care so as not to hurt but to excise.

    God Bless

    December 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Jesus' Beloved

    Hi Austin, MG, Cpt.

    MG hope you're having a fantastic Sunday.

    Austin, I'm glad you decided not to submit to that test thing.
    Jesus was tempted by the devil three times. Always the devil tells him – "prove it", "show it" "do it"
    All of these have to do with being in the world.. the Bible defines being worldly as : lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life.
    Jesus was humble... He could have told the devil, "I created you, and all these people etc." but He didn't. He simply quoted Scripture back to the devil and rebuked him.

    Don't fall prey to the enemy. As I said, remember to separate the person from the spirit that's behind the person.
    It's the spirit of pride, that keeps saying prove this, prove that.
    Nothing displeases Father more than unbelief and pride.

    Jesus had every reason to be proud – yet he wasn't. How much then should we learn humility.

    December 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, why back up the claims when he can just lie?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • igaftr

      "Nothing displeases Father more than unbelief and pride"

      Teaching that stuff is a cornberstone of any brainwashing technique. Standard indoctrination 101.
      All religions have within them that everything else is false, and OUR book is the right one.

      Why, if the bible is supossedly correct, that it gets SO MANY things wrong?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      JB, why can't you get your story straight?

      Yesterday you said that spiritual laws worked for everyone, but then later you said that they didn't, that they only worked for people who had the right levels of creativity and knowledge on certain topics. Why contradict yourself so obviously like that?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        I said, and I'll repeat.

        Spiritual Laws work for anyone.... no exceptions.

        I already stated, the other part had to do with us limiting God in our lives.
        What don't you understand?

        December 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • doobzz

          The great Christian loophole: It works EVERY TIME, and if it doesn't, you're doing something wrong.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Nope. You connected the concepts yesterday, so don't be a liar about it today. Lying makes baby Jesus cry.

          I asked you, since spiritual laws work for everyone, what spiritual law ANYONE could perform that would verify that your claim is correct and thereby prove your god exists to cause these "spiritual laws. You then replied that if a person doesn't have enough knowledge and understanding and imagination that it wouldn't work.

          You should stop equivocating and get down to brass tacks, as they say.

          Again, do spiritual laws work for everyone (Yes, you say that they do). Okay.
          Again, what spiritual law (they work for everyone) can a person see in action to prove correct or false your claim (and your god who enacts such a system of spiritual laws)?

          Wait? Why are you running away? Don't go!! JB!!..... JB!!?!???!?!!!

          December 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Spiritual Laws work for everyone, no matter who uses them.

          Spiritual Laws are similar to Physical Laws.

          What happens when a law is violated?

          December 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Ah. So that's all you can do, is it? Just make the statement and then say that it happens all the time. Gotcha.

          So you've got nothing, is that it? No evidence of any spiritual law ever? You just get to claim that they always work and that they never don't work, but you can't even prove that they happen. Nice. Very christian. You should be proud.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • igaftr

          The laws of physics actually exist, while there is no logical path one could take that could conclude there is such a thing a "spiritual laws". Just wishful thinking.

          December 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      Christians are about as far from humble as one can get

      You claim to know what god likes or dislikes

      You believe the creator of everything desires nothing more thana personal relationship with you

      go home, and get your shinebox

      December 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • doobzz

        "go home, and get your shine box"

        LOL! Love that line.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • MG

      I am having a fabulous Sunday; I hope you are too, JB.

      December 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  6. bostontola

    Scientists owe a debt of grati.tude to fundamentalist Christians/creationists that attack evolution. They inspire scientists to find the subtle details of evolution that might otherwise take much longer to discover.

    Biology as a science is different in character than physics. Physics is there to be discovered, a static target. Biology is creative, a moving target and a tall edifice of creation built over billions of years. Biology is much more complex than physics (doesn't mean physics is easier to understand, it's principles lie in physical realms outside of our brains' normal attention so it hard to envision but simpler in structure).

    The original theory of evolution was incomplete. Every day more detail is unveiled. The tough questions posed by creationists get explored, answers get tested, and the theory grows into reality in surprising ways. Evolution is being revealed as even more complex and beautiful than Darwin could have imagined. It is far from linear at a constant speed. There are other forces than natural selection involved, more than survival of the fittest.

    The most interesting part to me is that with all the new evolution science, the original concept is not as wrong as it was simply incomplete. The basic tenets have stood all the tests. The tough questions have not undermined the theory, but have strengthened it. Just like in physics, where the century old quantum theories have been made more complete, there is no scientist that doubts the world is based on quantum mechanics, all the assaults on evolution have removed doubt about evolution.

    December 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  7. Austin

    The word "catholic" and "catechism" is not found in the bible. That is therefore a ma made fake idea. that is what false religion is.

    December 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You mean like the word "rapture" is not found in the bible?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • G to the T

        "Age of accountability" is oddly missing as well...

        December 30, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • G to the T

          Oh! And "Free Will" can't seem to find that anywhere either...

          December 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • MG

      You have got to be kidding.
      Methodist isn't found in the Bible.
      Lutheran isn't found in the Bible
      Calvinist isn't found in the Bible.
      Protestant, Quaker, etc etc...

      Stop bashing Christians. Catholicism is the ORIGINAL form of Christianity. OMG. You have lost it, Austin. And I have list all respect for you, religious bigot.

      December 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • JWT

        I have to say that I do not think that Austin has lost it. To lose it you must have had it in the first place.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  8. Austin

    Austin

    Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol or a physical object such as a cult image as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving honour and regard to created forms. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although views as to what consti.tutes idolatry may differ within and between them. In other religions the use of cult images is accepted. Which images, ideas, and objects consti.tute idolatry is often a matter of considerable contention.

    Behaviour considered idolatrous or potentially idolatrous may include the creation of any type of image of the deity, or of other figures of religious significance such as prophets, saints, and clergy, the creation of images of any person or animal at all, and the use of religious symbols, or secular ones. In addition, Christian theologians, following Saint Paul, have extended the concept to include giving undue importance to other aspects of religion, or to non-religious aspects of life in general, with no involvement of images specifically. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods, or demons (for example satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc."

    December 29, 2013 at 11:35 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Austin

    1 Timothy 2:5 ►
    For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

    Matthew 6:9-13
    9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

    December 29, 2013 at 11:38 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Austin

    Every prayer in the Bible from a godly person was a pray directly to God. We are son's of God, we have found favor with God, and the Holy Spirit is within us.
    Exodus 34:14
    Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

    Exodus 20:23
    Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

    2 Kings 17:35
    When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.

    “You shall not make for yourself an idol” is an abbreviated form of one of the Ten Commandments which, according to the book of Deuteronomy, were spoken by God to Israel and then written on stone tablets by God himself.[1]

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

    — Exodus 20:4-6

    December 29, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • igaftr

      Blah blah blah
      spam spam spam.

      Do you have anything on topic or are you just going to stand there shouting on the street corner with the other religious nut jobs?

      December 29, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • MG

      "For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods, or demons (for example satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc.”

      Yes. What part of this do you repeatedly refuse to understand?

      Statues are not worshiped but looked to as a point of focus in prayer and meditation.

      Don't become Catholic if you don't agree.
      Christianity doesn't hinge in your approval of my religion, Thank God.

      I promise I won't become a fire and brimstone pseudo preacher who thinks I am having "supernatural" relevatory dreams and start bashing millions of other Christians who don't think Exactly As I Do.

      December 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Austin

        the point of the commandment is that ANY statue, is the incorrect representation of the appearance of God, and is absolutely forbidden, and is negating and disrespecting the Holy Spirit, "God in you."

        That is clearly NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Austin

          The cahtolic Church is a religious piece of trash that is going to be placed in the garbage. God, The Word His son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are Authenic.

          All of mans traditions and religon are worthless spectacles. If that is what you love, the pope, the catholic church, you probably are not saved. You have been hijacked by a false religion.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • MG

          Except we don't worship the statues. At all.

          You are willfully ignoring that to fit in with your BIGOTED ideology.

          You are a false prophet. You have been deceived. You are presuming to speak for God.

          You are a religious bigot. You are doing the devils work; all on the name of Christ. You are deliberately trying to turn a billion devout Christians against God. If that isn't the devil's work, WHAT IS???

          December 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • igaftr

          "If that isn't the devil's work, WHAT IS???"

          The bible itself. Why would a god be so wrong about so many things?

          The bible itself, and the belief in the outrageous claims contained therein have long been used by immoral men, and even the allowing of someone else to take your just punishment....you must perform an immoral act to accept your man-god....the work of satan?
          Most likley , just the work of ignorant men who needed to control others through relgion.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • MG

          Igaftr, I shall respectfully disagree.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Anonymous

          MG, don't bother.
          Remember these words by a great man:

          "To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture."
          Thomas Paine

          Austin is holding over a billion people in contempt. That should say it all!

          December 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • igaftr

          MG
          To what do you disagree?

          The bible is wrong?...it clearly is in many, many places.
          The bible and the belief in it has been used to nefarious ends? The history of christianity is FULL of violence and suffering at the hands of christians.

          You do realize that there is just as much evidence that it was inspired by a god, as it was inspired by satan, right?...there is not one shred of evidence either way, so what exactly do you "respectfully disagree" with?

          December 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • MG

          I disagree with your premise.
          You are atheist.
          I am not.

          I am not going to argue with you. You have your mind made up, and that's fine.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          You disagree with the premise that the bible could be the work of satan?

          You think I have my mind made up when you won't even consider the possibility....funny. My mind is NOT made up, since I am an atheist and agnostic. YOURS on the other hand is clearly set in stone that you won't even entertain the notion.

          What if the bible and all it's content ARE the works of a satan character?
          The bible clearly has some things that are not true.
          The bible and the belief have been used by MANY men over the years ( including popes) to nefarious purposes.
          These men have been able to corrupt quite easily the "word of god"....why is "gods word" so easily corruptable?
          There are currently over 40,000 versions of worship to this one book...clearly no two men even interpret it the same way.

          So again I ask....what if the bible IS the work of a satan character?

          December 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • igaftr

          MG
          That is what I have come to expect. You claim MY mind is made up, yet when asked a serious philisophical question, you claim MY mind is closed and you run away.

          Open your mind...There are none so blind as those who think a book helps them see.

          December 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  9. HotAirAce

    Has this Pope-A-Dope announced the RCC is going to fully cooperate with civilian authorities investigating priestly pedophilia, child abuse and the coverup of criminal activities? No! Then fuck 'im!

    December 29, 2013 at 4:21 am |
    • bostontola

      HAA,
      Of course I don't know what's really going on in the RCC, but it looks to me like this Pope is trying to move the culture of the church. I see every religion as 2 macro parts, 1. the core beliefs/rules and then 2. a looser culture of how to live prioritizing values, etc. This Pope isn't changing the core at all, as would be expected, but he does seem to be pulling hard to reset the culture of the RCC, focusing on helping the less fortunate over enforcement of specific individual morality choices. I'm not naive, this is by design to attract more subscribers, but who cares, I like this tone better. Changing culture takes time and must come in steps to work. I'm waiting to see if he effectively takes on all the corruption, including child abuse by priests.

      December 29, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • Science Works

        Or even last maybe ?

        For human rights to flourish, religious rights have to come second

        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/27/human-rights-religious-rights-come-second#start-of-comments

        December 29, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • Austin

          From God's perspective on a salvation basis, are there rights in heaven for the people who don't simply reject Christ, but furthermore what supress the gospel , which they do not know? People who voice enmity with God and support satanic deception, who worship satanic deception and despiset atonement, living sin rather than God's holiness.

          God help me.

          December 29, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • bostontola

          If I believed in God, I wouldn't speak from His perspective. I wouldn't presume to be able to speak for an omniscient being. But that's just me.

          December 29, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Science Works

          Austin – is the other you the same ?

          #3 Parallel Worlds exist and will soon be testable, expert says

          Ethical Technology

          http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pelletier20131227

          December 29, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Anonymous

          You have condemned Mary as being unworthy, Austin.

          How accommodating do you think He will be, welcoming you into His Kingdom, knowing that you condemned His mother as being unworthy?

          God help you, indeed.

          December 29, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Austin @anonamous

          can you give me some biblical rebuttal as to praying to anyone other than God? I am not interested in your opinion, I would rather have a biblical example of Mary being one worthy of Prayer. she was hailed by angels while she was living, Angels reject any form of worhip directed at them, i can provide you with 600 examples of prayer to God as the model for prayer.

          Again, do you have any examples of this so called "deceased human" intercession of prayers from THE WORD?

          December 29, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • Anonymous

          Fundamentalists challenge the Catholic practice of asking saints and angels to pray for us. But the Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us.

          Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:20-21). And in Psalm 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Ps. 148:1-2)

          Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In Revelation, John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). Thus the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

          I know that this is unlikely to satisfy you; there is more, but even if the Blessed Virgin appeared to you and told you otherwise, you would still be mired in your thinking that you, and only YOU, know the mind of God, as you arrogantly wrote in your 11:3o post.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        You are more patient than me. I see no moves to address the actual crimes of the past. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes for the RCC's head shaman to issue an order to cooperate. What is he hiding?

        December 29, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • bostontola

          Fair point. When it comes to religion, patience is all I've got.

          December 29, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • doobzz

          I have to agree. As someone who endured twelve years of parochial school and was brainwashed enough to become a parochial school teacher, the RCC has had more than enough time to address this. Decades, and thousands of children abused because they chose to relocation instead of removal and prosecution.

          Now they're forming yet another committee to "investigate" what they already know to be true. That will give them at least another decade of foot dragging, dodging and denial.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  10. stanky weed patch

    The christian life is brutal. It is an assault on everything society craves: wealth, status, beauty, power, achievement, ego, lust, good times, freedom from responsibility, the exaltation of self, you get the picture

    December 29, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Observer

      stanky weed patch

      "freedom from responsibility". Yep, that's when Christ takes the punishment for all of your Christian sins according to the Bible.

      December 29, 2013 at 2:14 am |
      • stanky weed patch

        If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.

        I die daily

        The cross is an offense to those who are perishing, and foolishness.

        You must hate your folks, kids, friends and yourself if you intend to follow him.

        If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.

        Your hands? Cut them off.

        December 29, 2013 at 2:55 am |
        • doobzz

          Same brainwashing techniques that every cult uses.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      yet the society if overwhelmingly christian.

      December 29, 2013 at 6:27 am |
      • sam stone

        IS overwhemingly christian

        December 29, 2013 at 6:28 am |
        • stanky weed patch

          I never knew u

          December 29, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • doobzz

          @ stanky weed patch

          Is the No True Scotsman fallacy the best you can do?

          December 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  11. Austin

    bostontola

    Austin,
    You really need to explore other fields than religion if you want to understand the world. China is a competi.tor of the US but is very different than Russia. Russia has an economy that is natural resource based. It does not rely on trade as much as other big economies. China is fully meshed in the global economy, not just with the US. If there is a large war, they would lose an enormous amount of what they've gained in the past few decades. They are the second biggest economy in the world, that is a lot to lose. I recommend a macro economics course at your local community college.

    December 29, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Austin

      really, there wont be any wars for the new world order that 2xbush , clinton, and obama have repeatedly made reference to?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:37 am |
      • bostontola

        Austin,
        I'm not a soothsayer, but it is more likely that China will flex their muscles against local Asian countries over historical claims than against the US. The new world order has already changed since Bush and Clinton were in charge.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  12. Austin

    talkig about drinking water, fresh water. for grazing, center pivots,and at this point allready going to china. water is going to take over instead of oil. magog, mongolia is a key part to end times prophecy. They are going to be at war against Christ.
    here are other prophecies, may be taking place now or in the past

    The King Who Exalts Himself
    36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.[d]

    40 “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. 42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cush.ites[e] in submission. 44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at[f] the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

    December 28, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Observer

      "Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand."

      Major FAIL. Check a world map and see if you can find them.

      December 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
      • Austin

        you are on the wrong track . that does not matter. The people are real.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:09 am |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          "Many countries will fall, but EDOM, MOAB and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand."

          MAJOR FAIL. It said COUNTRIES would fall, BUT they will not.

          Oooops!

          December 29, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  13. Austin

    Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol or a physical object such as a cult image as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving honour and regard to created forms. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although views as to what const.itutes idolatry may differ within and between them. In other religions the use of cult images is accepted. Which images, ideas, and objects const.itute idolatry is often a matter of considerable contention.

    Behaviour considered idolatrous or potentially idolatrous may include the creation of any type of image of the deity, or of other figures of religious significance such as prophets, saints, and clergy, the creation of images of any person or animal at all, and the use of religious symbols, or secular ones. In addition, Christian theologians, following Saint Paul, have extended the concept to include giving undue importance to other aspects of religion, or to non-religious aspects of life in general, with no involvement of images specifically. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods, or demons (for example satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc."[1] In some ultra-conservative Islamic societies with sharia law, idolaters may face the death penalty.[2]

    The avoidance of the use of images for religious reasons is called aniconism. The destruction of religious images within a culture is called iconoclasm, of which there have been many major episodes in history.

    December 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Austin

      include the creation of any type of image of the deity, or of other figures of religious significance such as prophets, saints, and clergy, the creation of images of any person or animal at all, and the use of religious symbols, or secular ones. In addition, Christian theologians, following Saint Paul, have extended the concept to include giving undue importance to other aspects of religion, or to non-religious aspects of life in general, with no involvement of images specifically. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods, or demons (for example satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc

      December 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Observer

      "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."

      Yep. Look at ALL the paintings of Jesus or statues of him on the cross.
      Just massive HYPOCRISY by Christians. Nothing new.

      December 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
      • Austin

        Thanks Observer, its funny how the an obvious "certain" church refuses to comply with the commandment or any logic on this matter. as well as other churches. It does not take a saint to admit it.

        I consider you a saint to be Observer. I doubt you can hear as much of the Word as you have and not be saved by God's grace and authority at some point.

        December 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          "I doubt you can hear as much of the Word as you have and not be saved by God's grace and authority at some point."

          Sorry. FAIL. I am an agnostic BECAUSE I have read the Bible.

          December 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        • sam stone

          Contact the James Randi foundation, Austin.

          We can see what kind of non-prophet you really are.

          "Saved by god's grace" indeed. Your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck

          December 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
        • Austin

          Did you pray for the Holy Spirit and for forgiveness, and for wisdom?

          December 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          Why not give the $1 million from James Randi to your church? Don't you care about the church?

          December 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • Austin

          Hey Sam, hows it going. I just read the James Randi challenge site and i am going to fill out the application. there is a part on there where there are 3 items for selection. one of them is a self made tape. i would have to go that direction. the next catch is passing the preliminary test, where you pass the test to make the formal challenge. for me to do this, would require many days and nights. I think I will give it a shot AFTER, I share my musical talent and get advise on that . I see potential with that that might be the better long run option. but I am 100 percent interested in the Randi Challenge!

          December 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • Austin

          with the musical talent, I have had this road illuminated by a dream from about 2004 and it has just come true, the dream, last week with details from my grandmothers funeral, and the neighbors at the "big sandy " getting a piano, and the fact that a song that came to this year, is now polished and I have began singing as of 6 months ago. I have never performed infront of anyone. no one has ever heard me sing. im nervous, but why?, the Lord is with me.

          December 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
        • Austin

          Jeremiah 17:5

          5 This is what the Lord says:

          “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
          who draws strength from mere flesh
          and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

          Sam, I think verses like this tell me not to take the James Randi Challenge. I believe that God has a way for me to make his name know through a gospel oriented type of channeling, rather than the James Randi Challenge.

          If i did that I could very well enrage the Lord. I think I may have just been rebuked for thinking about doing it. I need to get some advice.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          "Sam, I think verses like this tell me not to take the James Randi Challenge"

          lol. That's a classic EXCUSE. Tell us that God doesn't want his church to get $1,000,000 from your challenge win.

          You are a RIOT.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Mary Hecht

          Liar. They do nothing of the kind. Hater. Bigot.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • Mary Hecht

          Meant for the liar Austin.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • sam stone

          yet another dodge from the jeebus sucking coward

          December 29, 2013 at 6:34 am |
      • Austin

        Mary what are you referring to ?

        December 29, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Mary Hecht

      Liar. Christian basher. Bigot. Hater.

      December 28, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
      • Austin

        Mary , get a strongs bible concordence, and find a verse for me that gives us an example of a holy man praying to another deceased human.

        There are none. That is evil.
        the hail mary was not used in vain until 1000 ad

        December 29, 2013 at 12:13 am |
  14. Austin

    An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.

    December 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Mary Hecht

      Liar. Nobody does that. Bigot. Condemn what you don't understand; sit in judgement falsely.
      Mat7:1-5
      Hateful.

      December 28, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
      • Austin

        Mary , what do i not understand about your tradition of men?
        Jesus gave you one firm example how to pray. what is wrong with praying to the father? you smarter than Jesus? you got something that tops his instruction.

        1 Timothy 2:5 ►

        For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

        Mary, I hate idolatrous deception. You are absolutely right. I hate the prayers to Mary. She is unworthy.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:19 am |
        • Mary Hecht

          Liar. Bigot. The Blessed Mary is UNWORTHY?

          You are unworthy.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  15. stanky weed patch

    And the wind cries mary

    December 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • bostontola

      Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past

      December 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
      • Over 40

        I've never been good with names, but I still remember the faces.

        December 29, 2013 at 7:46 am |
  16. Lana

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ
    #

    December 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  17. bostontola

    Dec 28, 2013. There are so many mysteries of nature that science is still searching for answers to. That only includes the the things we know we don't know. There must be things we don't even know we don't know, yet to be discovered.

    Now flash back 500, 1000, 5000 years. There was no solid understanding of gravity, light, chemistry, evolution, etc. The natural world was all mystery. Then as now, some people were curious. They desperately wanted to explain their world. They did the best that they could. Some explanations worked better than nothing even if they were wrong. The differential success encouraged more explanations. Some of those have survived to this day. Many are as poetic and beautiful as they are fanciful.

    The interesting thing is, even though humans have developed a scientific method that has yielded knowledge and understanding on much of the natural world, many cling to these ancient explanations. Even when the ancient story is factually wrong, when the out dated morality is out of step and unfair based on things we have learned over the centuries, many look past these errors and cling to fanciful stories.

    It is a fascinating sociological phenomenon that future historians will talk about in amazement.

    December 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • RB

      It is a miracle, 2000 years and there is still faith. If it is 2000 more years or 20,000, I think he will find faith.

      Luke 18
      Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
      18 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

      December 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
      • bostontola

        RB,
        There will always be faith, but not necessarily blind faith.

        December 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
        • RB

          Hey bostontola,

          I don't think there is any such thing as blind faith, everyone has reasons for what they believe. Christian faith is a child like faith, that doesn't mean it is blind. It means it is a trusting faith.

          December 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
      • tallulah13

        People still fear death, therefore they will continue to make bargains with the mythological being that they are told can make them live forever.

        December 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't think so. They will for the next 100 years, but the amount of science that is growing at an accelerated pace will make the current religions obviously false. There may be new systems, but they won't look like Christianity. Just my opinion.

          December 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • Austin

          The only problem that I could see is that the more wicked and pushy atheistic science gets, the more they will make rediculious claims about "Abrahamic" religions. Personally, I believe that the fact that water is growing scarce and the fact that China wants to nuke us, is all an obvious precursor to armgeddon and the four horse judgments.

          December 28, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,
          " I believe that the fact that water is growing scarce and the fact that China wants to nuke us"

          Wow! With the polar ice caps melting and the level of the oceans rising, that means water is growing scarce. Unreal.

          Wow! So China which is hugely invested financially in us wants to nuke it all.

          Please spend less time reading the Bible and further your education in the REAL world.

          December 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
        • Austin

          actuall the polar ice caps enlarged this year. well did you know that China exports our water from the great lakes? why is that? why don't they get it from the ice caps? why did the Bush family go by 80,000 acres in a latin america country with the biggest water reserves in the world? because they know that water is becoming scarce. our rivers are drying up. Farmland is struggling and if gets much worse, we will have major problems keeping livestock watered.

          China puts out information every day on their news stations giving all indications that they are interested in nuking us . where have you been?

          December 28, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
        • Observer

          "China puts out information every day on their news stations giving all indications that they are interested in nuking us . where have you been?"

          Yep. They have a HUGE amount of money invested in our country and want it all to get blown away. LOL!

          "In the past decade, polar ice caps have shown their most rapid decline in size with no true sign of recovery. The “rate of warming in the Arctic over the last 20 years is eight times the rate of warming over the last 100 years.” In September 2012, sea ice reached its smallest size ever. Journalist John Vidal stated that sea ice is "700,000 sq km below the previous minimum of 4.17m sq km set in 2007". In August 2013, Arctic sea ice extent averaged 6.09m km2, which represents 1.13 million km2 below the 1981-2010 average for that month."

          Source: wikipedi, NOT the Bible. Read something besides the Bible. It's 2,000 years old.

          December 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
        • Austin

          observer,
          We have NO WAY, of EVER, paying China back. It is in their interest to bomb us if you think about it.

          on the ice caps, how much did they increase in size this winter, the coldest winter on record?
          in the fifties, they took soot from coal, and they were dumping it on the ice cap becaus it was "too cold"

          today, with the size that it is to day, how does it compare to the size of it 10 years ago?

          December 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin

          "We have NO WAY, of EVER, paying China back. It is in their interest to bomb us if you think about it. "

          If YOU think about it, if China planned to blow away their money in the U.S., they sure wouldn't keep investing MORE and MORE. Does reading the Bible kill any logic you have?

          Question: are ocean levels RISING or DECREASING? Are Alaskan fishing villages being threatened by the ocean getting closer and closer? Get serious.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
        • Mary Hecht

          The US exports Great Lakes water. China doesn't own the Great Lakes. Liar Austin. Christian persecuter of other Christians. Hypocrite.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
        • bostontola

          Austin,
          You really need to explore other fields than religion if you want to understand the world. China is a competi.tor of the US but is very different than Russia. Russia has an economy that is natural resource based. It does not rely on trade as much as other big economies. China is fully meshed in the global economy, not just with the US. If there is a large war, they would lose an enormous amount of what they've gained in the past few decades. They are the second biggest economy in the world, that is a lot to lose. I recommend a macro economics course at your local community college.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:24 am |
        • AGuest9

          @MaryHecht: Contact the Council of Great Lakes Governors and request the updated Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. They are not going to "give away" the water that they depend on for their communities or commerce.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Jesus' Beloved

    Topher why do you caution against listening to Andrew?

    December 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • doobzz

      I see you've been infected with the inability to use the Reply button too. Interesting.

      December 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Thanks for correcting and redirecting me.
        I've re-asked my question at the proper spot.

        Blessings

        December 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • doobzz

          No problem, JB. Happens to everyone sometimes.

          December 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Guest

          The most obvious offender of this insidious malady is Live4Him. She apparently dies this soley to annoy.

          December 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • doobzz

          L4H usually isn't worth responding to even if it manages to post correctly. The only way to address that is to ignore the new threads.

          December 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Topher

      Hey, dude. Answered below. Didn't see this posting until now.

      December 28, 2013 at 6:47 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.