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February 27th, 2013
11:32 AM ET

Smoke signals: How is a new pope elected?

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - With Pope Benedict XVI leaving the papal office after resigning two weeks ago, the Catholic Church will have to rush to pick his replacement before Easter.

Normally, the College of Cardinals is not allowed to select a new pontiff until 15 to 20 days after the office becomes vacant - usually when the previous pope has died.

Benedict's resignation is a rare exception. The last man to quit the head of the Catholic Church did so 600 years ago.

The situation calls for some rule bending, and having the current pope involved is proving advantageous.

He has slightly amended the 500-year-old policy on pope selection to get a successor into place more rapidly.

The cardinals may to be able to pull it off before March 15, according to Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican: Pope may change rules to allow replacement vote sooner
Pope Benedict XVI walks in front the crib as he attends the Christmas night mass at the St. Peter's Basilica on December 24, 2012 in Vatican City.
February 20th, 2013
10:47 AM ET

Vatican: Pope may change rules to allow replacement vote sooner

From Hada Messia, CNN

(CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI is considering changing the Vatican constitution to allow a vote for his successor to begin before March 15, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday.

Benedict, 85, shocked the world last week when he announced his intention to stand down effective February 28, citing the frailty of old age.

Existing rules say the Roman Catholic Church's cardinals should start voting on a replacement from 15 to 20 days after the papal throne becomes vacant. With Benedict's resignation due to start February 28, the cardinals' conclave ordinarily would start no sooner than March 15.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI

January 2nd, 2013
12:34 PM ET

Nigerian forces kill 13 Boko Haram militants after church attacks

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Islamist militants in Nigeria's restive north have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.

On Tuesday, the country's military took the fight to Boko Haram's stronghold, killing 13 suspected combatants.

Read more: Nigeria guilty of abuses in pursuing Boko Haram militants

Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria's far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.

The task force condemned alleged Boko Haram attacks going back to July 2012 in a statement, calling them "incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings." These included attacks on mosques, churches and businesses.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Nigeria

Iranians seek relief in Christmas celebrations
Iranians shop for Christmas decorations in Tehran.
January 1st, 2013
12:38 PM ET

Iranians seek relief in Christmas celebrations

By Tara Kangarlou, CNN

(CNN)–Gold, red and green gift boxes decorated a large Christmas tree in a popular food court in the Islamic Republic’s bustling capital of Tehran. Nativity scenes of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus added color to the windows of shops across this lively city, a small symbol of the growing number of Iranians embracing the Christian holiday.

Iran has a population that is 98% Muslim, and the government is widely recognized for its repressive rulings, censorship and efforts to cut ties with the United States and the West, but more Iranians are openly celebrating Christmas and expressing their desires to be part of the global celebration.

On Christmas, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad released a statement praising Jesus as "the messenger of humanism and grace" and noted, "I believe that the sole way to save the man from severe moral, social and cultural crises is returning to the exalted teachings of the great messengers of God."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Christmas • Iran • Islam • Islamic law

December 7th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

Debunking 'weeping Jesus' forces exile

(CNN)–A man in India is living in exile after being charged with blasphemy for debunking a "weeping Jesus".

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity

Catholics to be allowed into the royal club (sort of)
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge married on April 29, 2011. Future royal weddings could see a Catholic marrying into the royal family.
December 5th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

Catholics to be allowed into the royal club (sort of)

By Matthew Fitzgerald, CNN

London (CNN)— Britain is about to change a 300-year-old rule. British kings and queens - who serve as the official leaders of the Church of England - will soon be allowed to marry Roman Catholics. The historic change will end a centuries-long ban on such interdenominational nuptials.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans last year to change the law, along with another historic amendment - the end of primogeniture, which says that males come ahead of their sisters in the order of succession, no matter who’s older.

It is a move that could affect the younger royals, including the newest member of the royal family, the baby that Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting next year.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity

Paris Hilton whips up a storm in holy Mecca
Paris Hilton, photographed here at a party at her private residence in Los Angeles last December, tweeted about the opening of her store in Mecca in November.
November 21st, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Paris Hilton whips up a storm in holy Mecca

By Catriona Davies and Latifa Azdi, for CNN

(CNN) - As an American socialite and hotel heiress, Paris Hilton has built up a global brand on her sexy image - and sometimes very few clothes.

But many believe she has gone a step too far in opening a store selling luxury items in the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Hilton's rise to worldwide fame was boosted in part by a homemade sex movie that went viral online in 2003, days before the debut of her reality TV series "The Simple Life."

This does not sit well with many in Mecca, which attracts three million Muslim pilgrims from around the world every year.

All Muslims who are able are expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, and non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city. Most Saudi women cover themselves fully with a black abaya.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Muslim

October 20th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

Mother Marianne becomes an American saint

By Jen Christensen, CNN

(CNN) - An American health care pioneer will receive the Roman Catholic Church's highest honor this weekend.

On Sunday, Mother Marianne Cope - along with another North American, Kateri Tekakwitha - will become a saint, a designation so difficult to achieve that only 10 other Americans have been canonized before her.

Saint Marianne Cope, as she will soon be known, may be best remembered for her work with patients suffering from Hansen's disease - or lepers, as they were called at the time.

In Hawaii in the late 1800s, people were so afraid of the disease that even those with simple, unrelated rashes were often banished to the remote island of Molokai. They remained at this leper colony for the rest of their lives, far away from family and friends. Their children became orphans.

An island priest who was worried about this health crisis wrote to nearly 50 different religious congregations asking for help. But the work was perceived as so dangerous that only Mother Marianne responded. Before she made her long journey to the remote islands, though, she radically changed medical practices on the mainland.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church

October 20th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

Muslim faithful converge for 2012 Hajj

(CNN)–A pilgrimage for millions of Muslims is under way at Islam's holiest site. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

Cheerleaders win temporary injunction in high-profile free speech case
October 18th, 2012
04:14 PM ET

Cheerleaders win temporary injunction in high-profile free speech case

By Jason Morris, CNN

Dallas (CNN)– Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games.

State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year.

Macy Matthews, a 15-year-old Kountze sophomore, was eating lunch at cheerleading camp last July when her friend Megan became inspired by images she saw on social media.

"She saw a picture on Pinterest of a team that had made a run-through sign with a scripture on it, and as we were sitting down eating, she showed us and asked if we would be interested in doing that for the football season. So, we all talked about it," Matthews remembered. "We all loved the idea and thought it was really cool and encouraging."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Courts

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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.

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