February 19th, 2014
11:35 AM ET
Opinion by Laurence England, special to CNN
(CNN) - In the year since Francis was elected Pope, the media have told us a certain story about this man “from the ends of the Earth,” as he once described himself.
Francis, we are told, is warm and friendly, gentle and compassionate. He embraces the poor, the disfigured, the outcast.
These attributes pose a sharp contrast, we are informed, to his mean-spirited, judgmental and arrogant predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was known for his fancy vestments and aloof, academic attitude.
If Francis has the common touch, the story goes, Benedict was firmly out of touch, perched on an ivory tower far inside the Vatican.
To many Catholics this media-driven contrast between the two Popes is laughable.
December 24th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(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.
September 24th, 2013
02:05 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Retired Pope Benedict XVI says he never tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, breaking his post-retirement silence to address one of the greatest threats to his legacy as a church leader.
In a lengthy letter published in La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, the former pope answered theological and moral arguments from Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician who had written about Benedict in 2011.
Earlier this month, La Repubblica also published a letter to its atheist editor from Pope Francis, Benedict's successor.
September 21st, 2013
11:41 AM ET
By John L. Allen Jr., CNN
ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis has sketched a vision of a Catholic Church that’s more welcoming – to women, to homosexuals, to divorced and remarried believers, to pretty much everybody –- and less invested in the culture wars.
In a now famous interview published Thursday, the pope said he knows some militants want him to toss around more fire and brimstone. But he insists that Catholic positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage are already well known, and anyway, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
None of that implies a change in church teaching, but it does suggest a fairly serious shift in tone. The question now becomes, is this just the pope talking? Or is he capable of bringing the rest of the church along with him?
July 29th, 2013
06:30 PM ET
By Kyle Almond, CNN
(CNN) - Perhaps it's fitting that the pope's first news conference was held onboard an airplane. Since Monday morning his comments have soared around the globe at high speed.
His remarks on homosexuality filled many Catholics with hope, especially those longing for the church to accept gays and lesbians more openly.
But they also discouraged others, including those who believe the Catholic Church should ordain women.
Some social media commenters said they were just plain confused.
The pope was flying back from a weeklong visit to Brazil, his first international trip as pontiff, when he talked to reporters about a wide range of controversial topics.
June 11th, 2013
01:35 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican, a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor's papacy.
“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”
“The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”
Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.
The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV's shocking decision to resign earlier this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.
February 18th, 2013
10:01 AM ET
By Livia Borghese and Laura Smith-Spark for CNN
Rome (CNN) - The cardinals who must pick a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he steps down on February 28 could meet to make the decision sooner than thought, a Vatican spokesman said Saturday.
The conclave, the meeting which will bring together the 117 cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, could start before March 15 if all the cardinals are already in Rome, Father Federico Lombardi said.
Lombardi had previously said the conclave was likely to start between March 15 and 19.
But he gave new details Saturday, saying that because the pope had resigned rather than the conclave being triggered by his death, there was scope for the time frame to be brought forward.
The decision may not come until after Benedict's departure and lies in the hands of the cardinals, he added.FULL STORY
October 21st, 2012
01:56 PM ET
By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - Sunday was a big day for Catholics in North America. Thousands of miles away in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI named 17th century Mohawk Kateri Tekakwitha the first Native American saint.
Another newly named saint is Marianne Cope, a German-born woman who emigrated to the United States as a child, became a nun and went on to devote 30 years of her life helping lepers in Hawaii.
Their canonization, along with that of five other saints, was celebrated at a special Mass in St. Peter's Square Sunday morning.
"This is a great weekend for America in the Vatican, and it's really a great weekend for Native Americans. Sainthood is the guarantee that this person is close to God," said Vatican senior communications adviser Greg Burke.
"There's a vast history of people the Catholic Church has made saints over the centuries. Holiness is absolutely a matter of equal opportunity, but this certainly is special because it marks the first time a Native American becomes a saint."FULL STORY
May 31st, 2012
01:39 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI's spokesman has denied the pontiff will resign over the arrest of his butler on suspicion of leaking confidential documents, the Vatican press office said Thursday.
During a Wednesday meeting with journalists to answer questions about the situation, the Rev. Frederico Lombardi said the "hypothesis" advanced by some media outlets that the pope would resign are "baseless creations of some journalists, which have no foundation in reality."
Butler Paolo Gabriele, 46, was arrested last week and accused of illegal possession of confidential documents. Lombardi said Wednesday that Gabriele has met with his attorneys, "who will probably request monitored surveillance or house arrest for their client."
Gabriele, one of only a handful of people with access to the pontiff's private desk, has been charged with aggravated theft for allegedly stealing private documents, Lombardi said earlier. He is suspected of leaking the papers to an Italian journalist.FULL STORY
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.