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The Pope opens up

September 19th, 2013
03:05 PM ET

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour speaks with Father James Martin, editor of the Jesuit Journal "America,” about his magazine’s wide-ranging interview with Pope Francis.

Is Pope Francis endorsing Brazil protests?

July 25th, 2013
10:18 AM ET

By Mick Krever and Juliet Fuisz, CNN

In his first international trip, Pope Francis has travelled to Brazil, a country wracked in recent weeks by massive street protests.

So is the pontiff, with his message of social change and revival within the church, endorsing the activism of Brazilian youth?

“The core message that he's trying to deliver to young people on this trip is that he wants young people to see themselves as inserted into the struggles of society,” CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen told Christiane Amanpour from Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.

New direction for traditional faith

May 15th, 2013
05:55 AM ET

Father Thomas Rosica speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the new directions Pope Francis is taking the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis rejects papal apartment

March 27th, 2013
05:56 PM ET

Pope Francis has been shunning the frills of his new job and this time he is choosing a new more modest apartment as his home for now.

Filed under:  Catholic Church

Is the new pope powerful enough to change the Church?

March 15th, 2013
11:06 AM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Many Jesuits are stunned that a Jesuit is now Pope.

"Saint Ignatius never intended for Jesuits to have positions of power, authority or influence in the Church,” Father Joseph McShane told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “So we were always told from the day we entered there would never be a Jesuit Pope and now we have one. We are all stunned."

McShane is President of Fordham University in New York and even though he didn’t expect the selection of then-Cardinal Bergoglio, he believes Pope Francis has the background to reform.

The new pope must confront a crises and crimes that have rocked the Church over the last decade.

To tackle the sex abuse catastrophe McShane said the new Pope would be “wise to listen to the American bishops” who are advocating for a policy of zero tolerance throughout the Church.

“More importantly, he has to say that whenever such an act, such a sin, such a crime is reported, the first concern is for the victim and the victim's family,” McShane said.

But is Pope Francis powerful enough to make sure the curia and the Catholic hierarchy abide by that?

“I don't know if it's a question of ‘is he powerful enough?’ I think it's a question of ‘is he brave enough to call it out,’” McShane said.

He believes Pope Francis is.

“If you look at what he has done in Buenos Aires with his own priests, it is clear,” McShane told Amanpour. “I'm sure you've read the stories about him excoriating priests who refused to baptize children who were born out of wedlock – calling them the new Pharisees, a new class of hypocrites, who forgot that the Lord ate with prostitutes and sought out sinners. So I think he's brave enough and direct enough to do this.”

Filed under:  Catholic Church • Latest Episode

Choosing Francis: Behind locked doors

March 14th, 2013
06:57 PM ET

According to veteran Vatican journalist Marco Politi, the initial traction in the papal vote was not for then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

“From the first leaks we understand that there was a strong candidate,” Politi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “The Italian Archbishop of Milan, Scola, who entered the conclave with the strong determination of his supporters to make him Pope But in the first ballots he couldn’t provoke an ‘avalanche effect’ to get more and more votes.”

Politi said that Scola then stopped campaigning and a compromise “bridge builder” like Cardinal Bergoglio began to lead the way and that man is now Pope Francis.

In the video above Politi shares other fascinating details about the papal vote.

Filed under:  Catholic Church • Latest Episode

Everyone surprised by pope's selection, except this man

March 14th, 2013
05:51 PM ET

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's name was not name in the media as one of the papal front runners in the past few weeks, even though it had been reported that Bergoglio came second to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

When CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about those reports, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick simply said, "That is what they say.” McCarrick would know if that is true, because he participated in the 2005 vote — keeping the promise he took to ever reveal details of that election.

Even though McCarrick didn't take part in Thursday's vote, he told Amanpour he wasn't surprised Bergoglio was selected. The media may not have seen it coming, but McCarrick said "many of us had thought about it beforehand." McCarrick believes that time was on Bergoglio's side; that with each inconclusive vote, it became more likely that the cardinals would gravitate toward Cardinal Bergoglio.

In the video above you can watch Amanpour's full interview with McCarrick and hear his thoughts about how a Latin American Pope could change the Catholic Church.

Filed under:  Catholic Church • Latest Episode

Can the pope be fired?

March 12th, 2013
07:44 PM ET

Since Benedict XVI announced his resignation as pope, Church observers have been pondering whether a new precedent has been set. Could papal resignations become more commonplace? Could a pope even be fired?

“No, a pope could not be fired,” Cardinal Edward Egan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour unequivocally on Tuesday. But he did leave open the possibility of a new precedent for popes to resign.

“The years do have an effect on all of us. And it can be that, at a certain point, our health is such that we aren't able to handle the job that has been assigned us,” Egan told Amanpour.

He compared it to the president of CNN, saying that if that person’s health was in decline he too might consider stepping down.

Amanpour replied, “Well, the head of CNN is obviously not infallible. The pope is.”

Egan acknowledged that there has not been much history of popes resigning in the Catholic Church, but said that that fact alone does not make it unacceptable.

“This wonderful man [Joseph Ratzinger] felt that he needed to step aside,” he said. “I suspect it was reasons of health. I have no inside information. He made the decision and I would say that I'm at peace with the decision. And I think the Catholic world is at peace with the decision.”

Filed under:  Catholic Church • catholicism • Latest Episode

Tracing the cover-up to the Vatican

March 7th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

By Samuel Burke & Juliet Fuisz, CNN

Pope Benedict XVI bears personal responsibility for not holding sexually abusive priests in the Catholic Church accountable, alleges the director of a new documentary, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.”

“From 2001 to 2005, as cardinal, [Benedict] ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And in that office, he looked over every sex abuse case that there was all over the world. So he's the most knowledgeable person in the world about this issue,” director Alex Gibney told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Then, as pope, he presided, as more and more information about this came out. And he was pretty much utterly ineffective in being able to stem the tide.”

Gibney, whose documentaries have taken on complicated characters from Jack Abramoff to Dick Cheney, says Benedict took some positive steps: “He did make some apologies. He did blame some bishops. But he took no responsibility for the Vatican itself. So, in a way, I think this whole sex abuse crisis engulfed Benedict.”

“Mea Maxima Culpa” focuses on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, an American priest who is accused of molesting as many as 200 boys at St. John's School for the Deaf. The film traces his case to the highest levels of Church power.

A former student at the school, Terry Kohut, told the filmmakers about a time he was alone in Father Murphy’s office. He says the priest asked him to take off his pants.

“I was looking at this man in a black suit with a white collar. I thought to myself, he's a priest and I'm supposed to obey him. So I took my pants down and he molested me. I felt sick and confused. Why would a priest do that to me?” Kohut described all these years later, using sign language.

The filmmaker believes that Father Murphy went after deaf children whose parents could not sign, so they could not even tell their families what was happening to them.

“But at the end of the day, there was no real punishment at all for Father Murphy, even though the deaf students and, indeed, one archbishop tried to reach out to then Cardinal Ratzinger to have this man defrocked. It never happened. And so he was buried in his priestly vestments. No punishment at all was meted out on him.”

Mea Maxima Culpa is Latin for “my most grievous fault.” There are no interviews with Vatican officials in the documentary, which is why Gibney says the subtitle of the film is "Silence in the House of God."

“Sadly, there was utter silence,” he told Amanpour. “And I not only went to the Vatican, but I also went to the most high-ranking prelate in the United States, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and asked him over and over and over again to please speak to us. And once again, the answer that came back was silence.”

Many practicing Roman Catholics participated in the film. Gibney believes they took part because they hope to change the Church.

“It's a system-wide problem,” Gibney said. “Unless the church reckons with it, it's going to come crashing down."

READ MORE: How do cardinals pick a pope? 'You don’t pick your buddy'

Filed under:  Catholic Church • Latest Episode

Meet the man who could be the first black pope

February 12th, 2013
07:31 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

You don't have to be Catholic to care about who the next Pope will be.

The guessing game about who will replace Benedict XVI has begun, and near the top of many lists is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

The Catholic Church is growing fastest in Africa and Asia, so many are wondering if the next Pope might come from outside Europe.

“It is certainly possible to have a Cardinal come from the Southern part of the globe,” Turkson told CNN’s Christaine Amanpour on Tuesday, citing the long history of the Church in Latin America and Cardinals from Africa and Asia now taking important leadership positions. “So the possibility that a candidate, or that any of the Cardinals, to be elected Pope can come from the southern part of the globe is very real.”

When Amanpour asked Turkson about the possibility of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal spreading to Africa, he said it would unlikely be in the same proportion as it has in Europe.

“African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency,” he said. “Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced in our society.”

According to the American Psychological Association, "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are."

Turkson acknowledged that many Catholic nuns have been driven out of the church because they are prevented from joining the top levels of the Church and becoming priests, but he defended the practice as part of Catholic tradition.

“If one does not have access to ordination is not discrimination,” he said, but rather “it is just how the church has understood this order of ministry to be.”

You can watch the interview with the possible papal contender in the video above.

READ MORE: Pope’s friend ‘not surprised’ by Benedict XVI’s decision

Filed under:  Catholic Church • Latest Episode
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