Scenes from Pope Benedict XVI's last day
March 8th, 2013
11:57 AM ET

Cardinals set pope election date

The Catholic cardinals gathered in Rome voted Friday to begin the secret election, or conclave, to elect a new pope next Tuesday afternoon, the Vatican said.

The 115 cardinal-electors taking part in the conclave will enter the closed-door process after a morning Mass, the Vatican said. Only those younger than 80 are eligible to vote.

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All cardinal-electors are at Vatican
Archbishops (purple hats) and cardinals (red hats) sit in St Peter's Square on February 27 in Vatican City.
March 7th, 2013
03:20 PM ET

All cardinal-electors are at Vatican

All 115 cardinal-electors are now in the Vatican ahead of a conclave to elect a new pope, Vatican spokesman Tom Rosica said on Thursday.

No date has been set for the conclave, or secret election, for the new pope, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

But Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, suggested that the announcement might not be far away in a tweet posted Thursday.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Christian • Religion • Vatican
Last cardinal-elector due at Vatican tomorrow
A prayer service is held in the Sistine Chapel on October 31, 2012. The papal conclave will happen here.
March 6th, 2013
07:38 AM ET

Last cardinal-elector due at Vatican tomorrow

Slowly but surely, the Catholic Church's cardinals are putting themselves in position to elect a new pope.

All but two of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are now in Rome, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi announced Wednesday. One more is due to arrive this afternoon, and the last one on Thursday, he said.

No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the successor to former pontiff Benedict XVI, who resigned last week. For more on today's developments at the Vatican, read this story.

Interactive: A look at possible papal contenders

How is a new pope elected?

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Christian • Religion • Vatican
Abuse victims' group blacklists cardinals
Archbishops (purple hats) and cardinals (red hats) sit in St. Peter's Square on February 27, 2013, in Vatican City.
March 6th, 2013
05:48 AM ET

Abuse victims' group blacklists cardinals

A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests on Wednesday named a "Dirty Dozen" list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims.

Their presence on the list is based "on their actions and/or public comment about child sex abuse and cover up in the church," the group said.

The list includes cardinals from several countries.

SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on press reports, legal filings and victims' statements.

The cardinals on the list have not yet responded to the move by SNAP.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Christian • Religion
Sistine Chapel closing for conclave preparations
A prayer service is held in the Sistine Chapel on October 31, 2012.
March 5th, 2013
07:54 AM ET

Sistine Chapel closing for conclave preparations

The Sistine Chapel is closing to the public Tuesday afternoon so that Catholic officials can prepare for an eventual conclave to elect a new pope, the Vatican announced.

Catholic cardinals have yet to announce when the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor would start. On Monday they began a series of meetings designed to, among other things, decide when the conclave will begin. They were due to continue these meetings, known as General Congregations, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Christian • Religion • Vatican
No claim yet for Pakistan bomb that killed 42
Pakistani rescuers gather in front of the flames.
March 4th, 2013
01:47 AM ET

No claim yet for Pakistan bomb that killed 42

No group has stepped forward so far to claim responsibility for a massive car bombing in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi that killed at least 42 people over the weekend in what appeared to be the latest attack on the Shiite minority in the country.

The blast Sunday tore into nearby buildings, wounding about 145 people, and authorities warned that the death toll could rise as rescue workers continued to search for bodies amid the rubble.

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Filed under: Islam • Pakistan
Embattled Cardinal O'Brien apologizes for 'my sexual conduct'
Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland resigned last month.
March 3rd, 2013
12:47 PM ET

Embattled Cardinal O'Brien apologizes for 'my sexual conduct'

Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, who has been dogged by allegations he abused four men studying to be priests in the 1980s, said in a statement Sunday that "there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

O'Brien, who resigned last month, did not explicitly state what he had done or what allegations against him are true. "In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them," he said in the statement.

He apologized "to those I have offended" and to "the Catholic Church and people of Scotland."

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Religion • Vatican • World
March 1st, 2013
07:13 AM ET

Church's cardinals to start meeting Monday

The events that will lead to the election of a new pope are starting to take shape.

The Catholic Church's cardinals will start general congregations meetings that precede a conclave to elect a new pope on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Vatican (3:30 a.m. ET), with a second session set for later that day, according to a letter issued Friday by the dean of the College of Cardinals.

Setting a date for the conclave to elect the new pope will be among the items on the agenda. The previous pope, Benedict XVI, resigned Thursday.

Possible papal contenders

February 28th, 2013
02:10 PM ET

Benedict: I'm 'simply a pilgrim' now

  • Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, takes effect at 2 p.m. ET (8 p.m. in Rome)
  • Benedict now in papal retreat 15 miles from Vatican; tells crowd he's starting the last part of his pilgrimage on Earth
  • Benedict, 85, met with cardinals Thursday morning, pledges his "unconditional obedience" to the next pope
  • Updates below; full story here; see CNN Mexico's coverage in Spanish

[Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET] Uniformed police officers have now taken over the task of guarding the pope emeritus. When his papacy ended 10 minutes ago, Swiss Guards left their posts, closed the doors of Castel Gandolfo, and hung up their halberds.

[Updated at 2 p.m. ET] The papacy of Benedict XVI is now officially over, ending a pontificate in retirement rather than death for the first time in nearly 600 years.

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February 28th, 2013
08:54 AM ET

Vatican: Phone taps might have been OK'd

Vatican magistrates may have authorized the tapping of two or three telephone lines during the investigation into leaks from the pope's private apartments, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi was responding to a report in the Italian weekly magazine Panorama claiming that there had been a large-scale wiretapping and surveillance operation during the investigation. He denied there had been "a massive" operation on the scale reported by the magazine, saying there was "no foundation" for the article.

If there was any wiretapping or surveillance, "it's a very small process," Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica said. Both spokesmen denied that the operation had been ordered by the three cardinals commissioned to write a report into the scandal, saying that if it had happened, it was ordered by magistrates.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Italy • Religion
February 27th, 2013
04:14 AM ET

Thousands bid farewell to pope

[Updated at 6:59 a.m. ET] In his final general audience, Pope Benedict XVI told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square about his own spiritual journey through eight years as pontiff.

Dressed all in white and looking serene, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics called for a renewal of faith.

As he finished, cheers erupted from the crowd in the square acknowledged by Benedict, who is steeping down tomorrow, with an open-armed embrace.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Christian • Religion
Vatican reveals Pope Benedict XVI's new title
February 26th, 2013
07:27 AM ET

Vatican reveals Pope Benedict XVI's new title

[Updated at 8:26 a.m. ET] We're getting details about the future of the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

The pontiff will keep the name Benedict XVI and the title "his holiness" once he retires. He also will be known as pope emeritus, emeritus pope or Roman pontifex emeritus, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican on Tuesday.

Benedict surprised the world when he announced earlier this month that he would retire effective this Thursday.

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Pope's Twitter account to end when he leaves
Pope Benedict XVI clicks on a tablet to send his first Twitter message at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on December 12.
February 22nd, 2013
11:43 AM ET

Pope's Twitter account to end when he leaves

This will be one short-lived Twitter feed.

When Pope Benedict XVI leaves office on February 28, his Twitter presence as @Pontifex will also come to an end, according to Vatican Radio.

Benedict has been active on Twitter for only about two and a half months, but more than 2 million people have chosen to follow his tweets in nine languages.

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Religion • Vatican
Tebow pulls out of church speech
February 21st, 2013
02:48 PM ET

Tebow pulls out of church speech

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has canceled an appearance at a controversial Dallas-area church. The outspoken Christian quarterback was scheduled to speak at First Baptist Church on April 28.

The church is led by Robert Jeffress, who has been widely criticized for views against homosexuality, Islam and Mormonism. Tebow, announcing his decision Thursday on Twitter, said that he was canceling his appearance "due to new information that has been brought to my attention."

Tebow's statement appeared over a series of four tweets on the social media site.

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Filed under: Religion • Sports
Pope Benedict XVI
February 12th, 2013
07:08 AM ET

No specific illness forced Pope Benedict to step down, spokesman says

The pope is not suffering from any specific disease that forced him to resign, his spokesman said Tuesday. He is resigning because he does not feel he has the strength to continue, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.

Lombardi emphasized that Benedict remains pope until Feb. 28, when his resignation takes effect.

Read more:

His resignation letter | Your reaction

From cop's son to pope | Friend reacts

Why now? | What's next? | Who's next?

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Religion • World
February 11th, 2013
11:15 AM ET

Will Benedict 'resign' or 'abdicate' as pope?

When Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would step down at the end of the month, an interesting debate sprang up: Do popes resign or abdicate?

Read the pope's letter

In English, the pope said he is renouncing his role at the end of the month "because of advanced age."  In some other languages, he uses the word "vacating."

This is a rare situation; the last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415.

But it turns out there is some specific language to help guide the linguistics of it all.

"Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone," according to laws that guide the church.

So according to those rules, the correct word to describe the pope's actions would be resignation.

But many people have been calling the pope’s announcement an abdication. That word normally applies in a royal context, when the person who leaves their position has an immediate successor in place.

In this case, the cardinals will vote on a new pope.

Papal resignation: What happens next

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Religion • World
February 11th, 2013
07:34 AM ET

Monday's live events

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address before Congress on February 12.  Watch CNN.com Live for all of your political coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

Ongoing coverage: The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

12:30 pm ET - White House briefing - Tomorrow's State of the Union address and gun violence will likely dominate Press Secretary Jay Carney's briefing with the White House press corps.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Gun violence • On CNN.com today • Politics • Religion • Vatican
February 10th, 2013
03:06 PM ET

Ten killed in India festival stampede

At least 10 people died Sunday in a railroad station stampede in northern India as tens of millions flocked to the banks of the Ganges River for a Hindu religious festival, a railway spokesman said.

The crush took place in Allahabad, the site of this year's Kumbh Mela festival, where Hindu pilgrims gather to bathe in the Ganges. Railway spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena blamed overcrowding for the crush, but said details were "sketchy."

There was no immediate comment from police or officials from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "deeply shocked" by the deaths and promised to extend "all possible help" to state authorities.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery," Singh said in a statement issued by his office.

Kumbh Mela is billed as the world's largest religious gathering and the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages. Devotees believe that washing themselves in the Ganges frees them from past sins.

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Filed under: Hinduism • India • Religion
January 28th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

French-led forces now 'control' Timbuktu, France says

[Updated 11:55 a.m. ET] French Defense Ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhardt says French and Malian forces are now in control of Timbuktu and Gao.

[Posted at 4:30 a.m. ET] French-led troops in Mali have seized control of the airport in Timbuktu from Islamist militants and are fighting their way into the city center, a spokesman for the Malian military said Monday.

Malian and French forces have together been battling the Islamists to loosen their grip on the country's north, which the militants have controlled for months.

The United States has also stepped up its involvement in the conflict by conducting aerial refueling missions on top of the intelligence and airlift support it was providing.

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Filed under: France • Islam • Mali
Iran sentences U.S. pastor to 8 years in prison, group says
Saeed Abedini, a resident of Idaho, was charged wtih trying to undermine the Iranian government.
January 27th, 2013
05:20 PM ET

Iran sentences U.S. pastor to 8 years in prison, group says

An Iranian judge has sentenced an American Christian pastor to eight years in prison after he was tried for his religious beliefs, a U.S.-based religious group said Sunday.

Saeed Abedini was swiftly sentenced by a member of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Court, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson.

CNN was not immediately able to confirm what went on in the court proceedings.

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Filed under: Iran • Religion • World
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