On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI began facing his final hours of as the sitting religious leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Earlier that morning Pope Benedict XVI met with more than 100 cardinals who must now choose his replacement. His decision to stand down - the first pope to do so in six centuries - has thrown the Roman Catholic Church into a whirl of activity. This morning, the CNN contributor Father Edward Beck joins “Starting Point” to talk about his resignation.
Regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, Beck says, “there's a lot of talk that the Catholic Church is in the developing world, in Africa and Asia, so I want to go out a limb and I want to throw someone out from the developing nation of the Philippines, Cardinal Tagle.”
In November of last year at age 55, Tagle became the world's second youngest cardinal. Beck says Tagle also interesting because "he is so humble.”
“When he was bishop in… the Philippines, he would ride his bicycle. He would encounter all the people on the streets. He would invite the poor in his residence to eat,” Father Beck says.
On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI pledged an "unconditional obedience" and respect to whoever takes up the reins after his dramatic resignation. During his final hours as pope he is expected to depart the Courtyard of San Damaso in his chopper and land in Castel Gandolfo – his temporary retirement home. Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in six centuries. At 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), the pope will officially be in retirement. This morning Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK joins "Starting Point" to discuss the pope’s resignation becoming effective today.
Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy is defined by two significant and historic factors, Campbell says. The first is “his amazing teaching with regards to the economic challenges of our globalized world and really challenging the first world to be mindful of justice for everyone.” The second revolves around the “fact that he acknowledged his limitations in aging and has resigned. I think it was a very courageous act on his part and I think that boldness hopefully will help open up some new opportunities in the church.”
Campbell, who also serves as a member of the Sisters of Social Service, says the likelihood that the new pope will push hard to change the role for women within the Catholic Church is “probably slim to none.” She however remains hopeful adding “as we embrace reality of our modern world, women are moving more into roles of leadership and, quite frankly, the church needs us there more than they ever have. And so I think maybe it's going to happen just by doing. Often law follows practice, not leads practice.”
Pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?," joins "Starting Point" on Thursday to discuss his updated bestseller and how the culture of religion in the United States has changed in the past ten years.
"The audience has changed," Pastor Warren explains. "A girl who was 12 years old when the book came out is now 22. She needs to know her purpose. I really refocused the book for people in their 20s and 30s who may have ignored it 10 years ago."
He also adds that new technology encouraged him to update his bestseller, which now offers 30-minute audio teachings in each chapter.
In addition to his updated book, Pastor Warren discusses how Christianity has changed in the United States since his bestseller was first published. "Cultural Christianity is dying," he says. "True Christianity is not." He adds that while fewer people today may identify with the term "Protestant," it does not mean that the Church is dying.
From his television sermons that reach millions across the country, to his podcasts and his bestselling books, Joel Osteen is trying to bring his ministry to homes around the world.
Osteen is one of the most recognizable faces of Christianity in America today and he's recently added a new book to his repertoire, "I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life."
In the book, Osteen lists a declaration a day for 31 days to help the reader set the tone for his/her day and explore his/her personal relationship with God.
Osteen sits down with Soledad O'Brien and the "Starting Point" team today to explain why he thinks that daily affirmations can have a positive affect on people's lives. The pastor also discusses the church's position on homosexuality.
Just two days after democrats pulled up stakes and left Charlotte, N.C. after their convention, the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) held an event there. The two conservative groups co-hosted a nationwide, live simulcast event at the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, encouraging Christians to get out to the polls. It was called "I-Pledge," and simulcast to churches across the country. Headliners included former Senator Rick Santorum and actor and producer Kirk Cameron.
Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council. Perkins also served as host for the I-Pledge event which he says was “a call to faith, family and freedom.” “It was a call for them to pray for our nation, pray for our leaders, the upcoming election, to prepare registering…and then taking the pledge to vote on November 6th.
This morning on “Starting Point” the FRC president also weighed in on the Democrats claiming oversight in their recent convention platform changes. “I guess its kind of a challenge to make room for God on the tray,” says Perkins. “I guess it was oversight. They say it’s an oversight. Ok. …but nobody two days into the convention…Mr. President we didn’t, we forgot to put in that we support unlimited access to taxpayer funding of abortion.”
Last month, a Virginia man shot a security guard at the Family Research Council in Washington. Perkins says the Security guard named Leo Johnson is “doing much better. He had a little setback. He had to go back into the hospital. We expect him to make a full recovery.”
The shooting which was believed to be politically driven against members of the FRC who voiced opposition to gay marriages has various conservative groups coming forward and sharing stories of being targeted. Perkins says, “We come with different views and we arrive at a consensus but when you start using these packed and loaded words that are designed to incite and entice people that becomes very destructive.”
The reopening of a controversial mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has been delayed by years of protests and lawsuits. Today, the mosque will hold its first prayers with a week left in the Holy Month of Ramadan. The opening occurs after another mosque located in Joplin, Missouri was burned down. Federal investigators are still looking for information and looking into this as possible arson.
CNN’s George Howell discusses his exclusive look at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Stephen Baldwin talks about his role in the movie, "Loving the Bad Man" about a woman who gives birth to a baby conceived during rape. A born-again Christian, Baldwin discusses his personal path to forgiveness and why he felt drawn to a movie centered around faith.
Baldwin also talks with the Starting Point team about his teenage daughters, heated political discussions at the family table and whether he thinks his brother Alec should run for Mayor of New York City.
President Obama announced a new immigration policy last week, which allows some young illegal immigrants in the U.S. to stay to work without the fear of being deported.
The President's policy is applicable to illegal immigrants who are under 30 years old; came to the U.S. before the age of 16; have lived in the U.S. for more than 5 years; are in high school, graduated high school, have their GED or are enrolled in the military; and who pose no legal or security threat.
Before the announcement, presidential advisers met with Evangelical Christian leaders to discuss "The Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform." Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was one of the leaders in attendance.
This morning on "Starting Point," Soledad talks with Dr. Land, who says attendees discussed immigration reform in relation to certain principles, such as "respecting the God-given dignity of every human person, respecting the unity of the immediate family, respecting the rule of law, calling for secure national borders and then calling for a pathway to either citizenship or full legal status."
Dr. Land adds that "this is the low-hanging fruit of immigration reform. These young people - 99.9 % of them have done nothing wrong. They didn't bring themselves here."
The battle over contraceptive access has been an ongoing conversation for the better part of 2012, with many arguing that the president's health care law infringes on religious rights laid out by the first amendment of the Constitution.
Under the original wording of the Affordable Care Act, all employers would be required to provide contraceptives free-of-copay to their employees.
In a revisionary statement issued last February, President Obama exempted religious hospitals and schools from directly providing birth control to their employees and instead designated that responsibility to insurance companies.
For the University of Notre Dame and 42 other Catholic institutions, that revision is not enough, and they've decided to sue the Obama administration.
Notre Dame Law Professor Carter Snead says it "seems unnecessary" for the the Affordable Care Act to involve the Catholic Church on Starting Point this morning.
"If the government wanted to provide maximum access to these kinds of drugs, there are ways to do it without conscripting us into the process," Snead argues.
On the other side of the aisle, Catholics United member Samantha Groark says that she thinks the lawsuit "does a great disservice to the religious identity of the church."
Less emphasis, she says, is currently placed on what she considers to be primary issues concerning the Catholic faith: "helping the poor, welcoming the immigrant other, and ending US sponsored torture in prison camps."
Instead, Groark stresses, a lot of "time, resources and energy is being funneled into these partisan, political issues."
After years of saying that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving," President Obama stated that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News yesterday.
Obama's announcement came a day after North Carolina passed an amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, a provision which was supported by the president of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins.
Perkins joins Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" today to explain why he is opposed to same-sex marriage, saying that it's a "redefinition of marriage" that "intentionally create environments where kids grow up without moms and dads."
Perkins also weighs in on the potential political repercussions of Obama's announcement, saying that "some in the Romney campaign were certainly celebrating" the president's endorsement, as he may have given Romney' campaign "the missing piece" when it comes to igniting conservative enthusiasm for the candidate.