January 13th, 2014
09:29 AM ET

Israel Holds State Memorial Ceremony for Ariel Sharon

International leaders and top Israeli officials attended a state memorial ceremony Monday for Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died last week.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were among those at the official ceremony outside Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

Under bright sunshine, rows of mourners gathered around Sharon's coffin, over which the blue-and-white Israeli flag was draped.

"You never rested when in service of your people, when defending your land and when making it flourish," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, who delivered a eulogy to Sharon at the beginning of the ceremony.

A towering military and political leader, Sharon died Saturday after eight years in a coma.

Peres, a friend and sometimes rival of Sharon, compared him to "a lion," saying he'd contributed "an unforgettable chapter" to Israel's history.

See more at CNN.com

Posted by ,
Filed under: News • Videos • World News
October 4th, 2013
11:11 AM ET

Pope Francis in Assisi

For a man with a message, his every move is full of symbolism and Pope Francis' pastoral visit to the hilltop Italian town of Assisi Friday is indeed long on meaning. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

It's the birthplace of Saint Francis, who some eight hundred years ago abandoned a life of wealth and privilege to serve the poor.

Since becoming pope, Francis has turned his back on the trappings of power, choosing to live in the modest Vatican residence, the Casa Santa Marta, and preferring to use a second hand car to drive around the Vatican.

He has stressed repeatedly he wants the Church to be a poor church serving the poor and in a recent interview published in an Italian newspaper, Francis condemned church leaders as narcistic and vain.

This week he held three days of closed door meetings with eight cardinals where they discussed ways to reform the church, its finances and its bureaucracy.

Some observers suggest Pope Francis may be more of a revolutionary than a reformer.

Posted by
Filed under: News • Videos