Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope
Comedian Stephen Colbert roasted Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Thursday night.
October 18th, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) -- Declaring himself  "American's most famous Catholic," comedian Stephen Colbert roasted church leaders at a charity event in New York on Thursday, taking aim at Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

"As an observant Catholic, I believe the Pope is infallible," said Colbert, a Communion-class teacher at a parish in New Jersey. "But he's also wrong about a lot of things."

Colbert, whose bombastic persona on the "Colbert Report" often takes a conservative slant on Christianity, poked fun at the new Pope's humble lifestyle, saying that if the pontiff were in charge of the white-tie charity event, it would have been held at an IHOP, not New York's glitzy Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

“His Humbleness would be out washing the feet of the coat-check guy or something,” Colbert quipped. "We get it, you're modest."

"But it's not just his humble lifestyle," Colbert continued. "He's off message. He says Catholics need to stop obsessing about homosexuality, contraception and abortion. For Pete's sake, we need something to obsess about now that `Breaking Bad' is over."

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

The Catholic comedian also teased Pope Francis for taking a softer line on Catholic doctrine than previous pontiffs.

"Being Catholic is like being in the Admiral's Club of Christianity: Membership has its privileges," Colbert joked. "But if even atheists can be redeemed, what's next, Lutherans?  It's madness."

MORE ON CNN: Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

Colbert was speaking at the Al Smith Dinner, an annual event for Catholic charities in New York named after the the late New York governor who in 1928 was the first Catholic politician to be nominated for president by a major party.

The charity dinner is usually attended by New York's cultural elite. Last year, President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney attended and traded zingers less than a month before the election.

This year's event was less politically charged, but Colbert quipped about another kind of election.

Dolan, the portly archbishop of New York and a rising star in the Catholic Church, came thisclose to being elected pope himself earlier this year, Colbert said.

"But he blew it in the swimsuit competition. I would have gone with the one-piece."

On Thursday night, Dolan, who was dressed in a cardinal's traditional small black cape with red trimming, looked like "a matador who's really let himself go," Colbert joked.

"Did you not see the invite? It said white-tie, not 'flamboyant Zorro."

Dolan, who is close friends with Colbert, took the ribbing lightly, saying that his father always told him that the mark of a good night is any one that ends in laughter.

Dolan also quoted Colbert from an event on Catholics and comedy led by both men at Fordham University in the Bronx last year.

"A sense of humor comes from faith, a faith that everything is in God's providential hands, a faith that frees us up to laugh."

Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia has an audio recording of Colbert's keynote address

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Leaders • Media • Pope Francis

soundoff (772 Responses)
  1. Women Clothed with the Sun

    Shall my lovely women stand up in our HOLINESS, purified walking by example, attracting our Heavenly Other Half to bring more leveled, balanced mini creatures of Highest ofALL..........

    "saving the feminine" is my mission so we may all heal the planet and actually start LIVING once again in terms of Universal Laws that once we do not REBEL, yet in peacefulness come to grounding point of reunion with 5th God's Kingdom blending with us lietrally these moments, we are tobe enjoying these most historical ascension with SMILE on our faces, and so much high vibrancy, healthy spirit, body, whole auric system

    million divine KISSES
    yours MAMA

    January 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
  2. Collectively We Can Help

    The Holidays are upon us and This Charitable Fundraising Campaign needs our help! Please donate $10 or more at – https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/people-helping-people-f30a8821
    And also forward this to all of your contacts & followers throughout all of your social networks and ask them to help as well by donating just $10 dollars will help out immensely and will be greatly appreciated… Thank you

    December 15, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  3. MiamiC

    Pope Francis is wonderful. The Catholic Church has been out of touch with the World and its own followers for half a millennium, and he is going to bring it around. The Church will emerge from his papacy as a powerful instrument for reform and the betterment of Man, which is something we must always seek.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  4. Read/watch this

    Colbert should have him on the show.

    Published on Oct 25, 2013

    Peter Boghossian is a Philosophy professor at Portland State College, where his main focus is bringing the tools of professional philosophers to people in a wide variety of contexts. Dr. Boghossian's primary research areas are critical thinking and moral reasoning. His is the author of the forthcoming book A Manual for Creating Atheists.

    Pope might not like it.

    November 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • mike

      Preachy atheists are as annoying as any preachy religious nut. Knock it off. You're as bad as they are.

      November 27, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • John H.

        Other than what the religious preach is unproven drivel. At least the atheist preaches withholding judgement till we have proof. So the two are not even on the same planet.

        November 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  5. hermittalker

    Thank God for a practising member who can poke fun without being vulgarly insulting as do the many night-time unfunny men.

    November 24, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Science Works

      A must read.

      The state of Texas is the talking snake no ?

      Bill Nye: Debate Over Evolution In Texas Schools Is Jeopardizing Our Future

      Posted: 11/23/2013 5:01 pm EST | Updated: 11/23/2013 7:28 pm EST

      And another part of the problem is the RCC's biblical stand on procreation when they teach and supposedly understand evolution.

      Evolution should not be up for debate.

      November 25, 2013 at 7:19 am |
      • Rene Castaneda

        Yes, it should. Evolution is just a theory...not a law.

        November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • Science Works

          Rene Castaneda

          Look up 5 laws of Evolution.

          Scientists Find Brain Region That Helps You Make Up Your Mind

          The lateral habenula is considered one of the oldest regions of the brain, evolution-wise, the researchers say.


          November 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • dave

          Genesis is just a story. The Bible is a religious book not a science book and not a history book. You read the Bible to learn about God, not biology. The stories in the Bible are metaphors and exaggerations meant to teach lessons about the relationship between God and man. No one ever lived to be 900 years old.

          November 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • mike

          Rene, OK, debate evolution, with another scientific theory. Creationism is not a theory in a scientific sense.

          November 27, 2013 at 9:53 am |
        • sarahfalin

          Surprise surprise! Another ding-bat that does not have a clue what a scientific theory means.

          November 27, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Rbnlegend

          You will want to learn about scientific terminology. In particular, the meaning of "theory" in a scientific context. In casual use "theory" means "an unproven idea". In science, a theory is a set of hypothesis which have been tested and which are reasonably well supported. A theory may be refined over time, and may be disproven, but in general, once something reaches the level of being established as a theory, it is fairly well supported and unlikely to be replaced entirely. Gravity is a theory. Germs causing disease is a theory. And yes, evoloution is a theory.

          In science, a law does not explain how or why something happens. A law states that a definitive verifiable cause and effect relationship exisits. It is a scientific law that pure water will freeze at 32 degrees. There is scientific theory that explains why that happens.

          November 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • John H.

          Google "not just a theory" and you will why your comment is asinine!

          November 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • John H.

          Correcting something. An edit button would be nice.

          Google "not just a theory" and you will see why your comment is asinine!

          November 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • a guy

        do people realize that most of this country is NOT catholic? Especially outside of the NE? B/c everytime something concerning religion happens in this country, everyone blames the Catholic church like that will change the beliefs of Lutherans, Baptists, etc.

        November 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • Jeremy

        The Church does not take the 7-day creationist view on the origin of the Universe and Evolution. We are free to believe what we want about that concept, so long as we stand that we became "ensouled" by God when the first man came into being. the Book of Genesis, as the RCC stands, is to be read as allegory-as in it provides many truths about our creation, without being a direct history book.

        December 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      @ hermittalker
      You do realize what satire is …right?

      This is the problem with religious types. They will believe anything they are told on face value.

      November 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  6. Mark Causey

    "I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen." ~ Crashing Vor

    November 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • dave

      Right on -- let's get back to the original idea of our Founding Fathers - all white male landowners are equal

      November 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.