June 13th, 2013
02:15 PM ET

The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) –Pope Francis has challenged his flock of 1 billion Catholics not to be “starched Christians” who chat about theology over tea.

He’s been taking his own advice.

Since his election in March, Francis has delivered sharp and unscripted remarks on everything from homosexuality to atheism to his unlikely election to the seat of St. Peter.

Anyone who bet the 76-year-old Jesuit from Argentina would become Supreme Pontiff likely won a lot of dough, Francis joked on Sunday.

We’re wagering this pope’s got a few more surprises up the sleeves of his white cassock.

Meanwhile, here are six eye-openers Francis has uttered thus far.

1) There’s a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican

Meeting with Catholic leaders from his native Latin America and the Caribbean on Sunday, the pope said that there’s a lot of holy people in the Curia, Catholicism’s Rome-based bureaucracy.

But there is also a “stream of corruption,” Francis said, including a “gay lobby.”

"We need to see what we can do," he added, somewhat cryptically.

Only the pope knows exactly what he means. The Vatican has clammed up, refusing to explain.

Catholic experts believe Francis was referring to a secret dossier presented to his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI that investigated a series of embarrassing leaks from Vatican insiders to Italian journalists.

The dossier referred to a Vatican network of sexually active gay clergy who might have been subject to blackmail, according to Italian reports.

2) All atheists go to heaven?

During a homily in Rome on May 22, Francis said that God redeems everyone – not just Christians, but atheists, as well.

“We must meet one another doing good,” the pope said. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

So, was the pope saying that people can go to heaven, even if they don’t believe in God?

Probably not, say church experts.

Catholicism has long held that salvation is open to everyone – but with a really big caveat. If you know about the church and don’t become a member, the door to heaven is likely closed, a Catholic spokesman later clarified.

Many American atheists say they appreciated the olive branch from the pope, however unclear his remarks may have been.

3) “I didn’t want to be pope”

Meeting with Catholic students from Italy and Albania on June 7, Francis ditched his “boring” speech and instead took questions from the children.

A little redhead in a blue scarf elicited laughter by bluntly asking, “Francis, why did you want to become pope?”

“I didn’t,” Francis answered. In fact, “a person who wants to become pope doesn’t love himself. And God doesn’t bless him,” the pontiff said.

4) Sleepy prayers

In May, the pope shared intimate details about his spiritual life with a crowd of 200,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Every day, Francis said, he prays at an altar before he goes to bed. On occasion, the sandman arrives before the end of his prayers, the pope said.

“Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but God understands,” Francis said.

5) Christians should mind their own beeswax

In some of his sharpest comments as pope, Francis criticized Christian busybodies in May.

“We all chat in church,” the pope said. “As Christians we chat.

“It is as if we want to put each other down,” Francis continued. “Instead of growing, one makes the other feel small while I feel great. That will not do.”

Gossip, the pope said, is like honey. It tastes sweet at first, but large doses deliver stomach aches.

6) Throwing food away is stealing from the poor

The first Latin American pope has made fighting poverty a top priority of his papacy. Scarcely a speech or homily ends without a mention of the homeless and disabled.

On June 5, Francis lambasted a “culture of waste” in which consumerism trumps compassion, people become just another disposable object, and little care is given to those who need help.

“This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. ” Francis said.

“We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (1,006 Responses)
  1. saggyroy

    He ain't no Yogi Berra.

    June 17, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • sam stone

      Or BooBoo

      June 17, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      My favorite Yogi Berra quote:
      " I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous"
      Classic !

      June 17, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • sam stone

      "that place is so popular, no one goes there anymore"

      June 17, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

      June 17, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Science

      By watching the dot Bill


      June 17, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Science

      Hey Bill Deacon...........you really are full of BS ........ chew on native iron stones all your life...............it drives the medical

      tests nuts !

      19. Solar nebula (repeat)
      Most meteorites are very old, as old as the solar system (4.6 billion years). Because meteorites haven't changed much since then, they are the best clues we have to the origin and history of the solar system and of the Earth. (Painting by Don Dixon, NASA JSC photo S76-25001)




      June 19, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Science

      Billy the sky is falling no chain required !

      New Research Backs Genetic 'Switches' in Human Evolution

      June 19, 2013 — A Cornell University study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off.


      June 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Bill Deacon the chain has been yanked.............chad too...........take the test you might learn something.

      DNA tests reveal Prince William's Indian ancestry

      By Peter Wilkinson, CNN

      updated 12:48 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013


      June 22, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Science

      Hey Billy where are you stuck at the swamp with the crickets ?

      Science works no god(s) needed

      New implant helps boy hear for first time

      By Caitlin Hagan and Jacque Wilson, CNN

      updated 11:41 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013


      June 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  2. Terry

    Trolling should never be this dull, pervert alert; nor should it make the troll look so idiotic.

    June 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  3. mac t

    @Reality. You are right his theology is flawed, atheists do not go to heaven so you are hosed. This earth, humanity, all came into existence by random chance. Fell so sad for you with no faith you have my pity.

    June 16, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • alphabatt1

      And I am sorry that you lead a life filled with delusion.

      June 16, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • nclaw441

      His theology may not match up with yours (or mine), but we flatter ourselves when we claim others are wrong. Of course we all believe we are right, but we also must honestly acknowledge that we believe what we believe by faith.

      On atheists going to heaven, I think of the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where the master employs workers beginning in the morning and ending right at the end of the day. He pays them all the same wage. The early workers complain. The master says, "I paid you what I promised to pay you. You have no cause to be upset. If I give more to some, what concern is that to you? What I give belongs to me." We do not know what God has in store for those who don't believe. I'll leave that to God, as heaven is His to give or not to give.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  4. susiemac2u

    I love this pope. I have had a lot of issues with the church over the years, but this pope has brought me around. His gentleness, his truthfulness, his concern for the poor... I think he's wonderful. I hope the gay issue is handled well. I know there are a lot of gay priests and brothers and I hope the process of accepting begins. It won't be easy, but if anyone can transform the church in this way, I think it's Pope Francis.

    June 16, 2013 at 2:47 am |
    • Canderson

      Well said. There are a lot of gay priests now and there always have been. It's about time the church stops trying to overcompensate and spreading hatred and prejudice on the gay community and look at their own. I have hope for this pope, as well.

      June 16, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • Reality

      Nice guy, flawed theology. And why is that?

      Jesus was a bit "touched" and any deity powers were only in his head. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the super odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would like or dislike, bless or curse, do or not do?

      June 16, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • ronvan

      I am not catholic, however, this pope does seem to show more humanity and says what he feels. Time will tell.

      June 16, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Susie, allow me to invite you back to the mass

      June 17, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  5. Mark

    viva il papa! Viva Christo Rey!

    June 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  6. Andre Belous


    June 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  7. pervert alert

    A few qu eers lied their way into the priesthood to give themselves access to innocents. Blaming the church and honest men of God for what those deceptive qu eers did is an abomination in itself. Remember qu eers are those "out standing" people that gave the world AIDS.

    June 15, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  8. Reality

    This will be the last papacy as it disintegrates into oblivion with all the other religion-based cons. And why is that? See p. 3 for the answer.


    June 15, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • Donut Ole

      You are just being silly now. It would be nice, though. You could just as easily predict the second coming of Horus.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  9. TheTruth

    The church is an exile of demons!

    June 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  10. Former Pope

    It sounds like we actually have a good Christian man in the Vatican for once

    June 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • .

      the only time you have a good Christian in the vatican is when an evangelical tourist comes by

      June 15, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • .

      Ah, the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. Catholics are just as Christian as evangelicals. Grow up.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Canderson

      I am praying you're right! I have faith in him, as well.

      June 16, 2013 at 3:08 am |
  11. 2sc1970

    I'm wrong.

    June 14, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  12. Nothing worse than

    An idiot who confuses "gay" with "pedophile". And refuses to admit when he is wrong.

    June 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  13. 2sc1970

    Sorry i thought you didn't know. I might had you all wrong.

    June 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  14. CK

    Who said I didn't?

    June 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  15. Agent Smith

    Find a new path Boddhidarma, there's corn stuck in your teeth and we'd hate to think why.

    June 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  16. 2sc1970


    Funny you have never noticed the large amount of gay priests in the Catholic religion.

    June 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  17. 2sc1970


    June 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  18. 2sc1970

    So you're actually telling us that your just a poop?

    June 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  19. CK

    I didn't say that. You're an imposter! Atheists have also done that too.

    June 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  20. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that


    June 14, 2013 at 5:29 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.