July 28th, 2013
08:56 AM ET

What we learned about Pope Francis in Brazil

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN

Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - We didn’t need Pope Francis’ trip to Brazil this week to grasp that the new pontiff, who’s set a tone of simplicity and love for ordinary people, is a hit.

Polls around the world show approval ratings that would be the envy of any politician or celebrity, while vast crowds show up in Rome for even his most routine activities.

What Brazil confirmed, perhaps, is that his act plays as well on the road as at home.

During his week in Brazil for World Youth Day, an international Catholic event, mob scenes erupted everywhere Francis went, despite cold temperatures and driving rain for much of the week.

On Monday, frenzied admirers almost hijacked his motorcade. On Wednesday a group of nuns shrieked and rushed the pope like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, and on Thursday  he drew more than a million young people to a worship service on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. A Saturday prayer service drew 3 million people, according to organizers.

At one point, Francis greeted 30,000 young Argentines in town for World Youth Day, a gathering that turned this city into a virtual Argentinian colony. Given the fierce national rivalry between the two countries, one local pundit said that under any other circumstances, the presence of so many screaming Argentines in the streets of Rio would have been considered an act of war.

Beyond that, here are four things we learned about Pope Francis from his week in Brazil:

A sedate charisma

Francis was elected at 76, so he doesn’t exude the animal magnetism of the early John Paul II, the last pope to command this kind of popular affection.

Elected at 58, John Paul delivered dramatic gestures like the actor he once was. For instance, he would kiss the ground of whatever country he was visiting, something Francis didn’t do. John Paul would clap and stomp his feet during musical numbers, and at night he would pop out the window of his residence to tell jokes and boom out one-liners.

Francis has a more sedate charisma, allowing his smile, his genuine delight in meeting people, and his homespun wisdom to do the work.

During a visit to a Rio slum, for instance, he said the poor are often the most generous folk, quoting a Latin American proverb: “You can always add more water to the beans.”

Francis may be a rock star, in other words, but not the “pump up the volume” sort. Think Simon and Garfunkel, not the Rolling Stones – or maybe Taylor Swift, not Lady Gaga.

He’s changed the storyline

If proof were needed of how much Francis has changed the storyline about the Catholic Church, consider that he’d been in the global spotlight for five days by the time Friday night rolled around, and no one had even raised the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals until he did so himself.

Speaking at the end of a procession recalling Jesus’ carrying of the Cross, Francis said Jesus is united with all who suffer, including those who “have lost their faith in the church, or even in God, because of the lack of consistency of Christians and ministers of the gospel.”

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a veteran of the Church’s struggles with the abuse scandals who was in Rio for the pope’s visit, said the scandals were “an aspect” of what Francis had in mind.

The veiled reference was a reminder of how much the scandals have hurt the Church. Yet the fact that they didn’t cloud Francis’ trip, as they likely would have for a different pope, was also a lesson in how much Francis has given the Church a new lease on life.

A savvy politician

Heading into the trip, there was fear that Brazil’s massive street protests in June might reignite. Aside from a few scattered incidents, that didn’t happen, and Francis seemed to navigate artfully though the political shoals.

The “Pope of the Poor” repeatedly called for greater attention to the needy, and on several occasions applauded the thirst for justice among young people.

During his visit to a Rio slum, he said that no “pacification” campaign can succeed without addressing the social conditions that breed misery – an indirect slap at recent crackdowns on violence in the slums by local police.

At the same time, Francis didn’t embarrass his hosts. He was gracious with Brazil’s embattled president, Dilma Rousseff. He dropped by Rio de Janeiro’s city palace on Thursday to pray over the flags for the 2016 Olympics, meaning that organizers can literally claim a papal blessing against complaints that splashy events such as the Olympics and the World Cup are a waste of money.

In the end, Francis offered a little something for everyone, without blurring his central message expressed in the slum visit: “The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need.”

Energizer Bunny of a Pope

Finally, we learned that despite his advanced age, Francis has a seemingly boundless reserve of energy.

Even before he left Rome, he had trimmed the two days of rest planned for Benedict XVI to one, adding a 150-mile outing to Aparecida, Brazil, on Wednesday to visit a famed Marian shrine, and later in the day stopping by a Rio hospital that treats alcohol and drug addicts.

On the plane en route to Brazil, he stood for an hour to chat with each journalist covering the trip, then spent the rest of the flight talking to his Vatican aides and making notes. A spokesman said nap time had been planned for the pope, but he never used it.

Even on his alleged day off on Tuesday, Francis kept at it. He held a business meeting with a cardinal from Honduras, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who’s in charge of a new council of eight cardinals from around the world helping the pope with Vatican reform.

At one stage, a Vatican spokesman confessed, “I’m happy we’re halfway through, because if [the trip] were any longer I’d be destroyed.”

Despite the grueling pace, Francis seemed as fresh at the end as at the beginning. Nor will things slow down anytime soon, since he’s already announced that he won’t take the usual papal break in August, but will stay on the job in Rome.

The “Energizer bunny” aspect of his personality should serve Francis well, because his bravura performance in Brazil notwithstanding, the Vatican is not going to reform itself.

John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (493 Responses)
  1. chris

    this man is a refreshing change from the clueless draconian methods that have long plagued religion as a whole. he shuns the "power" and is into delivering the message of peace and love. the troubling things is: it's true the masses are quite receptive to this man but i don't see why it was so hard to get the REAL message when someone else was wearing the robes. can't these people see that it always WAS about the message not following some "religious leader"?

    July 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • si ve

      Would you prefer Pope Julius II or Pope Alexander VI delivering the message instead of Jesus or Pope Francis?
      The messenger is an important part of the message.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Woody

    The human is but a mammal and the holy books are stories written by that human mammal . We spend far too much time looking for OZ and destroying the only planet we will ever live on . Nothing wrong with looking for a better place but if Christians really believe God created the earth than why do they spend so much time trashing it ? The planet was here long before our 2000 year old religions we know of today . The Romans still rule ! They are wolves in sheep clothing taking advantage of the poor and under educated . But when you are poor all you have is hope . The problem is hope keeps the Vatican wealthy and the poor people in poverty .

    July 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • niknak

      Just the way all religions want it.

      Religion is the biggest, longest running and most lucrative Ponzi scheme ever invented.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Richard

      Utter nonsense! The Catholic Church is the foremost defender of the poor and distributor of charity in the entire world.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Fitz

        You're right but, when was the last time you went into the poor, rundown section of the closet city to you and gave your hand to the sick and the poor? Or, even saw what your neighbor needed down around their household. Every group has it's rotten parts.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • eric

      yea because states like china without religion do such a great job protecting the earth

      July 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  3. GIUK

    Cult of personality.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  4. joey

    one thing we learned, his favorite book is " Touched ", by sandusky

    July 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • lisaleev

      That's a really unnecessary comment.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • joey

        slamming the largest pedo network on earth will always be necessary

        July 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • johnh1625

      Oh please...

      July 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • CapitanJusticia

      One thing we learned from your comment. You're a classless moron.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • joey

        and i will not stop

        July 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • CapitanJusticia

        Who is 'we'?

        July 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  5. keith

    All these close-minded/blind/idiots turning out to see someone who has never met his supposed higher power. Why? Because its a lie, never proven, nor has anyone ever met this higher power. Wait heaven is above us yet NASA has gone further than where heaven is supposed to be, they must just pass right thru it....

    July 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  6. LouAZ

    IDOLATRY run wild !

    July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • niknak

      No different then the fools who go to those mega churches.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • wilhelm

      idolatry? what about that army of trashy hollywood celebs that people follow

      July 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  7. E.J. Dowd

    A guy in a dress. Big whoop.

    And a bunch of fawning know-nothings following him around like the sheep that they are. Spare us, CNN. What next, a story about the Easter Bunny?

    July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • niknak

      If they thought the Easter Bunny would get them higher ratings, then yes, that would be the next story.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  8. JC

    As always, the Catholic haters are out in full force.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • niknak

      Why do you religious people all feel so persecuted all the time?
      Must su ck going thru life always feeling everyone is out to get you.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Exactly- and they can't handle the fact that Catholics are the largest charitable organization in the world – helping poor people globally more than any other organization (including Governments). That's the bottom line. Leaders like Mother Teresa who won the Nobel Peace prize for doing great tremendous work with the poor – is why I'm proud to be Catholic. The haters and their org's have nothing comparable.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Richard


        July 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • Pritka

        There is a whole lot of good that the Catholic Church does for the poor. There is a whole lot of bad that the Catholic Church has covered up against children and missing money that was intended for the poor. The church needs to clean up it's act. This beloved pope needs to be an advocate and a manager and a reformer. All the adulation the world has for this pope is just so much fluff when one considers his true responsibilities.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  9. GMM

    These comments means to me:
    For the most of the American people... In money they truth...

    They follow theories like a train follow the rails, totally without personal opinion.
    Sorry for my comprehension, but in my opinion, all way of extremism is a damn...

    July 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • niknak

      Was that English you were attempting to write?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    If the pope would love the people, he would tell them the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Seemingly he himself doesn't understand it. There is no need to pray infinite many rosaries. There is no need to keep certain feast days. There is no need to make a pilgrimage to Rome. There is no need to sacrifice Jesus every Sunday again in form of the host. There is no need to venerate certain Saints. Only one thing is necessary, and matters: To live a life of practical love and righteousness on the basis of Jesus death and resurrection, and the sacramental baptism which connects us with the releasing power of Jesus death and resurrection. Simply love God and your neighbour every day through Jesus' power , and you are a Saint. Overcome your selfishness through Jesus with whom you have died and resurrected. Your have died for the sin, and you are in Christ. There is no more obstacle to overcome the lust of your body or your sinfulness. Practize love and righteousness right now.

    Catholicism is socially legalized supersti-tion:

    As an infant I have been baptized by a Roman Catholic priest. I even believe that this baptism is valid. Yet, meanwhile (I am an adult now) I have converted from Catholicism to (genuine) Protestantism or genuine Christianity whereby I don't consider it as necessary to be baptized again, even forbidden.

    In the Catholic Church I have never been told the Gospel of Jesus Christ but any nonsense which I could not understand. I am convinced that most members of the Catholic Church don't understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I got to know the Gospel of Jesus at first through a mission-event of the YMCA whereby they have no perfect understanding of the Gospel and connection between Gospel and baptism.

    Through very much struggle and some coincidences I know now the genuine doctrine of Christianity which we can found in the Bible if we interprete the Bible well.

    Genuine Christiantiy is between Catholicism and (modern) Protestantism. It is neither works righteousness (Catholic) nor reducing Christ's sacrifice to a mere atonement (modern Protestantism).

    We cannot add on something to Christ's sacrifice (good deeds), and we are not allowed to live carelessly assuming that Christ had yet payed the bill.

    We have to understand that Christ's sacrifice was an atonement AND a work of redemption at the same time. Our faith in Jesus is only complete or faith at all if we acknowledge both sides of Christ's sacrifice.

    Modern Protestantism stresses too much the atonement (in order to justify a sinful life), and neglects the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Many modern Protestants will face a rude awakening at Judgement Day.

    Through sacramental baptism we are connected with the releasing power of Christ's sacrifce. We have died for the sin and entered Christ. Dead for the sin and in Christ we are able to overcome our sinfulness or the lust of our body: We become able to love God and our neighbour.

    If we practize this complete faith we will come through at Judgement Day. We will cast our crowns before Him who enabled us to practize love and righteousness.

    True faith becomes visible through love and righteousness. A true Christian will not neglect his fellow human beings.


    Let us abolish popery, and a big portion of the mankind will become happier.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • George


      Based on your comments, seems like God came down from heaven only to visit you and tell you the meaning of Gospel. No one else knows what Jesus stood for or what Christianity stands for.

      I will never understand people like you who think that they are the only true believer !

      July 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Reality

      Luther et al, founders of Christian-based religions suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty, wingie, talking thingie" or horn blower visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      July 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • niknak

      To long, too boring......

      July 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Rodney

      Respect your opinion, but will disagree...
      We are humans, hence imperfect but with a drive to achieve perfection although not equally distributed and very much in need of leadership in all fields. Without leadership, no good is achieved, good leadership I meant...
      We can discuss the quality of the leadership, but without it, anarchy would take place.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Richard

      Poor deceived individual. What a shame you abandoned the one true faith, the one Church established by Jesus Christ. I will pray for you.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Pritka

      Just follow the golden rule of DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU and you won't need any religion at all.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Helena

      You seem to be 500 years late. The RCC changed a LOT in the past 50 years, it still has dark corners to clean, horrible thingsto be eliminated, but at least they are TRYING!
      BTW, have you ever been to Latin America? I was born there. Pope Francis hit the corrupts in the chin at least 4 times in the last days, called the kids to FIGHT against orruption and ORDERED the clergy to support the youth to go to a sane way of ruling themselves. His message was not Catholic, but Chistian. Pentecostalists now support him p. He said basically to stop fighing just because we are different, but to join in honesty, decency and love.
      The Reformation was 500 years ago and brought more hatred than necessary. Maybe it is time to join efforts respecting the differences.
      And if you have not been in a Catholic community, sorry, you have no elements to discuss. There are amazingly good people there and also complete idiots. But the majoity does the best to do the best. Please go there, see by yourself and comment later.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  11. krehator

    Mysticism is for ignorant people.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd


      July 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Qualitycontrol

      Life is but a dream....

      July 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • johnh1625

      Love thy neighbor is not mysticism.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  12. NoReligionThankU

    I personally just dig the red shoes and white dress.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • niknak

      Would make a really good Halloween costume though,

      July 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  13. coyote71


    July 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      How predictable! Anti Pope comments coming from the Cess pool that used to be America!

      Grow up and look what your country is REALLY like and stop hammering goodness. You're doing the devil's work, he's USING you and you're too dumb to see it.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • david

        Please go read more fairy tales.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • E.J. Dowd

          Poor Ad. He's really into his story book. And gets his little feelings hurt when others don't buy into the myth.

          July 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • E.J. Dowd

        We actually like it here in America. One of the best things about it? You're not here.

        The Pope's just a guy in a dress, with a bunch of not-too-educated droolers fawning over him.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Scott f.

      Id iot.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  14. eric

    Choosing this pope was simply marketing to latin america.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      Thanks for proving what I've always said. Americans can only think in terms of "marketing" and "If it doesn't make ME richer I hate it"
      Selfishness is a nasty trait. Get over yourself – no wonder you're the laughing stock of the world! What a bunch of closed minded people you are!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • E.J. Dowd

        TOO funny. Half the fun of reading these comments is reading your anti-American rants. So sad for you to be stuck in some less-wonderful place, kitten.

        Thanks for the entertainment!

        July 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • david

        The most diverse country in the world and somehow you managed to stereotype 315 million people. You must be one of those cultured, Euro, bible thumpers. Good for you! Now go spread more hate.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  15. Pamela

    I think the Pope should come to the US and have a special session with our elected, so called, Christian Republicans who demonize the needy, take away from families in need and promote guns and killing. Maybe he needs to remind him of Gods real words to help the poor and heal the sick. Something they think is only allowed to the rich and powerful. And they call themselves Christians? I think not.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Gyh8r

      Pamela, are you getting our dear leader mixed up with the repub? Also are you blond?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • john

        Why do you think she is talking about the president?
        Do you have blonde roots?

        July 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

          She's NOT talking about the President – but she SHOULD be.

          July 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Paul

          Who are you to tell anyone what they should be doing?

          July 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • si ve

      I really like this Pope!!!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        Isn't he GREAT! God bless you.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • E.J. Dowd

          Why? Did somebody sneeze?

          July 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Scott f.

      He will continue to tell the needy and poor (underachieving parasites), that practicing birth control is a sin and to have a kid every year, give him all your money and continue to leech off the government

      July 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      ALL Christians aren't Republicans
      ALL Liberals don't support abortion

      Generalizations only go to show a limited intelligence and lack of logical reasoning. Please grow up.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Bruce

      "I think the Pope should come to the US and have a special session with our elected, so called, Christian Republicans who demonize the needy, take away from families in need and promote guns and killing. Maybe he needs to remind him of Gods real words to help the poor and heal the sick. Something they think is only allowed to the rich and powerful. And they call themselves Christians? I think not."

      Is this a real post ? When and where have 'Christian Republicans' demonized the needy ?? Is every Christian republican like the Westboro Baptists? Is the Catholic Church which does more for the poor and needy than the Salvation Army and American Red Cross combined just another social service agency Pamela ?

      Never mind passing judgement which you do without batting an eye it seems. Is it social justice to support an administration that promotes abortion when unborn children are the least among us ?

      I think not.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • john

        It is easy to have such an opposite stance on abortion when you will never have to consider the prospect eh Bruce!

        July 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Bruce

          You sure I haven't had to experience it John ? Is there right or wrong here ? Does abortion really solve problems. Has it solved yours /

          July 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  16. Tracey

    I will take note when he throws all the pedophile priests in jail. Don't waste your time telling me what a nice humble guy you are. TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS IN YOUR SHOP AND CLEAN IT UP. See what you are left with;l

    July 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Are you also angry with Male Teachers, coaches and social workers?? And their leaders? Where are your statements about them?? They engage in pedophilia in much higher rates than religious clergy – this is statistical fact. Don't hate on and show Prejudice against religious peoples – be fair – focus on ALL the occupations that have done these bad things – don't have selective justice – this is called Bigotry.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • KG


      Once he cleans house, the church will be left with the 99% of priests who are good and faithful. It is a very small majority of priests who have abused their office but the media ensures those are the only ones we hear about. Those that have abused children should be prosecuted.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  17. A Dose of Reality

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10

    July 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      Dose of boredom more like!

      Can't you handle the fact that this holy and humble man is walking in the footsteps of Jesus?
      That he's energized Catholics and renewed their Faith?
      That he has shown the world that in ONE country alone he has proved that far from "dying out" as non-believers hoped, Catholicism is ALIVE, WELL AND GROWING!

      God bless you [and help you to keep your comments short but meaningful!!!]

      July 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        Well it was long, but then you said nothing of value at all.
        Look at the stats from the Pew center. The RC church is in deep do-do. With deluded people like you, no wonder it kept it's head in the sand so long about child abuse.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • E.J. Dowd

        Can't handle science?

        "walked in the steps of Jesus." Why not Smokey the Bear? The WIzard of Oz? Santa? Just as relevant.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • erichx101

      Meth head.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Lainie11

      "Skyfairys"? The Saints were real people who walked the earth, whose lives were recorded. "For those with Faith, nothing is impossible; for those without Faith, nothing will suffice.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • 98vulcan

        Thank you.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Emery

      Very well said.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      You never heard of a paragraph.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • OTOH

      @A Dose,

      Take a look at how the article above is formatted, with paragraphs & double-spacing. Then put some in yours.

      Your wall of text makes one's eyes bleed!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • si ve

      You are missing the WHOLE point. This Pope is a good human being and that is a good thing.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Lainie11

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Being "good" doesn't make one a Catholic. Being virtuous, pious, holy, and belief in all the doctrines of the Catholic Church (Pre Vatican II), makes one a good Catholic, not being just a humanitarian. God comes before man. Remember, the first three commandments refer to God, the next 7 refer to man.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • TDJ

      Paragraphs are our friends. Although, this long line of sentences serves the purpose to illustrate the ramble this is.


      July 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Britt MacArthur

      You are a very angry person. Your post makes me sad-you need to be shown mercy and the power of faith.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • bmurdoc

      Well written sir and dead on.

      July 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • A Dose of Reality

      And not ONE of you actually refuted WITH FACTS a single thing I posted. Good religitard, sit religitard, sit....

      July 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • madrogio

      Sorry, I tried to post comments, but the censors removed them. However, my comments started with THANKS...we'll see what happens this time. The truth must fight against darkness every day!

      July 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  18. Emery

    The Catholic Church loathes children. Loathes them. To the Church, children are Catholics first and humans second, and the lifelong trauma caused by childhood indoctrination is mere collateral damage in the Church’s battle against the outside world. As is so often the case, the Church unashamedly places their own interests above all other concerns, including the welfare (physical, emotional, and mental) of children. And an organization that despises and preys upon its weakest and most vulnerable members (who haven’t even chosen to be members) is undoubtably a force of great evil in the world.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      That's RICH coming from an American comments page!!!!

      America has the HIGHEST incidence of CHILD cruelty - CHILD abuse - CHILD neglect in the Western world.
      You have made it LEGAL and acceptable to murder 53 MILLION of your OWN babies
      And YOU have the cheek to say Catholics don't like CHIDREN?

      Give me strength! – another victim of the failed American education system hits the comments board and spews bigotry, hate and lies! Nothing new here then, eh?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        Prove it. Post your sources, or you are lying.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  19. Emery

    Think for a second about how cruel that is. To ensure that the Catholic mind virus is passed down through the generations, the Church is willing to crush children’s curiosity and to stifle or completely destroy their ability to think critically.

    Then there is the guilt. According to Catholic teaching, humans are born sinners and cannot help but continue to sin throughout their lives. The only way for a Catholic to atone for these sins is to confess them to a priest, do the required penance, and be absolved. As a child, I obsessively recorded in a little notebook anything that I had said or done that could possibly be considered sinful. Then, when the time came for confession, I would recite this list to the priest, my head hanging in shame, my cheeks burning. I’d do my penance and be absolved. For a fleeting, blissful moment, I would feel light and pure and holy. But soon I would sin again, the guilt would return, the little notebook would be filled up with a record of my indiscretions, and I would return to the confessional and repeat the process over and over again.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Heathen

      Well said!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • dre

      well... you should note that according to what's being preached we are on a state of grace... so your guilt trip is self induced... keeping your house clean does not mean that you should be obsessed with cleaning it... just make it a habit of cleaning it regularly... cheers

      July 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • agentmisfit

      So you think your guilt comes from the Catholic faith? Maybe you just don't like feeling guilty for the bad things you do? Don't blame a church or a religion for your actions. You have a conscious that tells you right or wrong, we all do and it doesnt matter if you are catholic, protestant, or atheist.

      July 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Emery

    No one, let alone a small child, is “kindling wood for hell”, yet it is that message that is at the core of Catholic childhood indoctrination.

    I’m in complete agreement with the sentiments and assertions expressed in this recent article by Richard Dawkins. I think that teaching small children to believe in a literal Hell and to believe that there’s a very real possibility that they will spend an eternity in this literal Hell is child abuse (relatedly, teaching small children that they are worthless and that their guilt, fear, and anxiety are valuable blessings from God is also child abuse). The Catholic Church hierarchy loathes and abuses children.

    To be clear: I certainly do not believe that the vast majority of those who raise their children in the Catholic faith are child abusers. For the most part, they’re just continuing the cycle. Their parents permitted the Church to indoctrinate them, and now they are doing the same to their own children. This mindless continuation of the vicious cycle of indoctrination may never stop, but we can at least try to raise awareness of the fact that the core tenets of Catholic childhood indoctrination are indeed abusive to children

    July 28, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • ced

      well, obviously you've a problem with the "sin concept" and the Catholic Church. Why not ? But you're are making general conclusions after your personal case. That is never a way to argue. My own experience teaches me that many people raised in the Catholic Church became brilliant or generous or open-minded or anything else positive for the rest of the world and they don't spend their time to the psy and the're still Catholic. So what ? You maybe anti catholic, this is your right, but please try to be a little bit more objective.

      July 29, 2013 at 9:49 am |
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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.