December 17th, 2013
10:32 AM ET

Pope celebrates birthday with homeless men (and one cute dog)

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis marked his 77th birthday on Tuesday by welcoming three homeless men to a Mass and a meal at the Vatican, according to Catholic officials.

The Pope wanted a "family" environment, with just a few top aides, the staff of Casa Santa Marta - the Vatican guesthouse - and the homeless men, one of whom brought his dog, the Vatican said.

(The Vatican originally said four homeless men joined the Pope's birthday celebration before revising the number late Tuesday.)

Afterward, the group sang "Happy Birthday" to Francis, and he invited everyone to eat  breakfast with him at the hotel's dining room, according to the Vatican.

The homeless men were brought by the Pope's aide in charge of charity, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who has been taking Francis' concern for the poor directly to the streets of Rome.

The Vatican's sharing of the Pope's birthday plans is sure to burnish Francis' image as "the People's Pope," a man who eschews pomp and ceremony, favoring small and intimate gatherings instead.

Francis has famously refused to live in the sumptuous papal apartment, picked out a used Fiat to scoot around Rome and dropped the fancy papal vestments and high theological language of his predecessors. Emphasizing his common-man roots, Francis said recently he was a janitor and a bar bouncer in Argentina before becoming a priest.

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

Perhaps as a birthday present to himself, the Pope, without going through the usual church channels, announced the canonization of a 16th-century Jesuit priest on Tuesday.

The Rev. Pierre Favre (known in the United States as Peter Faber) was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, the Catholic order of priests to which Pope Francis himself belongs. Francis has praised Favre's "careful interior discernment" and "simple piety."

In September, the Pope used a similar process to announce the canonization of the late Pope John XXIII, who will officially be made a saint, along with Pope John Paul II, in April.

In the Pope's birthplace of Buenos Aires, where Francis was an archbishop,  Catholics are celebrating his birthday by pitching a "missionary tent" in one of the city's most troubled areas, where they will minister to migrants, prostitutes, the homeless and jobless, the Vatican said.

"God has always walked alongside his people," beginning with the Hebrew patriarchs, the Pope preached at Tuesday morning's Mass.

God became man at Christmas to redeem and share in the lives of saints and sinners alike - even "high-level sinners," Francis said.

Pope Francis: No more business as usual

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (624 Responses)
  1. HotAirAce

    Why didn't he invite a few of the children that RCC priests have abused? Why isn't the RCC cooperating fully with civilian authorities investigating priestly pedophilia and the continuing coverup of criminal activity within the RCC? What is this pope hiding?

    December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • JR

      How the hell do you know he's not? What will you complain about once he DOES do something about it? You'll find something. Jerks like you always do.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • ENOUGH!!!

      you're a moron!!, at least he's doing something. if he wan't doing anything, people complain, now that he's doing something you complain. typical american. go worship mcdonalds you tool.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The RCC has fought the release of information in court. They only release information when forced to by a court. The RCC refused to cooperate with the UN. If the RCC was cooperating, don't you think it would be reported? Have you seen any such report.

      But go ahead, continue to defend your cult and its criminal behavior. The god delusion must continue regardless of any facts.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  2. jtmschneider@mac.com

    I often find that people feel compelled to "tear down" the actions of people they don't support. We this in politics all the time where it seems almost impossible to see rival politicians congratulate the actions of a political rival without some "dig". And so it is with religion. The man Jorge since his ordination has practiced what he believes and has lived his faith actively. Whether you believe what he believes isn't the issue – rather that he does it with courage and consistency long before he was in the global spotlight. He affirms that which is good and noble in the human spirit – and peoples of good will, regardless of faith or lack, should wish him well in his efforts.

    December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  3. Joey

    Good PR nothing more.

    December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  4. get the facts

    hey look at MEEEEEE!! I'm humble and feeding the homeless

    December 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • ENOUGH!!!

      MAYBE SOME DAY, SOMEONE WILL BE FEEDING YOU!, so shut up and learn to be greatful

      December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • JR

      You aren't doing anything, are you? He is. Shut up.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Honest Bob

      How many homeless have you fed? This pope at least sets a good example.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Nick

        The pope is solving the 'Homeless problem' with food for a day!

        December 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • H.S.

          Nobody claimed that the Pope was solving the homeless problem.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  5. M.E.

    I don't really car what his religion is, he's just a good person. Good people are the same across the world and can be found in every color of the religious rainbow. I know good Mormons, good Jews, good Buddhists, good Lutherans, good Muslims and good athiests. The only thing they all share in common is that they will always reach out their hand without a single expectation in return to anyone who needs it. They're all completely different people, but in that way they're all completely alike. So if we can all meet on the common ground of compassion, imagine what the combined hands of humanity could achieve?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • get the facts

      a good person would help those abused by the cover ups.. Instead this con man deflects.

      In fact he ignores UN questioning for the cover ups.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  6. Esilef

    What is it with this Pope and poor people?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Jeff from Columbus

      He's a Catholic and Catholics are taught to care for all people, especially those less fortunate.

      Jesus' 2nd commandment was to "love one another as you would love yourself". Pope Francis is simply living out that commandment.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Mary

        I had nuns in school, trust me, I know the viciousness of catholics

        December 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • H.S.

          Yes, because those nuns are representative of all Catholics, right?

          Please. Enough with the generalizing and painting certain groups with a broad brush.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          HS. Look up the Magdalene laundries for another example.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • H.S.

          Again, you wish to generalize all Catholics because of nuns from childhood and the Magdalene laundry?


          Then again, I guess by your example it's ok to generalize all atheists and non-believers as angry jerks with nothing better to do with their time but complain about things, right?

          December 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ HS

          I went to parochial school for twelve years, different schools in different cities, and saw abuse or was abused in all of them. Most of those nuns had no business being anywhere near children. I had only two nuns in twelve years that I can say were good teachers and didn't scream, hit, humiliate, push, slap or condemn us to hell. And I was a good kid because if I got in trouble at school I'd get it worse at home!

          Thousands and thousands of children worldwide have had the same or worse experiences in the RCC.

          December 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Sunnysmom

      That darn Jesus and his teachings! lol (wink)

      December 17, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • get the facts

      he needs to deflect from his s/b #1 priority,, the child abuse cover ups

      December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • H.S.

        If you had any sense, you'd take off your blinders and realize that the Pontiff may not answer questions about the child abuse scandal. There are so many court challenges going on that any word from the Pope could cause problems. This is not about a cover up – as much as you would like it to be.

        And of course, because of the child abuse scandal, the Catholic Church can't do any good anywhere else, right? Please, give credit where credit is due.

        December 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          HS. First impressions of this pope are positive, however the RCC is in a huge hole as far as this criminality is concerned and I feel he needs to be seen swiftly dealing with it.

          December 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  7. Christopher

    As an atheist I find the reported actions of this pope admirable. I emphasize reported actions because I have no idea what the previous pope did on his birthday, since it wasn't deemed worthy of reporting nor, it seems, were many of his other actions. My point is, this guy seems great, but really, can CNN stop already with the onslaught of stories about him?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Ray B

      I suppose you would prefer stories of mass suicides and mayhem....

      December 17, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Sunnysmom

      No way! I say more stories...maybe the Hypo-Christians of the world will start taking notice and actually doing good works. Instead of just sitting in a pew on Sundays.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:55 am |
      • Scott

        We all ready help out with the poor. According to Arthur C Brooks' research published in "Who Really Cares", religious conservatives give the most in time and money to charity.


        December 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  8. sly

    This story is not about your belief in Allah or whoever.

    This story is about humans helping other humans.

    No, it is not about President Obama, or the TeaBillies, or Russia, or Jesus. Sorry – wrong story.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  9. sly

    Very surprising that a conservative white man would do anything to help someone else.

    The Pope is a powerful symbol, much like the President of the United States and other powerful nations, so when a person of influence does something symbolic and good, it is a step in the right direction.

    Humans helping other humans – that's all we'll ever have in this earth, so we might as well set a good example.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Valentina

      Bigot much?

      December 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • sly

      It's called 'reality'. (not a strong point on this blog). Maybe instead of tossing out names like a TeaBillie, you can provide me one example of something a conservative white man has done for America, say in the last 10 years? Let's start with one.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • JDD

        I'll do even better than that – I'll make it an international contribution: Do a search for "PEPFAR founder", and follow up with a search for "elton john praises pepfar".

        December 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  10. Peter

    Glory all All to God for His glory
    Glory and All to God for His power
    Glory and All to God for His word
    Glory and All to God for His love
    Glory and All to God for His mercy.

    I am glad that the Pope is focusing on helping the poor. People in the past have focused to much on debating and arguing about political ideology, instead of focusing on loving your neighbour as yourself.

    We need to judge less and love more, and this Pope is doing just that. A good first step that is in the right direction.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • sly

      Peter, thanks for the good thoughts. I don't really know what your God has to do with this, but your words are wise.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  11. sinibaldi1

    Mirando el mar.

    el mar cerca
    del acantilado
    escucho una
    voz viviente
    y ligera como
    el canto del
    sol cuando
    viene la aurora.

    Francesco Sinibaldi

    December 17, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  12. It's a good start

    As an atheist I have always been critical of those who preach one thing and do another. This pope is refreshing because he actually practices what he has preached for many years. I could spend days talking about how misguided his faith is, or how he is is foolish for believing in God, but that accomplishes nothing. If a man or woman chooses to be kind and compassionate to those less fortunate... more power to them.
    Atheist need to learn to be as compassionate and loving as this man appears to be and stop hating. If we don't then we are no better than those we accuse of hypocrisy.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Nicole

      Wow, as someone who believes in Christ, I must say this really was great to hear from someone who doesn't believe. There is no reason to debate or feel like we are better than another because of what we choose to believe. Thank you for posting.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • M.E.

        Wait a sec, did I just see and atheist and a christian embrace each other on the internet rather than try to rip each others throats out? As an impartial observer, (philosophical Buddhist) well done to you both, haha! You know this pope is on the side of good when a discussion about him can make disagreeing parties peacefully break metaphorical bread.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • JJ

      You outed yourself as not really being an atheist and most likely a Christian by the following:

      "Atheist need to learn to be as compassionate and loving as this man appears to be and stop hating"

      December 17, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Valentina

        So if a Christain said that about other Christains he/she would be outing themself as an atheist? What?

        December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • It's a good start

        I assure you that I am a true atheist. It is sad when we (atheist) feel the need to attack and question every single person we encounter... it makes us no better than the Christians who attack us. As an atheist I know that this life is it.. there is nothing more, no singing angels (which would actually cause me to want to be sent elsewhere) no beautiful mansion, no pearly gates.. just this life here on earth. With that in mind my time is better spent enjoying each human and less fighting with them over something that will mean absolutely nothing in about 50 years.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  13. Peter

    God became Man as Jesus. What an awesome mystery!! Glory to God in the highest.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Colin

      Actually, it's a pretty silly myth, if you think it through. Also, the author of Mark, Luke and Matthew would likely disagree with you.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • fred

        I assume you are splitting hairs as Jesus was man, born of a woman yet in him was the glory of God. That glory of God was evident to those with eyes to see. Some accounts claim Jesus was the full radiance of God. The human form of Jesus show us that like the burning bush we can bear His fire.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Matty

        Actually, the authors of the Synoptic Gospels would probably agree with the incarnation. You are right if by stating this you mean that there conception of the "trinity" would be a bit different than that in Orthodox Church Polity. They did see a more hierarchical structure, but in Mark there is a presupposed ethos between the God and the Father, and it actually gets stronger with Matthew writing and appealing to the Jews. It would be wrong to assert otherwise, and I see this as fairly good evidence provided that Mark was written first and Matthew written last....speaking of the Synoptics of course.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • Peter

        The God of Abhram and the God of Isaac, and the God Jacob is not a myth. He is the ever powerful and eternal God. May God touch your heart Colin. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but I hope He touches your heart in your lifetime. Enjoy your holidays.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • Joey

          I hope for Colin's sake that no one touches his heart, unless that person is a surgeon and Colin is in need of heart surgery.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  14. emskadittle

    he walks in the footsteps of Jesus and there are lot of so called "Christians" in America that need to follow his lead

    December 17, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  15. kamakiriad

    I can not believe the negativity on this board.

    If this was just "Vatican PR" the guy wouldn't have been doing it for 30 years prior. He truly believes what he preaches, which is rare these days. As for the actual date of the birth of Christ, who cares. Dec 25th is the symbolic day we now use. It is as good as any other until someone finds a birth certificate for Jesus Christ in a clay jar buried in Judea.

    I am a Buddhist. I have no dog in this race, but I can honestly say this is the way I have always expected a Pope to behave. He is a refreshing and likable man. He is inspiring people to return to what is important. Service is wealth, not money.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Jax

      He is a good man. Too many haters abound.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  16. Rosslaw

    I know, I know, its just symbolism but when right-wingers claiming to follow their "principles" are racing to gut any form of safety net, all in the name of Jesus of course, I'll take Francis any day of the week.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  17. tony

    Release the data of the criminal paedophile priests to the UN enquiry.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Jax

      And when he does, what will you complain about?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Science Works

        There is a couple – Adam and Eve ?

        December 17, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    God became man at Christmas to redeem and share in the lives of saints and sinners alike – even "high-level sinners," Francis said.

    in fact no-one knows when the storybook jesus was supposed to be born. what billions of people are celebrating on December 25th is actually a pagan holiday.

    oh how shamelessly fraudulent Christianity is!

    December 17, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Colin

      It's a bit like the Church of the Holy Sepuchre in Jerusalem, the supposed location of the cave where Jesus was raised from the dead. Everybody knows that it is a complete lie, but the faithful keep flocking there. Every Easter Jesus supposedly lights a candle placed in it. But, he never does so in full sight of people. The candle is put inside hidden from view (of course) when this miracle is performed.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Nicole

      It is amazing how skeptical people are and choose to display their negativity. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ, then why are you so angry. We do not know the exact date when Jesus was born and because of that we had to choose a time to celebrate His birth. I am sure God doesn't care if we have the exact date down as long as we are praising Him and recognizing His Son. The good thing is that at the end of the day, the truth will come out, but until then I choose to believe and not spend time trying to prove Christianity wrong. Unfortunately not everyone can be saved, but when the time comes and you decided to spend your life rejecting Jesus, you will quickly find out that it was a small price for you to pay to believe. Jesus is real and I am thankful he died for my sins. I pray that God continues work in your heart.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • truthprevails1

        No Nicole, that is not why they chose this date! They chose this date to coincide with Winter Solstice. They chose this date as a way of converting 'pagans'. Educate yourself a little and try opening your mind.
        You can learn some of the facts by going here:

        December 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • H.S.

          Please learn to read. Nicole did not posit the reason for the date chosen for the celebration of Christ's birth. She said there is no known date, so one was chosen. You are correct that the Winter Solstice was chosen, based on pagan beliefs, in an effort to placate newly-converted Christians who were previously pagan.

          Seriously though, one could blindfold oneself, throw a dart at a calendar and choose whatever date it hits. The date itself matters not to Christianity. And it certainly doesn't do anything to negate Christian beliefs to celebrate the birth of Christ on or around the Winter Solstice. Truly, it shouldn't much matter to Christians when (on what date) Christ was born. It's his death and resurrection that's the most important.

          December 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          So this is not positing a reason for choosing the date: "We do not know the exact date when Jesus was born and because of that we had to choose a time to celebrate His birth"???
          Maybe it is you that needs to learn to read.

          December 18, 2013 at 4:15 am |
      • Thomas

        Nicole they are so angry because they reject Jesus and the eternal happiness he brings.

        December 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • doobzz

        Nicole, are you so thin skinned that you can't take the slightest criticism of your religion? Disagreeing with you doesn't mean the person is an angry person, it means they disagree. If your faith is so weak that the slightest critique comes across as anger, maybe you are the one with the problem.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • neoritter

      Which pagan holiday?

      December 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Tom in Santa Fe

        Winter Solstice – the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. Also known as Yule, henceforth, the Yule Log... But it is also near Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights and the date of which varies based on the Lunar calendar.

        December 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    and the Vatican PR Campaign continues ...

    December 17, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Faithful

      Evaluate yourself. If you find kindness and love in your heart, embrace it, live it and practice it but please do not justify your soul's emptiness by critizicing what remains of goodness. God bless you.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • doobzz

        "please do not justify your soul's emptiness by critizicing what remains of goodness."

        Pretty presumptuous of you, isn't it? But religious people love to believe the lie that anyone who doesn't think as they do must be bitter, unhappy, lost shells of humanity.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Thomas

      apparently its working....even you crawled out from under a manhole to comment..

      December 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • doobzz

        How kind of you. You must be a Christian!

        December 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
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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.