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. Obamabus

    There's something about the phrase "pitching a 'missionary tent'" that just doesn't sit right.

    December 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • r h lewis

      Seems to me that the opening Prologue of John's gospel speaks of The Word pitching a tent ...

      December 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  2. Elaine

    Happy birthday, Pope Francis! I am honored to share a birthday with you. I'm not a Catholic but I respect you immensely. Now I wish I were spending today serving the homeless too. Maybe next year!

    December 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Riversomme

      "What you do for the least of My brothers, you do for Me'.
      God's Blessings to you.

      December 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

      I to share a birthday with you and the Pope, Elaine. I also will go out and help the homeless today, instead of being a celebration of myself, I will make it a celebration of me being alive and being able to help someone that is not as fortunate as me.

      December 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  3. Factcheck29

    Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air and if he continues like this he will surely give the likes of Hannity, Rush, our dear old friend Biil O Riely and the other defenders of the faith on the Fox network ,a run for their money!!

    December 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • doobzz

      Maybe Bill O'Reilly will put a hit on him and then write another book, "Killing Francis".

      December 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Has O'Reilly said anything about this pope?
      I know he grew up Catholic. Wonder if he agrees with the pope?

      "Now for something completely different ..."
      That IS a cute dog !!

      December 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  4. Factcheck29

    He is a breath of fresh and will surely give the likes of Hannity, Rush and our dear old friend Biil O Riely and the other on FOXES defenders of the faith,a run for their money!!

    December 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Barry G

    Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    (The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25)

    December 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • deborah

      Simply beautiful Well done

      December 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • sly

        wow deborah – you are easily impressed. If this fella was copying from a Marvel comic book would you also comment on how beautiful the comic writers were?

        Wow ... heavy ... beautiful ... I can read ... AND I can copy what I read! Beautiful. Wow. Heavenly. If this doesn't prove God, nothing will. Gosh ... I'm almost in tears with the beauty... I didn't realize that earth was perfect and there was no hate and no starvation. Wow ... beautiful. Heavenly. Thank you God for making earth perfect. And this pope? Perfect. President Obama. Perfect. Wow. Beautiful. Wow. Gotta go – eyes starting to water.

        December 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • doobzz


          December 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Barry G

          Jesus, unlike the characters in your comic books, was a real man, and he died a real death on the cross, for you and me.

          We, Christians, believe that Jesus is the son of God; and, we believe he is the messiah (savior) the Jews prophesied about and awaited, for hundred of years.

          Jesus taught us to love one another; to do unto others as we would have other do unto us; and, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

          What do your comic books say?

          Go ahead and mock us! We Christians and Jews are used to it.

          Our savior was mocked by the likes of you, and we're proud to stand with him.

          How does it feel to know that you stand with the likes of Nero, Caligula, Commodius, Diometian and other vile Caesars, who also rejected Christ and abused and persecuted the faithful of God?

          The Bible teaches us that "it is appointed for a man and a woman to die once, and after this the judgment."

          What do your comic books teach about death, the grave, the Day of Judgment, and the final destiny of your eternal soul?

          December 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • sly

          ... calm down fella ... no one mocked your Jesus, although I didn't think he wrote the Bible. And with all those holes in his hand, how could he write without getting blood all over the pages.

          I just thought Deborah having an orgasm over some bible quote was, well, kinda dumb.

          Come to think of it ... your comment that Jesus is real and Marvel is not ... well, hate to say it sir, but that is REAL dumb.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • doobzz

        Yes, that was some fine copy/paste, wasn't it?

        December 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Barry G

          I certainly don't take credit for the words. I believe them and strive to live by them, but the words were taken from a sermon preached by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. I call attention to these words, because they're fitting for this occasion.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • doobzz

          I know where they're from. We were just laughing about deborah's oohing and ahhing over your copy/paste of a bible quote as if it's something noteworthy.

          December 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Riversomme

      Amen brother.

      December 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      BROTHER MAYNARD: Armaments, chapter two, verses nine to twenty-one.
      SECOND BROTHER: And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying,
      'O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that, with it, Thou mayest blow
      Thine enemies to tiny bits in Thy mercy.' And the Lord did grin, and
      the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies
      and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu–
      MAYNARD: Skip a bit, Brother.
      SECOND BROTHER: And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the
      Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three
      shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting
      shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two,
      excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the
      number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy
      Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My
      sight, shall snuff it.'

      December 17, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • sly

        ... such beautiful words Brother ... I am moved by the Glory of the Grenada. Powerful. Tears.

        December 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • doobzz

        *sniff, sniff* I'm moved to tears by this. Beautiful, just beautiful. I love you, man.

        December 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  6. Keith

    Good that we finally got such a good man for Pope

    December 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  7. darknesscrown

    As an atheist, I like this pope. That's saying something...because I despise all religion in all forms. He seems like a good man, which is more than you can say about virtually every member of the clergy. The reason conservatives hate him so much, I suspect, is because he actually acts the way Christ probably would have.

    December 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • JanuHull

      Have to agree, not that I have any intention of abandoning my belief that religion is, overall, a complete crock, this guy at least seems to be more willing to focus on the positive aspects of the faith in practice.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      Darkness, If you know Christ well enough to predict his actions, how can you be an atheist?

      December 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  8. Keith

    Sure glad we finally got a good man for Pope

    December 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  9. SpaceCowboy

    How many members of the US Congress have celebrated their birthday with the homeless? ZERO!!!

    December 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • sly

      ... ah ... another ignorant American, blaming himself for those he voted for.

      Congressmen, who are just YOU, often spend time dedicating homeless shelters and doing charitable work.

      Only a fool, like you, refuses to look in the mirror and understand that Congress is You – your next door neighbor who was intelligent enough to run for public office when you asked him to.

      God I'm sick of Americans – biggest whiners EVER!

      December 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • BrainofJFK

        Yet you seem ever compelled to read these comments then proceed to whine about them. Perhaps you arent as sick of them as you make it out. Hmm there's a line in a Pearl Jam song that goes "If you hate something, dont you do it too" maybe you should think about that and spend some time looking in the mirror at yourself before spewing such malice, no?

        December 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • sly

          ... gosh JFK ... I didn't realize I was whiners about our politicians. I respect them: they are Americans. They are us. Not perfect. Us.

          I guess you were reading the invisable ink on this blog ...

          Ok, wait a minute, I did just post that I would celebrate if Cruz was to croak ... but that is an indictment of him, not Congress.

          Anyone whining about Congress or the President is a fool – YOU elected them. Ok, wait, many Americans know they are fools, and those folks can whine, since at least they are being honest.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  10. gary

    I'm not religious but I am so happy about this guy .. Happy Birthday Pope

    December 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Ced

      I hear ya. There are a lot of so-called ministers in the U.S. that should take a lesson from the Pope.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  11. Wallace Gaiter

    12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

    December 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • doobzz

      So? I can copy War and Peace here, and it will have just as much meaning.

      December 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Norman Shrugged

      “Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

      Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”

      December 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • JDD

      Thanks Wallace – good post for thought.

      December 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  12. Joe

    MAN I like this Pope what a super guy. I'm not religious but this guy inspires me. WAY TO GO POPE !!!!

    December 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  13. Robert

    He is trying to do what Jesus did. Feeding the homeless. Remember the five and seven loaves? I'm starting to like this guy.

    December 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      How many child abusers did jesus protect?

      December 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Hotair, Jesus held a child and said wo to anyone who harms one of these, it's better if they were never born. That's a pretty strong statement.

        December 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  14. Journey

    Ted Cruz 2016

    December 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Some Antics

      Ted Cruz 2016 what? Will he move back to Canada in 2016? Will he change his hair helmet in 2016? Will Texas legalize sewing people mouths to their anus so Ted can direct the shlt coming out of his mouth back into his rectum in 2016? If you think he has even a snowballs chance in heII of even winning a primary in 2016 you are certifiable.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Hey hey hey, We don't want him back. I don't wish him upon you and right now he's on your soil, please don't send him back here. Although I'm sure we can all agree that North Korea or perhaps Russia would be a good fit for him.

        December 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • AE

      Are you predicting his death, Journey?

      December 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • sly


        Cruz is a mean spirited and evil man. He was raised as a racist pig, his dad says 'all blacks should be sent back to Africa', and he is a Nazi intent on shutting down America.

        I for one am not happy to share earth's precious oxygen with this guy ...

        December 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  15. Pander Bear

    Communist!! *snicker*

    December 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Mike

    I am by no means a fan of the Catholic Church, but Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air. A man who behaves like a humble man and actually helps the poor and relates to everyday people. I love the fact that he refuse to live in the papal residence and seems to honestly want to be around the real people. Many religious leaders could learn a thing or two from this man. Keep up the good work and don't let anyone change you Pope Francis.

    December 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  17. Mary

    Why do atheists devote their entire lives to opposing and condemning something that they believe does not exist?

    December 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mary

      I mean, if I lived in Iran and had the theocratic Islamic government making policy decisions based on their belief in Allah I wouldn't complain because I don't believe in Islam. If they were telling me to wear my Hijab I wouldn't say anything to them about why I shouldn't have to wear one because I don't believe in Islam. I certainly wouldn't come to any Islamic blog and complain about Islam and it's effects on the world because I do not believe in Islam...

      December 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • doobzz

        If you lived in Iran, you wouldn't have the choice. You would either become a Muslim, leave the country if you were allowed, or be imprisoned and/or die.

        That isn't the case here in the USA, where we all have the freedom to choose our religion or none at all. When those of us who aren't xtians see xtians trying to get their religion taught in science classes in public schools or their prayers to their deities in government meetings, we will push back long and hard for our freedom of and from religion. Get used to it or s.t.f.u.

        December 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • samuraikatana1

      Generalizing much Mary? I'm an atheist and while I certainly do not believe in god or religion I have not "devoted" my life to opposing it. I have better things to do with my time. I will say however, even though I'm an atheist I see Pope Francis as an admirable man and wish him nothing but success. He is in a position to do a lot of good in the world.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Why do christians devote their lives trying to tell how others what they should and shouldn't do with their bodies; who they should and shouldn't love (just to name a couple of the things they do)?

      December 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • AE

      Why are you still trolling, Mary? Read the Good Book. It will give you real questions to ask, instead if the rhetorical ones you keep asking on a pitiful attempt to call yourself "published".

      December 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • mrsinned

      Mary, where do you get your information? "devote their entire lives"? I'm an atheist and I rarely think about the existence of a higher being as I go about living my life according to a very simple code: try to do the right thing every moment of every day. Contrary to your personal observations, most often, I'm reminded that there is a dispute based on statements from those who BELIEVE in a higher being (e.g., this article is not about a global organization of atheists, it's about a global organization of believers – one of many – and this one's called the Catholic church). And how do we "condemn" something by simply disagreeing about its existence? Your comments are quite loaded that could reveal your inner sense of indignation at the notion that others would dare disagree about the existence of God. I could disagree that Pepsi is better than Coke and you wouldn't think that I'm "condemning" Pepsi. It's this undercurrent of judgment of "how dare you question" that I personally find dogmatic and distateful. It's often why these discussions go nowhere. There's no room for dissent in the eyes of some believers.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • gary

        I agree I agree I agree .. well said!

        December 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • gary

      They don't they just ignore religion and then when they (Christians as example) do something AGAIN that's stupid .. well I say they are stupid once again. There's no marching atheists.. there are marching Christians .. Palin Prayer Groupies .. religion has a lot more dumbness to show than atheists .. religion and cults .. same definition

      December 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sly

      Mary, get over the persecution complex.

      I haven't spent ten minutes of my life thinking about you religious folks. I politely decline your books at airports, and y'all can chant 'Hari Hari Hari' all day long – it seems to make you religous folks happy.

      I'm all for your happiness, but don't think that most of us have given your personal opinions more than 10 seconds of thought. Why should we? We're happy, and if you are happy, that's all good.

      I don't tell you to believe in 'insect dismemberment', or whatever hobby I may have, so keep your hobbies to yourself.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Sly, you really sound like a happy soul,and you have managed to obviously put it all together and are in a state of perpetual enlightenment with no anger or animosity to any and all."sarcasm"

        December 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Some Antics

    A Christian cannot wait to be proved right. Many atheists wish they would be proved wrong but got tired of waiting at the front door with our tounges out and tails wagging.

    December 17, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      December 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  19. Bill

    Who is keeping an eye on the Vatican while he is roaming the streets.I would rather see this leader, lead by making changes in the Vatican. The problem with the popes of the past decades is they allowed large numbers of their flocks in America and Europe to leave the church for whatever reasons. These whatever reasons should have been addressed. I doubt it is because they don't believe in God and more so with old tradition and lack of caring for the poor in Europe and America. Everything seems to be concern for Africa and South America. I personally have a problem feeding the poor in the other continents and not taking care of those in need in my own country first.

    December 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • SteveInMN

      I don't recall Jesus having administrated from his world HQ (?!?!)

      True leaders lead by example, not by giving orders So far, Francis is a FLAWLESS Leader.

      December 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Alex

      South America is America. Just in the south.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • DontPretend

        Wrong! South America is actually Southern Mexico.

        December 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Alex

          You are wrong. South America is south of the American continent.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • Keith

        You are right Alex

        December 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Yeah! Screw those African and South American poor people! Thanks for a classic example of someone who doesn't "get it", Bill.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • tjarksd

      He's actually doing that too. Confirmed 12 new Bishops, and didn't reaffirm 14 others.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  20. ljjm

    God bless and protect Pope Francis!

    December 17, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      tooth fairy collect pope francis' teeth

      santa bring pope francis lots of presents

      December 17, 2013 at 2:13 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.