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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

(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. Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

    John Compere, PhD

    I was a fifth-generation Baptist minister, ordained at age 18, while in college. I served until age 32 when I left the ministry and the church to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I had already completed a three-year seminary degree following college, which only increased my doubts about the authenticity of the theology I had learned from childhood. Leaving the ministry was not an easy decision to make since all my friends and family were in the church. But it was a decision I ultimately HAD to make if I didn't want to risk being publicly phony and privately cynical. I became an agnostic, then an atheist, NOT because I hadn't read the Bible, but because I had! An atheist, by the way, is simply someone who does not believe in a supernatural being. I am convinced that the evidence supports that view. All religion suffers from being bound by unchanging myth.

    As a psychologist, I continued to try to help people find meaning in their lives. I taught at the university and medical school, had a private clinical practice, and then became a professional speaker on "Psychology You Can USE!" I seriously doubt that life has any ultimate meaning, but I'm convinced that we can make our own meaning, and I have spent the last 45 years since I left the ministry trying to help people do just that. Success is not the goal - all therapists have dealt with many a successful person who was miserable - life satisfaction is the goal.

    When I made my career change, I was essentially on my own. I wish something like The Clergy Project had been around then. I could surely have used it. The goal of this project is not to try to convince believing clergy to give up their faith. Rather, it is to help those in the clergy who, for their own individual reasons, are no longer able to believe, to try to figure out how to make a huge sea-change in their lives. It may well be the absolutely most challenging career change anyone can make. We simply want to help make it easier.

    December 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • doobzz

      Are you planning to post this two or three times on every page?

      December 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  2. JJ

    What's really pathetic are all of you who are fooled by these photo ops by this elected leader of the pedophile infested cult called the RCC. You are delusional and disgusting. Only following a religion can cause an otherwise decent person to defend child rapists.

    December 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Calhusker

      God bless our Holy Father, Pope Francis. I will pray for you JJ.

      December 17, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  3. Jenny M

    Pope Francis has jumped the shark...
    http://mankabros.com/blogs/god/2013/12/11/has-pope-francis-jumped-the-shark/

    December 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

      As an atheist, I'll say "hardly."

      December 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
      • doobzz

        "As an atheist, I'll say "hardly."

        What does being an atheist have to do with this? It's just a bit of fun. Are you saying that all atheists are sourpusses?

        December 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          Acknowledging positives for this pope as someone who opposes belief.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
        • doobzz

          I see. Did you bother to click on the link? It was just a funny little bit of nonsense, like the Charlie Sheen thing. No reason to get your panties in a bunch over it.

          Maybe a glass of wine or a hot bath would restore your sense of humor. Maybe not.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          Oh, please, if you're to step up to the plate, take a real swing!

          December 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • doobzz

          Sure thing, copy/paste attention whore. Try coming up with an original thought.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  4. faith

    It would have been really cool if they had let Charlie Sheen be a stand-in for one of the homeless men.

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

      LMAO! Now THAT I'd pay to see!

      December 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
      • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

        It would be disrespectful to a man who is trying to show Catholics who are stymied in their recitational belief that they need to be much more. You don't have to agree with the religion, but you should be glad to see a change for the better. Religion is going to disappear slowly, not quickly, and that requires patience, understanding, but continuous effort.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
        • doobzz

          Oh, good grief, get the stick out of your ass and enjoy life. It was funny.

          But if you want to talk about disrespect, let's talk about how he has ignored the thousands of children who were abused at the hands of his priests.

          December 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          I understand. You are a right wing atheist. Take a good look at how a left wing atheist thinks.

          December 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
        • doobzz

          Boy, aren't you a treat? Get off your high horse, you know nothing about me.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          Your responses tell me everything about you.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • doobzz

          Like I said, get off your high horse and quit being an asshat. You don't know anything about me.

          Go back to copy/pasting other people's words because you suck at coming up with anything valid on your own.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          Truly, you show just how much you have to learn in life, still.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • doobzz

          Truly, you sound like a very boring and humorless person.

          December 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          You can take mincraft off pause now and return to your game. But when you acquire some wisdom, say in about twenty years, please return (hint, you'll have to actually spend some time thinking about things).

          December 17, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
        • doobzz

          Really? The "You must be a pasty faced, basement dwelling, teenager" stereotype is the best you can do?

          Perhaps you should go back to falsifying resumes, copying and pasting excerpts from someone else's book, and pimping the pope, because you are terrible at analysis. You really are.

          December 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

          Here, I'll let you have the last word (so you can go back to your video game).

          December 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
        • doobzz

          No, please, keep it up. Now about that Duke summer course....

          December 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  5. Greg

    Well, I could tell you I'm sorry, but, I'm not...

    After reading through about 40 of 463 (at last count) of these posts, I believe about 80% of us posters are idiots...NOT because I don't agree with you, but because most of you can't (or don't) present your thoughts in a respectful, intelligent manner...regardless of the subject!

    Trolls!

    December 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • mindstorms1

      Greg, This is the Internet and comments that are logical and well thought out are few and far between. The Internet is a great place for any idiot to make a comment on an article as many of the comments so perfectly illustrate.

      December 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Oh

      "....I believe about 80% of us posters are idiots....because most of you can't (or don't) present your thoughts in a respectful, intelligent manner...."

      ------------–

      lol, way to present your thoughts in a respectful, intelligent manner...lol

      December 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
      • Calhusker

        Is that the best you got Oh? "lol"

        December 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  6. Frank

    This man is not trying to be a saint. He is just trying to walk the walk. After all these other popes he seems like a breath of fresh air.

    December 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • more news

      nothing like a pope who destroys children who have already been abused. No walk any decent person would take. This pope? Just as evil.

      December 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • K

        This Pope (or any of the prior Popes) could do everything you wanted with respect to making amends and safeguarding children ... and it wouldn't be enough. You'll simply move the goal posts. I can here it now: "he should have done this on top of everything else" or "he should have done it sooner".

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

          Rather presumptuous of you to assume you know what will or won't satisfy someone wrt the child abuse that the RCC has covered up for decades.

          He should have done something the day he took office. But here we are, almost a year later and still....nothing.

          December 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Doris

      You know I think you may be right. As an agnostic I of course disagree with several key tenets of Catholicism, but it does seem like he genuinely wants to project his down-to-earth approach into the higher ranks. Time will tell.

      December 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
      • more news

        OK priest.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  7. james

    The Pope is merely a man who represents a high position in the church. This Pope did not even want to be Pope and had his bags packed and ready to leave after the conclave. All religions have their different names, ideas beliefs, traditions- but they all have the same thing in common. FAITH. People forget that this is what it's all about. I know personally from almost dying 5 separate times- all in separate states and during different times and ages of my life, that God- Allah – whoever you call him/her...exists. Faith is believing in something or someone bigger than yourself. Religion (back in the day) was a form of LAW. They have laws today based on secular laws from our different religions and they all have the same common theme. Don't kill people- Don't sleep with your neighbor's wife. Don't steal ect ect ect..... Something has to keep people form going crazy and doing bad things. Religion not only gives people a structured foundation for faith, but it also governs who we act as a society today. This Pope is a very nice man who wants to change all the bad things that have happened in the church. You have to give him a little credit for at least trying – I mean he's in the world's oldest and largest, nor to mention "most powerful" "GOOD OL BOY'S club in the world. He's got a huge amount of courage to do this knowing that they are probably not too happy with him right now.

    So good for him. At least he's trying.

    December 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • james

      sorry for the typos – it's been a long day.

      December 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • more news

      denies children abused,, not a club any decent man would be in

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

        As a matter of FACT, he doesn't deny it. He has formed a commision whose job it is to make sure it is stopped and never happens again.

        December 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  8. cindy

    A truly humble servant of God. Too bad the whole world isn't filled with men like Pope Francis.

    December 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • doobzz

      You mean men who let other men rape children with no accountability?

      December 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • more news

      thankfully not,, or the world would have too many con men denying abused children

      December 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  9. Justice

    Unbelievable how far this pope is willing to go to play out his role in keeping his own personal saintly delusion alive.

    Sounds like a great sitcom... The Pope, Four Men and a Dog: Comical beginning to the end of worldwide poverty.

    Sorry, I'm not impressed!

    December 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • obanon

      Justice, you're so cynical!
      Pope Francis at least appears to be practicing what he preaches, which is more than can be said for many religious "leaders".

      December 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • more news

        yeah, denying abused children. How low can any human be? Not as low as he, the bishops and cardinals

        December 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • james

      Do you take candy from small children ? We'll start calling you "the Grinch"

      December 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • doobzz

        It's better than taking the virginity of children in the back room of the church.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  10. Doris

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQfGn71AuCI&w=640&h=360]

    December 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • james

      It has nothing to do with the Pope.... but it is funny !

      December 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  11. tat

    what – no homeless women? Men only?

    December 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • doobzz

      It's the RCC. Women don't count.

      December 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • more news

        women are treated as 2nd class in the RCC

        December 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  12. Juan

    God teaches human how to love and to help each others. He teaches the value of family, hard work NOT DIVORCING or STEALING or DISTRIBUTING OF WEALTH. So is the Pope.

    December 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  13. efsullyjr

    Republicans could learn a lot from Pope Francis. Like how to be a REAL Christian who spends time with the poor rather than attacking them and someone who doesn’t use his “faith” to stir up fear & loathing of gays at election time.

    December 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • more news

      and how to destroy children victims of abuse. This pope does it all

      December 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • doobzz

      Do most Christians have an aide who can go out, find a few homeless men, screen them, clean them up, then bring them back to your own private country to have breakfast for the cameras?

      December 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Dan

      Ironic that a Democrat whose party seems to support the devils agenda is saying that Republicans need to learn from the Pope. Do you remember that at the last Democratic convention that the Democrats booed and jeered at the thought that the word "God" would be even mentioned in their statement.

      December 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  14. Youtube - Teresa MacBain

    A testimonial from John Compere, PhD

    "I was a fifth-generation Baptist minister, ordained at age 18, while in college. I served until age 32 when I left the ministry and the church to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I had already completed a three-year seminary degree following college, which only increased my doubts about the authenticity of the theology I had learned from childhood. Leaving the ministry was not an easy decision to make since all my friends and family were in the church. But it was a decision I ultimately HAD to make if I didn't want to risk being publicly phony and privately cynical. I became an agnostic, then an atheist, NOT because I hadn't read the Bible, but because I had! An atheist, by the way, is simply someone who does not believe in a supernatural being. I am convinced that the evidence supports that view. All religion suffers from being bound by unchanging myth.

    As a psychologist, I continued to try to help people find meaning in their lives. I taught at the university and medical school, had a private clinical practice, and then became a professional speaker on "Psychology You Can USE!" I seriously doubt that life has any ultimate meaning, but I'm convinced that we can make our own meaning, and I have spent the last 45 years since I left the ministry trying to help people do just that. Success is not the goal - all therapists have dealt with many a successful person who was miserable - life satisfaction is the goal.

    When I made my career change, I was essentially on my own. I wish something like The Clergy Project had been around then. I could surely have used it. The goal of this project is not to try to convince believing clergy to give up their faith. Rather, it is to help those in the clergy who, for their own individual reasons, are no longer able to believe, to try to figure out how to make a huge sea-change in their lives. It may well be the absolutely most challenging career change anyone can make. We simply want to help make it easier."

    December 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • more news

      I believe one day we will have de-programming therapy available to help catholics break their OCD and leave the church to healthier lives.

      December 17, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Greg

      With all due respect, after re-reading your post 3X, I have yet to see the relevance to this article...

      December 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
      • Youtube - Teresa MacBain "Shift Happens"

        Well, I am glad you have examined it three times. I'm and atheist. It is not relevant to the article, but rather to the bigger question lingering in every Christian's mind.

        So, to be at least partly on point for this article, I'll say I feel a connection with this pope's spirit of humanity. He's putting it out there and telling everyone to do the same. He's shaking the Church, and showing all Christians what it means to walk the path of Jesus, rather than remaking Jesus into our image so that we can continue walking the path we choose.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Joe

      It takes a lot of faith to be an Atheist. You have hope that one day science will prove that no ONE exists in the after life. In the mean time: Keep the faith

      December 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • more news

        actually, no faith needed. Faith would be anti-science.

        December 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        No, becoming atheist just involves being able to recognize nonsense. You can do it. Start small. Tell yourself there is no boogeyman until you believe it. Then work on the other things that make you afraid of the dark. Learn to enjoy scary stories and not be afraid.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • doobzz

      "It is with great sadness that I write to you today. I have committed a grave error in judgment that I deeply regret. While I did not do anything with malice or with intention to harm others, my actions were still wrong. I take full responsibility for my false reporting of my education in the recent NYT article and offer my apologies to all of you.

      While it is true that I attended Duke Divinity under a special program for pastors transferring from another denomination, I did not earn a degree. As I’ve worked among you, I claimed the latter degree status instead of explaining the true nature of my theological education. The truth is… I lied on my resume. I did not earn a degree.

      Many assumed the degree was a standard M.Div. and I went along with it. I should have stopped the error immediately, but did not. I cannot change these things so I must face them head on and own them.

      With the loss of my job, my family and I will be moving soon to an undetermined location. Because of my choices I’ve placed my family in dire straits. This too is a consequence of my actions." – Teresa MacBain

      December 18, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • ??

      Nice ad!

      December 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • doobzz

        Yeah, too bad she got caught lying on her resume and got fired from Harvard.

        December 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  15. more news

    ...it's nice to see all the catholic clergy posting as mom, non catholic,.. out doing what they do best, scam and deceive. Without them, there would likely be no praise for the con man, the pope.

    December 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • doobzz

      Not to mention all the "I used to be a Catholic and now I'm thinking of coming back to the RCC because this pope is sooooo awesome!"

      December 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • more news

        I've seen that one too. Have they no shame

        December 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • JJ

      Or the "I'm atheist but I really like this guy...".

      December 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  16. NeoKat1

    Thank you Pope Francis!! This world needs more leaders like you!!

    December 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • sincere

      yes, to show criminals who destroy children to go free.

      December 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • needNewGov

        Pope Francis has nothing to do with the pedophile issue. While you may have an issue with organized religion you should try and find out what makes this Pope different.

        December 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
        • doobzz

          Why don't you explain it to us? Because so far I see lots of pretty pictures, and a pope that blew off the UN when it came to the abuse perpetrated by his priests.

          Who is responsible if not the leader?

          December 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • more news

          francis was a cardinal,, without the cardinals and bishops support, the cover ups couldn't have been successful.

          You actually believe for one moment he didn't show up to those meetings?? he now avoids the issue enabling the bishops to lobby to stop laws that would help children victims. Yep, now all children abused are denied, no matter who abused.

          Nice con man.

          December 17, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  17. NUCLEARMIND

    I am a better man- a kinder man-because of Pope Francis.

    December 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • more news

      you need to be able to destroy abused children if you want to be like him

      December 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  18. Charm Quark

    Okay, the guy is a Jesuit a man for the people but has a large problem with the council of cardinals protecting their turf, I admire what he is trying to do. He has also got the best PR department of anyone, just great photo ops. Obama should try and get hold of these guys just to try and stop the bleeding.

    December 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • sincere

      PR to duck child abuse cover ups.. he's a quack

      December 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  19. omeany

    I'm a non catholic but I just can't help loving this man for genuinely demonstrating the love of God to those who need it the most. Now let's all follow his example and transform the world we live in.

    December 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • I'm charlie manson

      and I love this pope

      December 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • I'm charlie manson

      guess you don't care about child abuse cover ups, the worst crimes. The popes refusal to answer to the UN for crimes against children worldwide.

      Bet you're a clergy. Clergy love to deceive. Just like they roam around in nursing homes looking for $$$

      December 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
      • Calhusker

        Name me one private organization that does more for the poor and sick.

        December 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • doobzz

          Name me one that rakes in more tax free, unaccounted for money than the RCC. It's the people's donations, it's not like they are selling off their stuff to provide for anyone.

          December 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          The Bill Gates Foundation with the help of Warren Buffet and Michael Bloomberg, aid without strings attached. The Catholic charities provide aid for land in Africa and will provide medical aid with the inclusion of birth control prohibitions, so if you subtract the harm they do from the good they scr ape the bottom of the barrel.

          December 17, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Calhusker
          You may also want to clue into where the true priorities lie. The bling Bishop in Germany spent $41 million to spruce up his digs then lied about it, while that diocese could only contribute a few dollars in comparison to the Philippines disaster

          December 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
      • K

        Hater.

        December 17, 2013 at 7:23 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.