I wanted to be a butcher when I was young, con­fesses pope

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - PHILIP PUL­LELLA

VAT­I­CAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis, who has vowed to re­form the Ro­man Catholic Church, mak­ing it leaner and sim­pler, has dis­closed that as a lit­tle boy he wanted to be­come a butcher.

He made the com­ment in an in­ter­view with Straat­nieuws, a Dutch news­pa­per writ­ten by and for home­less peo­ple.

Asked if he ever dreamed of be­com­ing pope when he was young, Fran­cis re­called that he of­ten went with his mother and grand­mother to shop at a lo­cal mar­ket be­cause there were no stores in the Ar­gen­tine neigh­bour­hood where he grew up.

“I’ll tell you a se­cret,” he said. “I was very lit­tle. I was 4 years old. One time they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said: ‘a butcher’,” he said.

Since his elec­tion in 2013 as the first non-Euro­pean pope in 1 300 years, the pon­tiff has stressed that he wants a church that is poor and for the poor. He has urged church lead­ers to live sim­pler lives and set the ex­am­ple him­self by re­lin­quish­ing the spa­cious pa­pal apart­ments for a small suite in the Vat­i­can guest house. Fran­cis said he would not have been able to live in the pa­pal apart­ments, which he called big but not lux­u­ri­ous, “sim­ply for men­tal rea­sons”.

“It would have meant be­ing iso­lated... this place does me good be­cause I feel free,” he said, adding that his life­style made the Vat­i­can feel “less of a gilded cage”.

“I miss the street,” he told the in­ter­view­ers but de­clined their of­fer to step out of the Vat­i­can for a pizza, some­thing he said in a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view that he missed be­ing able to do.

“I would love to but we would not be able to do it. The mo­ment I step out­side, peo­ple would mob me,” he said.

Asked if he ever felt pres­sure to sell some of the trea­sures of the church, such as artis­tic trea­sures like Michelan­gelo’s Pi­eta, which is in St Pe­ter’s Basil­ica, he said he could not be­cause they be­longed to the whole world.

“I can­not put it (the Pi­eta) up for auc­tion be­cause it is not the prop­erty of the church. It is in a church but it be­longs to hu­man­ity. That is true for all the trea­sures of the church,” he said, re­peat­ing what church lead­ers have said about many of its artis­tic trea­sures.

The Vat­i­can has auc­tioned off gifts given to the pope in lot­ter­ies and handed the pro­ceeds to the poor. – Reuters

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