Francis: 'I Did Not Want to be Pope'

Image: Francis: 'I Did Not Want to be Pope' Pope Francis leads the Rosary concluding Marian month of May near a statue of Mary on May 31 in St. Peter's square at the Vatican.

Friday, 07 Jun 2013 01:17 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Pope Francis made a startling confession on Friday — revealing that he never wanted to be the world leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"I did not want to be Pope," Francis told an audience of Jesuit students during a candid question-and-answer session at the Vatican, The Telegraph of London reported Friday.

Jokingly, he continued, "Someone who wants to be Pope does not really like themselves."

Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

The pontiff added there was a reason he had rejected living in a luxurious apartment at the Vatican, opting instead to reside in its modest residence hotel. "It would be bad and boring," he explained.

Francis, 76, continued with a grin, "A professor asked me about this and I told him 'Listen professor, it's for psychiatric reasons.'"

During the same audience with the students, the Pope also condemned global poverty, labeling it a "scandal," The Telegraph reported.

He told his young charges they must fight "the economic and social structures that enslave us," and said Christians should become involved in politics because it was their "duty."

"Lay Christians have to get stuck into politics. Politics is dirty, but maybe it's dirty because Christians are not involved," he said.

Francis is not the first pope to reveal he had no aspirations to head the church.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned Feb. 28, once said he had prayed to God not to be elected to the position.

"Evidently this time he didn't listen to me," Benedict quipped at the time.

According to The Telegraph, Pope Francis also revealed Friday that he will not spend the summer in the luxurious church palace in the hills of Castel Gandolfo, breaking a centuries-old tradition.

Instead, he will remain in Vatican City, in the Domus Santa Marta residence where he has lived in since March, his spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

One reason that Popes usually leave Rome for the summer is the stifling and oppressively humid heat that envelopes the city for several months.

Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

But on Sunday, Francis does plan to make a brief journey to Castel Gandolfo, where he'll say a Sunday blessing.

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