In an interview with a homeless man who makes his living selling newspapers in Holland, Pope Francis reveals that he never had dreams of one day becoming Pope. He said he had once wanted to be a butcher.
He made the comment in an interview with Straatnieuws, a Dutch newspaper written by and for homeless people.
The Pope met 51-year-old Marc, who was accompanied by Frank Dries, the Straatnieuws newspaper’s editor, Stijn Fen, a journalist, and Jan-Willem Wits, the former spokesman of the Dutch Bishops’ conference, at the Vatican late last month.
“I’ll tell you a little secret,” he said. “I was very little. I was four years old.
“There was a market with a butcher and a fruit-seller. I used to go with my mother and my grandma to do the shopping. “One time they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said: ‘a butcher'”.
The interview began with a question about the Pope’s early days in Buenos Aires where the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio would often sneak out of his home to play soccer with his classmates. The Pope admitted that although he loved to play, he wasn’t exactly a star athlete. “In Buenos Aires, those who played soccer like me were called ‘pata dura,’ which means ‘having two left feet.’ I played; I was the goalie many times,” he said.
The Pope recalling the poor Italian woman who worked as his family’s housekeeper, made it known that his personal commitment to those in need was rooted in his childhood. “Her poverty struck me”, he said as he disclosed that his mother often gave her the necessities she lacked in her own home.
The woman eventually went back to Italy and returned to Argentina many years later when the Pope was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
“I accompanied her until she died at 93 years old. One day she gave me a Sacred Heart of Jesus medal that I carry with me every day”, the Pope said, adding that it serves as a daily reminder of how she and many others suffer due to poverty.
He has advised Church leaders to live simpler lives and he set the example himself by voluntarily giving up the spacious papal apartments for a small suite in the Vatican guest house. Francis told the paper that he would not have been able to live in the papal apartments, which he called big but not luxurious, “simply for mental reasons”.
When asked if he fears that people will grow tired of his defense of the poor and refugees, the Pope noted that while he does feel that some may be tired of it, “it does not scare me. I must continue to speak the truth and unfold how things are.”
“It is my duty, I feel it inside me. It is not a commandment, but as people, we all must do it,” he said.
Pope Francis also stressed that the Church should be “a witness of poverty”, but there are also temptations to lead by words alone and not by deeds. “If a believer speaks about poverty or the homeless and lives the life of a pharaoh; this cannot be done,” he continued.
He also warned against the dangers of corruption in both political and religious life, recollecting that during the Falklands War, many people, including Catholics, would take home the food and supplies they had been tasked with distributing to others.
“It is corruption: a piece for me and another piece for me,” he said.