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'I Didn't Want To Be Pope,' Francis Tells Group Of Children

Pope Francis speaks with Jesuit school students Friday at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro
AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis speaks with Jesuit school students Friday at the Vatican.

Speaking to a huge group of children Friday at the Vatican, Pope Francis pushed aside a set of prepared remarks to talk directly to them and answer some of their questions.

One of his frank responses to a girl named Teresa was this: "Anyone who wants to be Pope doesn't care much for themselves, God doesn't bless them. I didn't want to be Pope," reports Reuters.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, is known for his intense focus on the poor and inequality. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli says, Francis has dumped flashy symbols of papal power, such as ornate vestments and shoes. He's already denounced "the cult of money," saying currency is supposed to serve people, not to rule them.

As Sylvia noted, Francis has also abandoned the papal apartment in the Vatican, remaining in a hotel-like Vatican residence known as St. Martha's House. Another girl asked him Friday why he favored the more simple living quarters.

"I can't live alone, do you understand?" he replied, according to the Catholic News Agency. "It's not a question of my personal virtue, it's just that I can't live alone." Francis added that he was once questioned by a professor about his living arrangements, and that he replied it was necessary for "psychiatric reasons, because that's my personality." The pope also joked that the papal apartments aren't as sumptuous as people think they are.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.
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