Pope Francis joked about the difficulties of being head of the world’s Catholics, saying he never wanted the job, on Friday in unscripted comments in which he also said he had turned down luxury Vatican housing because it would be “boring”.
“Someone who wants to be pope does not really like themselves,” the pontiff said laughing, in answer to a child’s query during a question-and-answer session with Jesuit school students in the Vatican.
“I did not want to be pope,” he said.
His predecessor Benedict XVI once said he had prayed to God not to be elected pope but that “evidently this time he didn’t listen to me.”
Francis also told his audience he had decided not to move to the official papal apartments, staying in a residence hotel in the Vatican instead.
“It’s a personality problem. I need to live with people. If I lived alone, I would feel a bit isolated and it wouldn’t be good for me,” he said.
“It would be bad and boring,” he added.
“A professor asked me about this and I told him ‘Listen professor it’s for psychiatric reasons’,” the 76-year-old Argentine pope told his audience with a grin.
He also condemned global poverty as a “scandal” and urged his young audience to counter “the economic and social structures that enslave us”.
Francis said that for Christians being involved in politics was a “duty” for the common good.
“Lay Christians have to get stuck into politics. Politics is dirty but maybe it’s dirty because Christians are not involved,” he said.