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December 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– If St. Peter ever needs help at the Pearly Gates, his successor Pope Francis may be the perfect man for the job.

The popular pontiff was once a bouncer at a nightclub in his native Argentina, Francis told Catholics at a church outside Rome earlier this week.

He has also swept floors and run tests in a chemical laboratory, the Pope said, in revelations sure to boost his image as a "pope of the people." And, as leader of the Jesuit community in Argentina, he woke at 5:30 a.m. to do the priests' laundry, according to author Christopher Lowney.

READ MORE: When Pope Francis was put on laundry duty

Francis didn't offer details about his career as a bouncer, according to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, or what connection his velvet-rope experience might have to his current job as Vicar of Christ and head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Instead, the Pope told the church group, "his work later in life, teaching literature and psychology, taught him how to get people back into the church," reports Catholic News Service.

Getting people into church seems to be Pope Francis' primary mission these days, as made clear by his most recent official statement, a 50,000-word pep talk to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

In "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), officially known as an "apostolic exhortation," Francis calls for church reforms, urges Catholics to be more bold and joyful, and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets," the Pope said, "rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."

Did Francis leave a few barflies bruised and hurting during his bouncing days? No word on that from the Vatican yet.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Leaders • Pope Francis

soundoff (1,229 Responses)
  1. SixDegrees

    Awesome. Can't wait for the Francis/Limbaugh cage match!

    December 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  2. Carl

    I I love Pope Francis. If I was Christian I would definitely think about being a Catholic. I just really like the stuff he says.
    This man is true leader. He seems to understand that churches that don't adapt and evolve are doomed.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Franco

      This is why the Catholic church has survived 2,0000 years, because it has and does change with the times. I am not sure whether that is good or bad though.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Valentina

        I think it's good to adapt to the times so long as the timeless message of the Gospel id not altered.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  3. Reality # 2

    So what!! He still cannot come to grips with the error-filled theology and history of Christianity.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Me

      His teaching in not for your then but for the rest of the world.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  4. Nodack

    I'm non religious, but I like this guy. Anybody that Rush Limbaugh hates is a friend of mine.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Nice to meet you friend! We all know Rush hates me."

      – yours,
      Rationality

      December 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  5. And Jesus said

    This could be a poor translation, he might have been saying he once bounced from bar to bar. I will wait for Rush to give me further clarification.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Mike Denney

      Exactly! I was gonna say:
      'lost in translation, he probably meant 'fly".

      December 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    I'm home, *hic* take me drunk mr. Popey sir...*hic*

    December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  7. RabbleRabbleRabble

    Have we considered this pope might be Patrick Swazye? I mean has anyone ever seen them in the same room together?

    December 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • pd

      haha gold

      December 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • nuts

      u remember when the pope brought extra wheels to the bar, cuz he knew the tires would get slashed? that was him!

      December 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  8. Rainey

    As he heaved the trouble maker out the bar door I wonder If he said: Don't let the door hit you on the A & & on the way out...Oh, an BTW, Bless You My son.....

    December 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Franco

      I am sure if he was truly a bouncer, he must have done a few unsavory things. The Saints of the past had some skeletons in their closets and no one is perfect.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  9. Adam

    I admire this pope for being so humble and down to earth…..… and I am Muslim

    December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I am glad this pope is normal for being humble and down to earth…..… and I am Atheist.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • Mike Denney

        Wow, you'd think with all these 'theists' running around, we'd have some real religion down here.
        (hint: so many say "I'm a theist", haha)

        December 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Andy

    I'm not Catholic, but I really like this Pope. I was born Jewish, both parents were Jewish. I'm adopted and only know my adopted Jewish parents and I actually accept Jesus Christ as my savior. But I call Jesus 'Yeshua' which is his real name. So I guess I'm an every mans kind of guy as well. I hope Pope Francis show peace fore all is the way to go.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  11. Am_man

    Watch out Rush!!!!

    December 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Brian

      Nice comment!

      December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Lolsly

    I can't stop laughing at slys comment! LOL

    December 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  13. Susan StoHelit

    Some time living in the real world is likely key to some of the difference with this guy than the others.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • JDD

      Susan,

      I recommend a book by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) called "Milestones 1927-1977" and a book by John Paul II called "Crossing the Threshold of Hope." I've read both and they are quite good.

      In addition, you may be interested to know that both popes were youths in war-torn countries. Benedict's father was a police officer. John Paul II was, among other things, involved in sports and theater. Both of these recent 'others' lived particularly immersed in the real world.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • John

        Actually, John Paul II was also involved with supporting the underground during WWII.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  14. Blue

    we need more of this "real" humor in our lives, especially when it pertains to things that we always knew or thought were to be "perfect" i like this guy alot!

    December 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Miguel

    A bouncer ? I love this guy.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Rainey

      As he heaved the trouble maker out the bar door I wonder If he said: Don't let the door hit you on the A & & on the way out...Oh, an BTW, Bless You My son.....

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  16. Mp jojo

    DO NOT QUESTION THE POPE

    11/26 08:36:43

    he's

    Inffalib...

    Infal...

    he's never wrong.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Me

      Get a life.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  17. sly

    Who cares what this religious guy did when he was younger? He is an extremely right wing conservative, by definition. I stay away from religious right wingers at all costs.

    Maybe he should elaborate on his role supporting the Right Wing Fascist Death Squads in Argentina. I wonder how many young children 'disappeared' with his knowlege. Quite a few I'll bet.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • someguysarerude

      Does Limbaugh know of your inside info? Please let him know right away, the sooner he'll have his scheduled coronary.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Dustin

      Staying away from conservatives is probably best for you. You possess neither the intelligence nor strength of character to oppose us, and you bring nothing worthwhile to the table in a debate anyway. Stay in your dark little corner of life and leave the running of this world to people with the balls to do it.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Chris_NYC_Ghent

        I agree that sly's comment wasn't terribly well argued and sounded less than brilliant. But you came off that way as well. You can judge someone's "strength of character" from a few words? You leap to quite a few conclusions about this individual with nothing to back them up except for what seem to be your prejudices, which is ironically what you're accusing sly of. Neither one of you is doing much to advance your sides of the spectrum.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • rahul

          amen to that.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • sly

        Sorry if I offended your TeaBillieKKK sensabilities ...

        Thank God we have a moderate, middle of the road President of the United States, who IS running this world, as all American Presidents do.

        I do wish Americans would at some point elect a left-wing President, but there hasn't been one since JFK. At least Hillary is moderate, but frankly, Hillary, Obama, Clinton and Bush all represent basically the middle '50%' of America.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Martin

      An extremely conservative right wing Marxist. Interesting.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • That's What Jesus Would Do

      Ignorant.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Tyrone

    The pope is a joke

    December 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Dan

      C'mon, he's pretty awesome, regardless of your feelings about the church as a whole

      December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • dUJ

      Ok TYROOOON

      December 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • da pope

      how dare you talk about me like that?

      December 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lainie11

      Yes, this Pope is a joke. He donned a red clown nose at one recent function, and held the Catholic Woodstock in Brazil a few months ago, where all the Bishops were swaying like drugged hippies. God forbid if this is what the church is supposed to be. As a cradle Catholic, I am ashamed of this. Can you see the Queen of England donning a red clown nose? No dignity whatsoever.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • That's What Jesus Would Do

        Jesus walked the streets barefoot and ate with criminals... the queen wouldn't do that either.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • bczu

        Your life is meaningless....and so is your opinion.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • Vince

        Didn't Jesus wash the feet of his followers? I think it's about time a religious leader followed Christ's actions. Too many Christians just take the label, yet do nothing to follow these values. I've heard far too many "Christians" talking about how poor are only poor because they're lazy. These same people support wars while demonizing food stamps and universal healthcare. Would rather spend money on fighting wars than on supporting our fellow man.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Lainie11

          The Catholic Church exists for the worship of God (First three commandments) and is a means to live well and piously (next 7 commandments). These spiritual means will ultimately lead to "good works" without which we cannot gain heaven. There is absolutely no spirituality in the modern Catholic church; worship of God has been all but thrown out. To focus only on the material needs of individuals of lesser means and those who are public sinners while not correcting the sinner is certainly not the gospel of Jesus Christ. What Christ told the woman at the well was "go and sin no more". We hear none of that from Francis.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • NelsonLeonard

          Actually, Lainie, the Catholic Church teaches that you can be saved without "good works". Actually, other religions like to lob this at Catholicism e.g. "good works" will save you as if we are saying Christ's sacrifice did not happen. If a man has lived a life of cruelty and then has a change of heart, is truly sorry for his sins and then dies (the proverbial "deathbed conversion") he can 'be saved" without having done a good work in his life. Christ dying on the Cross as our Saviour did that. Now,what other religions do not acknowledge is that were that man to continue his life, he would have to treat others with compassion and love and, yes, good works such as feeding the hungry, as faith without love is pretty meaningless. For Catholics, the sacraments are an important part of that.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
      • batman

        This is the first Pope that reflects an everyday person – The Father who works the night shift, the Mom who wakes up early to prepare lunch for her kids, the brother or sister struggling to find their way in school. He's laying it all bare.

        You as a cradle Catholic should be proud of the fact that this is what Jesus did until the very end. Don't be a Judas when you are called upon to support the basic tenets of Christ and the first Pope

        December 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • JDD

          "This is the first Pope that reflects an everyday person..."

          I appreciate your other comments, but I don't think this is accurate. Google their lives and you may find a different picture. It appears that his human side is being more fully reported on than the Popes before him. For example, how many people know that Pope Benedict walked to work everyday for many years?

          December 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • JDD

        "the Catholic Woodstock"... do you mean World Youth Day?

        Anyone's free to look up "WYD Central" for more info. I attended myself back in 2000 in Rome, and I can assure you it was no picnic, but rather a spiritual pilgrimage which has had a lasting effect on me.

        December 3, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • NelsonLeonard

        I am a cradle Catholic and proud of this man and what he has said or revealed to show his connection to the rest of us. Do I think it is possible to go too far?- Maybe- and he might as he searches for ways to relate. I do not believe my Pope is perfect in everything he says or does (he is only human after all) and is only infallible when he speaks from the "Chair of St. Peter." I will probably get arguments on that!

        December 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • Women Should Be Priests

        Yes Lainie... let's go back to the days of priests chanting in Latin with their backs to the congregation. Continue to shun women, divorced people, and victims of priestly pedophilia. Those were the good-old days, right?!

        Continue to mumble through your 52 minutes of mass each week and telling yourself that you're a good Catholic. It's your obligation, right?

        December 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • K-switch

      "the pope is a joke"

      Not a very funny one.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Say it ain't so

      you're lucky he's not a bouncer anymore or he'd come after you...

      December 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Me

      Get a life, Tyrone.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Akita

    I like this Pope more and more every day.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol. DYAC.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  20. Red

    Hey, it aint how you start, it's how you finish. Nobody's perfect. So what if the Pope had to whip a little a*s back in the day?

    December 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.