December 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. bluelee

    wow cnn. this is your headline??? journalism at an all time low. thanks for the story- it changed my world.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  2. lance corporal

    he was a bouncer so he can help out at the "pearly gates".........

    WOW religion would sound a lot more real if it was discussed by adults.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Cynthia Avishegnath

      Are they sure Buddha would not be at the same pearly gate?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
      • lance corporal

        There are no pearly gate but for sure we all go to the same place. Guatama included.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  3. droid

    Unbelievably biased article CNN. Why not more more coverage of the 'knockout game' while your at it.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  4. JM

    What a wonderful man.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  5. Guest

    Although I don't share the pope's philosophical beliefs, he sure seems to be a likeable kinda fella.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  6. fedupwithfeds

    how low can you go cnn?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      how is this low?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
      • lpere71372

        Correct- I dont get it; how is that low?
        Like it or not, the Pope (and I happen to be a Catholic) is a special man. Some of the things he has done cannot be contested as wonderful.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • Dave

        He wishes they were also calling the Pope a Marxist.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  7. Harry Cline

    Stay on their a– Francis !

    December 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  8. children of Israel

    All religions are finished, especially the Vatican, with their Roman and Greek statues of graven images. AHAYAH rules in Jacob the God of Israel is our heavenly Father, his name I AM and YASHIYA thou art the Christ Son of the living God. (Proverbs 30:4) The world is shut up, now bow down to the God of Jacob and repent evil.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • wmmm

      Lol, no.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  9. socal71

    That explains why they were checking I.D's at the Vatican.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
  10. Jo blo

    Seriously CNN? Slow news day? Slow enough to try and sully the image of a man who's a thousand times better a person then any of you at cnn will ever hope to be. Shame!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Argyle

      I think the story enhanced his standing, not sully. People identify with him that much more knowing he originated from humble roots. He's stirred up the pot quickly in his short tenure, I think history will record him highly or poorly, but it won't be middle of the road. Thus far, I would put bets on he is going to go down in history as a great Pope.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      how is this sullying his image, go blo?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  11. Balt. MD

    Why is this story the main story on CNN's front page? Is there not relevant news?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • steve

      You have obviously mistaken CNN for a news outlet.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Topher

      Well, it's a biased one, anyway.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • wow

      Apparently, the Gulf Oil spill is totally over , Fukishima is all cleaned up, Syria climbed back into their hole, our vet hostage in North Korea is doing great, Obamacare, the government shut down, and whatever other boring meaningless news is not really news.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Humans at their best

      you found you way here.

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

      It's pretty significant news, as it represents a paradigm shift where the religious right loses out to a modern progressive church. The Pope is picking up followers from all over the globe, and of varying different religious beliefs. Even atheists. Society is changing forever. This is why Rush Limbaugh is so upset.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Topher

      Not really what the story is about, though. More like they got a new lede and slapped it on old info.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  12. truth

    just more deflections. Call the media.. Hey, look at me!! I'm humble.

    meanwhile he ignores the children abused and their sufferings

    December 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • JJ

      Yes, and it's appalling how many are falling for him and forgetting all about the cult's infestation of pedophiles, all the children raped, genocide, witches burned, people tortured, etc.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • K

      And what would you have him do, specifically (beyond what the Church has already done ... most importantly putting in stringent tests for incoming seminarians)? I suspect no matter what this man did, it would not be enough for you.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Topher

      Well, first I'd have him reject the non-Biblical doctrines of the Catholic church. Make sure people know the truth and get saved.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  13. poopoffpooper

    Right in the bunger, HEH??? LOL

    December 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  14. Corey

    So what? Is that a crime? NO! GET OVER IT AND FIND SOME REAL NEWS!!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  15. Hariharan.D

    Do Pope says no business anymore as usual . Shall I guess all the Pops were doing business with the world Catholics and Nuns. All mal practices done in business of America and many European country are in the awareness of old Pops ?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • steve

      A wild guess. English is not your first language

      December 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
      • sally

        ha ha!

        December 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  16. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Catholicism that are hard to get around. I was brought up a Catholic, but after a while, I simply could no longer believe. The more I honestly questioned my faith, the more I realized I was pretending to believe because I desperately wanted to.

    1. At its most fundamental level, all Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point in our evolution from Hom.o Erectus, gave us eternal life and, about 200,000 years later, sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies. One would have thought that a visitor from the creator of the Universe would visit (or at least mention) the millions up millions of Chinese and other Asians, all the people spread throughout North and South America, the Australian Aboriginals, the ancient Europeans or the Subsaharan Africans. Instead, his entire visit and his entire Holy Book, the Bible, is 100% concentrated on the Jews. It seems obvious beyond any rational doubt that the Jews made God in their image and not vice-versa.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and observing the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Catholicism does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Catholicism. To the extent we reject Catholic morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Catholic – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Catholicism admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. This is probably the mother of all understatements. In any event, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Catholic based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Catholic faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • RONM


      December 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • are122

      You forgot to add that rocks and balls of gas no doubt generated the physics that control the universe...the odds of male and female simultaneously developing (and re-creating themselves thru the whole process)...times approximately 5 million species. You will find (if you read them) few (if any) physicists will absolutely deny the existence of a creator. When given a date (even 13 billion years) it also dispels the notion things have existed forever. You can't date forever.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • Colin

        Oh, bullsh.it. Learn eigth grade bilogoy and then re-post.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
        • VoteForPedro

          Learn 3rd grade grammar, then re-post.

          December 4, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • Sam

      Great piece. I bet you only skeptics will read it

      December 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • VoteForPedro

        So the world was born from 2 hydrogen atoms colliding? And where did these 2 hydrogen atoms come from? Do you know the odds of such a perfect collision? 0

        December 4, 2013 at 1:22 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Read "Atom" by Lawrence Krauss and get back to us.

          December 4, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Dave

      Very well said Colin... We all need to open our eyes and REALLY think with the brains we have. If their is a god, then i'm sure we would be held accountable for NOT using our brains and following blindly. Wouldn't we be upset with OUR own children if they just followed what everyone else was doing without thinking?

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

        Indeed. Only those selling junk cars want to convince you that it is immoral to look under the hood.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • lance corporal

          GREAT analogy, I'm gonna use that!

          December 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • wow

      Don't forget that God created EVERYTHING in the universe. Except gays.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • MG

      Wow. You nailed it.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Dave

      You nailed it. But, as Ortega y Gasset said, "If there were no God, man would make one." That's about what you concluded. Few have the strength to endure without having something to cling to.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • JJ

      Great post but it means nothing to people who believe in talking snakes, burning bushes does not get consumed and speaks, humans and dinosaurs living together and that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • VoteForPedro

        I had my snake in a burning bush last night. Felt pretty good.

        December 4, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • K

      You may well have been brought up Catholic but your parents never actually taught you any of the tenants of the faith, if your comments above are a reflection of your knowledge.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
      • Colin

        What did I get wrong?

        December 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • ojilereader

      If religion is what people need to cope with the drudgeries, difficulties and uncertainties of life, why rain on their parade? The issue I have is when people use religion to exploit or as an excuse for inaction or for passing judgment on others. Let me add, the more enlightened I become, the more clueless I realize I am. We will never really know the why behind our existence, even as we expire.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Karnak the Barbarian

      Man was the measure of all things for most of the ancient philosophers, poets, and bible authors. Experimentation, testing of knowledge and so on was not particularly emphasized and wide acceptance is a relatively modern phenomena.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  17. Respectyourself

    Really CNN? This is headline news?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Dave

      Especially the part about the Pope being dissed by Rush Limbaugh. Goodbye any chance for the Republican party if they lose women, minorities, gays and Catholics in one election. This is big news.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  18. Kent

    I get it. The man keeps it up and keeps acting like the Christ, I'm converting to Catholicism!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  19. golemmingsgo2013

    finly a pope with real world experince the more i read about him the more i like him

    December 3, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  20. winchester74

    Pope Francis has what it takes to kick the moneylenders out of the temple .....

    December 3, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      Catholic church is in fact the biggest moneylender.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
      • Mike

        And Pope Francis is the one to clean up the Vatican, Curia and the other crude that pollutes the Church.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:44 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.