December 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. Mort

    I'm a looney atheist that spends all day trying to convince random people that Jesus is an exact copy of Mithra, but even I like this pope.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Fug Xu

      What's not to like about a pragmatic guy who is trying to curb elitism whilst bringing some sanity back to the human race? Just the fact that Rush Limbaugh went on a tirade about him scores the Pope some major points. If Rush is p'd off at you, you must be doing something right.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • kenny

      it's hard not to like someone that lives by great examples and encourages others to do the same... even if they're based on fantasy

      December 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  2. sly

    Yawn ... another far right Conservative with a spotty past (used to support the death squadders in Argentina).

    I hope y'all fall as much in love with this guy as you do with that Jesus' fella – the more of you in Church on Sunday the less folks on my golf course.

    Hey – you guys are free to your opinions, but please don't push the God-stuff on the rest of us. Might mess up my tee shot.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • didi

      well well what arrogance?? catholic or not you are pompous creature as they say lord works in mysterious way so be carefull arrogance never pays off

      December 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • Hazardous

        And neither does threatening other people with your religion. If you really were a Christian, you would be ashamed of what you just said.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  3. rl

    I'm not Catholic, but Pope Francis impresses me more every day.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  4. Shawn

    Can't wait to see the political cartoons about this one.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  5. Nick

    This is hot - I think he has something that everyone can learn from. Deep down what is happiness. I agree a stronger religion.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  6. Jesus' Beloved

    A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall ALL men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. John 13:34-35

    Why is it so hard for us to love other people? – Could it be this simple- we can't give what we don't have?

    Jesus LOVES every single one of us UNCONDITIONALLY. Even the ones who deny his existence.
    He is just that awesome!

    December 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • ima atheist

      haters going to hate

      December 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        In the end, LOVE always trumps hate. 🙂

        Stay Blessed

        December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • I M Notsurprised

          It often takes decades and centuries for love to eventually win out.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          That may be true, but it doesn't change the ending. 🙂

          Let there be no doubt, we're fast approaching the last days – so let's redeem the time, because the days are evil. (They're evil because the devil knows the time is near)

          December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  7. DaddyR69

    Forget about Ali's Rope a Dope, this guy's a POPE A DOPE

    December 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  8. TomGI

    This pope must have a supercharged PR firm. A new story every day.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  9. The hateful truth

    Anyone else notice the double-chins of Pope Francis above the headlines on this article?

    Anyone else think of the millions of starving children in the world and how much he must love them?

    December 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Did you ever stop to think, Double Chin could be due to His Age? Or are you another Troll?

      December 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Cutie & the Bootie!

        So eating more than enough is considered "old age"? What about skinny old men? Faster metabolisms?
        Gimme a break!

        December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • walter white

      How many of the worlds starving are you currently helping? And 30 cents a day to a infomercial charity that gives you a picture to make you feel accomplished does not count. Im not Catholic,but i was a bouncer,he is ok in my book. And yes being ok in my book means something. As for your reply if any i can give 0 f@$ks in trade.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  10. noly972

    I like this Pope. He's humane and humble.
    And, if he bothers Rush, that's another point in his favor.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Alibaster Skin

      A humble billionaire who humanely advises HIV black citizens in Africa not to use condoms.

      Sounds about right!

      December 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
      • Sam

        He's not a billionaire if you noticed, he's gotten rid of alot of the gaudy things in the Church. The Church has treasure from generations passed. The Church is THE most charitable organization on the planet for aid. Stats don't lie.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |


    December 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • unowhoitsme

      Let's see...he washed the feet of prisoners, fed the poor, touched a leper...sounds like Jesus is back walking the earth!!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  12. johnny

    This is a story without equal. From bar bouncer to the Pope of the Catholic Church. I'm not Catholic, but I'd like to shake this guy's hand one day. No Hollywood screenwriter could have dreamed up this scenario!

    December 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      yes but the Vatican's PR company certainly did dream up this scenario.

      he is being handled like a politician in an election campaign.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Alibaster Skin

      lol this isn't an intricately woven story. It's a pope who used to be a "bouncer" for nightclubs back in the 1960s, whatever that really means.

      You, sir, are a first class goober.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • JoeSeattle

      Boy are you gullible.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Colin

    There was a sign on the door of the bar "Troublemakers Will Be Forgiven."

    December 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  14. Snow

    I like this pope.. he got a lot of people interested (again) in not being too selfish and to think about people -poor and needy.

    Now is the time to show some action to go along with his words. At the end, actions speak louder than words and being in a position like the pope, his actions speak loudest. I hope he can follow through.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  15. James Mulhern

    I like this pope. What a refreshing change to see the authentic teachings of Jesus demonstrated in his words and actions. I think that Pope Francis is revitalizing the Catholic Church, giving lapsed Catholics, who left the Church because they were disenchanted by its hierarchical structure and penchant for lavishness, a reason to return.

    James Mulhern, http://www.synthesizingeducation.net

    December 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  16. nreal

    i am a muslim but i like this guy a lot

    December 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Ved

      A great person makes people come closer in spite of their differences.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Brian

      Why does being Muslim apparently predispose you to dislike him?

      December 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • Colin

        You REALLY have to ask?

        December 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Brian

          Yes. I do. Being Muslim doesn't mean "I hate all other people". That position is only taken by the most extreme of the religion.... and I would challenge folks to find a single "major religion" that doesn't have its own extremists who think "non-believers" should be "disliked".

          December 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Whitney Houston

          Uh oh. Colin is going to start copying and pasting some of his atheist packaged responses.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • Brian

          I'm athiest as well so I would be interested in hearing them.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Red727

          I'm Baptist and I feel the same way. So, I get what he's saying. Don't read into it. Appreciate the fact that this Pope is opening doors and eyes of people who ordinarily wouldn't.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Red727

          I'm Baptist and I feel the same way. So, I get what he's saying. Don't read into it. Appreciate the fact that this Pope is opening doors and eyes of people who ordinarily wouldn't.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Brian

          Oh... I do absolutely appreciate it. I've been impressed with the new Pope.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • Adam Morgan

        Pretty sure that wasn't his purpose. Merely to say that he isn't Catholic. Just happened that he was Muslim. Would be no different that someone saying "I'm Methodist, but I like this guy a lot." He is a good man doing sincere and honest good and that is something anyone, of any faith or creed can respect and believe in regardless of differences.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Brian

          Fair enough. I could have easily read that differently than it was truly intended.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
        • NelsonLeonard

          Way to go Brian! You set a good example for some of the commentators. If you see you may have misunderstood, then admit it. Watch it, Brian, if this keeps up these comment boards may actually become civil. I can always hope. LOL

          December 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Nikki

      II'm not catholic or muslim, but I like him better than most of the popes in my lifetime. No wonder he's shaking up the church; good for him. It needed it.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Brandon

    A Christian leader that acts like Jesus. This is new.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      he acts a lot like that other storybook character Harry Potter too.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • JaneMaine

        Wow. Was that really necessary? Do you feel better about yourself now? I may not believe in certain beliefs (or lack of beliefs) that people share but I was raised to show some respect.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • The hateful truth

          Were you raised to respect Satanists too?

          December 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • NelsonLeonard

          The Hateful Truth: To answer your question as it might apply to me, yes, even growing up in a Catholic household I was raised to respect everyone, even Satanists, as long they (or any other faith follower for that matter) did not go out to hurt others. (My parents ( my Irish mother especially since she had the most to do with us) instilled respect for others in their kids.) If I knew one of my coworkers was a Satanist, I would try not to treat them any differently. Personally, I would find it hard to be a Satanist because it must be a depressing way to look at the world. It can be depressing enough without thinking the Devil is in charge of everything. LOL

          December 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • BS

      What a bunch of crap so if god is real he would let a guy who beat drunk people up be leader of the Catholics give me a break drinking is a sin so working in a bar is a sin kicking drunk peoples ass is a sin .where does it say in the bible jesus beats up drunks

      December 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • Source

        Hey, I'm no Bible scholar, but didn't Jesus beat the moneychangers out of the temple?

        December 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • karen

        Where does it say drinking or working in a bar is a sin? I'm a very devout Catholic, and also a bartender....

        December 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
      • Skeeter

        Where does it say drinking is a sin? If it is, then Jesus changing water to wine was somewhat of a faux-pas, yes? And where does it say he ever kicked anyone's behind?

        December 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  18. notacatholic

    He's going to build a stronger, better church.
    And faster, maybe.

    Pope Steve.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  19. Phil in KC

    It's kind of funny to look at him today. You usually think of bouncers and big, burly guys. He must have been tough. Of course, it takes a different kind of toughness to take on all the issues he has tackled since becoming Pope.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  20. jim

    Instead of asking people to send money to the Philippines, he asked them to pray for them. Great way to not help!

    December 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Ved

      It's not his job to raise money.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Junie

      You don't think the RCC sent much aid to the Phillipines? Get real.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Joe

      Nice try; that's a patent lie. Not only did Caritas collect millions after his plea for help to the Philippines, but he personally sent $150,000 from the Vatican's proprietary accounts.

      If some of that money was "misappropriated" in the Philippines itself, it was certainly not his fault.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Me

      He sent $150,000, quit whining! Wondering how much you sent.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • jjajaja

      please think and read before you judge? idiot.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • letsdoit

      How much did you send to help?

      December 3, 2013 at 5:02 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.