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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. Lenny Pincus

    So you have a choice between a Nazi Youth who had to retire to avoid prosecution and a bar bouncer. Pretty simple.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bob B

      If anyone here is 'simple', it's you Lenny. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was only a young teenager when he was REQUIRED by law (being a 'law-abiding' citizen in America you would understand) to join Hitler's Youth Group and after turning 18 he was conscripted (as a patriotic American you can understand young men being drafted) into the German army, which, after a few months he deserted (that alone should make you respect him) and spent a few months as a German POW in an American POW camp. You would sound way less idiotic, if only you did a little research before being disrepectful towards anyone.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  2. Me

    Awesome Pope!!

    December 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Anna

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    ,.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  4. NelsonLeonard

    I find it funny that people make comments about the ridiculousness of other people's faith. I don't believe or understand facets of other people's faith beliefs but I do not post about that either. If they are happy and don't make a point of hurting others, why should it concern me? Those who make a point of hurling invectives against others' religions need to chill out. Sometimes I wonder what you problem is. Were you mistreated by somebody in that religion?. If so, get help because being so upset about Catholicism or Mormonism or Islam or whatever will shorten your lives.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • LILLIAN PORTER

      Actually, NelsonLeonard, the opposite is true according to a number of studies. Here's a couple::
      http://www.davidmyers.org/Brix?pageID=52
      http://longevity.about.com/od/longevityboosters/a/religion_life.htm
      However, it was generous of you to believe that religious freedom is OK

      December 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • NelsonLeonard

        Lillian, I think you misunderstand my post. I am familiar with these studies but thank you for citing them. Nothing in what I said indicates that I think religious beliefs shorten lives. I know from studies that it appears to lengthen life spans. What I was saying was that getting terribly upset about what other people believe is not understandable to me and this severe agitation some of these posts show will shorten lives as in raise blood pressure. I will change one part as I should have said "may shorten" lives. That last part was supposed to be a bit humorous but I guess it wasn't taken that way. As for generosity and freedom of religion, I am a big fan.of those.

        December 3, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  5. cpc65

    This gives me hope that within my lifetime I will hear a Pope utter the words, "I was a Mexican wrestler."

    December 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Dante

      I almost sh't myself reading this..Thank u good sir for thr deep laugh.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bob B

      Good for you having been a 'Mexican wrestler" – quoting Pope Francis: "Whom am I to judge"?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  6. children of Israel

    Revelation 19:13 and his name is called The Word of God. *St. Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. *St. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. *1st John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 28:15)

    December 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      And here in the 'mix and match' isle...

      December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • csbrownjr

      It looks more like a Chinese restaurant menu of bible passages. Take one from column A and two from column B.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  7. Michael

    If I went to a bar and saw this guy was the bouncer, I would not feel too safe if a fight were to break out.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mark

      He wasn't 76 when he was a bouncer.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard

      Maybe he know Karate or a similar means of defense?

      December 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • James

      Keep in mind that was in early-1960s Buenos Aires. It was a more genteel time of boîtes and café-concerts, and disturbances would usually be limited to a some night owl on a bender wailing about his faithless woman or some lady hysterical over seeing her man with another woman.

      A lot of Italians in Buenos AIres, you know.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  8. Deborah

    HE HAD TWO JOBS. A bouncer and a laundry person. People have to work!!! People forget the "Pope" is still a person!!! And a good one it seems.....

    December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Pete/Ark

      I can see it now ...a totally wasted Limbaugh annoying the bar patrons ...over comes the Pope (accompanied by Sam Elliott) and boots him out into the street .... ^o^ .

      December 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Evelyn Connaway

        Now that is sight I would like to see!

        December 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  9. jj

    now only if he was black

    December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  10. cpc65

    I smell an SNL skit coming up.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • TheThinker

      Ya, SNL skits have all smelled since Mr Bill left. 🙂

      December 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  11. religious & dumb

    Americans are religious & dumb and bankrupt.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Without exception?

      December 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Me

      Get a life.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • TheThinker

      Thank you for all of the truly inspiring thought you have brought to this discussion... said nobody to you. 🙂

      Story: Pope Francis was once a bouncer
      Non Sequitur: Americans are dumb

      LOL.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  12. kathy

    Have not been a practicing member of the Catholic church for over 25yrs.....for all the reasons we've seen in the last couple centuries. This pope is definitely getting my attention. He is fresh and sensible realizing that reforms are LONG overdue in this church. I think he could actually rejuvenate catholicism and not only bring people back but help all mankind see what's important in this life. He is a refreshing change to the gold wearing stern, intolerant demigods that have sat on St. Peters throne for centuries. He even got rid of the gold throne and uses a wooden one.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  13. RoadHouse

    I am a bar bouncer and not Catholic, and even I like this Pope.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  14. termlimits

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virture is the equal sharing of misery. Churchill.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bob Bobson

      Britain is a socialist country.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
      • Bob Bobson

        Churchill oversaw the creation of Britain's national health service (socialized medicine).

        December 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • lucifer

      Your point?

      December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Me

      Churchill suffered from depression.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Bob Bobson

        Churchill wore pants.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Walter

      I guess when you grow up in a huge palace as the son of a duke (just not the first son) you tend to think "socialism" is bad. However, the social democratic countries of Europe or even Canada meet more of their citizens needs more of the time whilel the US sells the dream of opportunity while it is one of the least upwardly socially mobile countries in the world.
      However, that said, the Pope is not preaching socialism but gospel based Christianity. Not the socially conservative, servant of feel good capitalism that is so prevalent in the U. S.
      And let's look at it this way, if that mysoginist, drug addicted coward, Rush Limbaugh thinks what the Pope is doing is socialism, then the Pope must be doing something right.
      Stop drinking the Kool Aid.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  15. Mark

    I have no problem believeing that this Pope means well and intends on doing good....not sure some of his positions are that of the Gospel. Thats where he and I diverge. You can point out the sin without being judgmental, you can love the sinner but you cannot agree with societal changes in ordr to be popular with culture....just to get people in church. Thats a very bad and false way of leading

    December 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Madtown

      The Gospel was written by very fallible human beings. Why give it ultimate authority?

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

        Because it was given by inspiration of God and thus has ultimate authority.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Madtown

          And you know this how? Because you were told?! Oh. Tell us again what your best guess is as to why God inspired these writings, and chose not to inspire other people in different cultures all around the world, so everyone would have the same message? Why only the small subset in the Middle East?

          December 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • StormySyndrome

          Was it really?? Not one soul in that bible was around at any given time when any of the cannons were being written. Not one of the cannons were named what they're currently named in the bible and not one soul that those cannons are attributed to was around to write those cannons. This makes the entire religion nothing but hearsay.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • kathy

          I doubt the Gospel is even close to what was actually spoken or written in the time of Christ and his apostles. Through their 'own' interpretation and countless translations over the centuries I don't believe it's quite 'the word of God' as the church has asked us to believe all this time.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          Why should anyone assume that YOU know more than they do?
          You are a self-important windbag with a preacher complex.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Topher

          All books were written either by an eyewitness or someone who was specifically taught by an eyewitness. Not hundreds of years later as some atheists claim. We know the Bible we have now matches the same as those the early church had because of the number of manuscripts we have. Also, translations aren't problems at all. For instance, it's not like we translate from a translation. We translate from the original language. Second, because we have those manuscripts, we can actually read the books in their original language.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          oh Topher, that's not even CLOSE to the truth! are you lying or delusional?

          December 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • Rick

          In theory, the Pope is also inspired by God and is God's representative on earth so if the Pope thinks society needs to change, then he is within his mandate to speak about it.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • StormySyndrome

          So, your saying God showed up 70 to 100 years after Jesus was crucified and provided inspiration?? You do know that folks didn't live very long back then right? 70 years after Jesus would have put all of the disciples at no less than possibly 90. That would have made HUGE news at the time and would have been recorded by one of the many scribes.....Nope. In fact, none of the disciples are found anywhere in history at the time the cannons were being written. Then of course, you have the entire Crucifixion thing. One would think that as well known as Jesus was....since he did have followers coming from far and wide to see him.... there would be a blotter, or even the slightest mention of Jesus....somewhere...... NOPE...not even an upstart scribe knew this man. Face it...the old testament is more of a history book of the world as man understood it through the ages. It had stories from the greek, romans, druids. In reality, the bible serves as a better ethical guide to life than an attempt at getting people to believe in a hearsay Godand his son. A historical compilation of man, his understanding of himself as far as what was right and wrong....and a means to control the masses. The oldest form of government.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • Topher

          StormySyndrome

          "So, your saying God showed up 70 to 100 years after Jesus was crucified and provided inspiration??"

          After Christ's ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to us. And it was through Him that the books were written. And just to be clear, the latest book (last one written) was 94-96 AD (Revelation). So that's at most 60 years after Jesus' death. Remember, AD stands for Anno Domini (in the year of the Lord) not "after death."

          "You do know that folks didn't live very long back then right? 70 years after Jesus would have put all of the disciples at no less than possibly 90."

          Most didn't make it that long. They were almost all killed. But John seems to be the last survivor. Polycarp testified that John was quite old when he penned it.

          "That would have made HUGE news at the time and would have been recorded by one of the many scribes.....Nope. In fact, none of the disciples are found anywhere in history at the time the cannons were being written."

          Not sure what you mean. Matthew and John were of the 12. Mark ran with the group. Luke is considered the greatest historian of antiquity even by secular historians. Peter wrote several books. James and Jude were Christ's brothers ....

          "Then of course, you have the entire Crucifixion thing. One would think that as well known as Jesus was....since he did have followers coming from far and wide to see him.... there would be a blotter, or even the slightest mention of Jesus....somewhere...... NOPE...not even an upstart scribe knew this man."

          There is a minimum of 12 secular writers who mention Jesus. And I've heard up to 20, though I'm not sure who those others are.

          "Face it...the old testament is more of a history book of the world as man understood it through the ages."

          True, the entire Bible is full of history. In fact, no other book has been as historically vetted as the Bible. And not one single point has been found to be false.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • Fug Xu

        And with so many translations, something was bound to get screwed up.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Topher

          Well, there are some translation issues. Even spelling issues. But we know about them and none of them corrupt the Gospel.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • pbernasc

      yes telling crap that has nothing to do with Christianity (like hating gays) is a lot better

      December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • StormySyndrome

      That's the basic concept behind religion. It's about controlling a people and changing with the times, adding to and from the bible and swearing it has always been there....just in different words. I absolutely love the bible! It's written the way i like to write, in ways that can be read into and taken a billion different ways at any given time in history. When it doesn't exactly line up....some pope changes it to his own view.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • kenny

      either you live by every rule in the book or none... you don't get to pick and choose which ones "fit the times" ... oh and feel free to wrap your head around all of its contradictions... you also don't get to make YOUR god's laws mans... but i gather you are too ignorant to understand that concept.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • Topher

        Mmmm ... yes and no. There are actually things in the Bible that were only for a certain people at a certain time. So those wouldn't apply to us today. And you also have to remember we're under a new covenant, some a lot of the old covenant stuff is out.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Me

      Being a bouncer doesn't necessarily entail m-u-r-d-e-r-i-n-g somebody.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  16. StormySyndrome

    I wonder if he'd have turned the other cheek if it came time to throw someone out, or throw down?? 🙂 I bet he didn't and he probably beat some people pretty badly. Just his teachings say all that needs to be said.....Literature and Psychology. The two subjects great for controlling a people.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  17. children of Israel

    The Roman idolatry church survived because they changed with the times! *Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. *Daniel 2:21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: *Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowlegdge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • lucifer

      Just like your germanic tree worshipping religion

      December 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Me

      Get a life.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  18. Damiana

    I think he is doing really good. He is right, it's better to have a church that is bruised and dirty from the streets than unhealthy and unwise, clinging to insecurities. It really is the "How can you understand it if you put blinders on to it?" thing...

    December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  19. I M Notsurprised

    I love this guy!!!!

    December 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Sarah

      ii kinda like this guy. it's more civilized than the last pope. the last pope was an idiot!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Bob B

        Pope Francis would not agree with, or like your opinion about his predecessor. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a scholar – professiorial type and was far from being an idot – something I suspect you are for making such a dumb statement. Each man has his own charisma. I wish good health and many more years in retirement to the former Pontiff and a long, healthy life to Pope Francis.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:49 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.