In the seven short months since he became head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has provided more than his share of surprises.
He said the Catholic Church shouldn’t obsess so much over gay marriage and gay rights. He turned down the chauffer-driven, glass-topped Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV “pope mobile” that is one of the perks of his job, preferring to drive himself around in a used Renault with 190,000 miles on it.
And last week, he released a provocative mission statement entitled “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) that slammed late capitalism.
“In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits,” he writes in the statement, known officially as an apostolic exhortation. “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”
But nothing Pope Francis has said or done so far could have prepared us for his latest admission: He used to be a nightclub bouncer.
On a visit to the church of San Cirillo Alessandrino, located in a working-class neighborhood near Rome, on Sunday, the Pope chatted with parishioners and let slip that, as a young lad, he worked as a bouncer for a club in Buenos Aires.
While he no doubt picked up some persuasion skills on that job, he told the parishioners that it was his later work teaching literature and psychology that showed him how to get people back into the church.
Pope Francis said he follows a strategy used by St. Peter: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”