VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis prays every day for a sense of humor to help him as head of the Catholic Church, but beware of laughing at his jokes — he can’t abide flatterers.
“A sense of humor is a gift I ask for everyday. Because a sense of humor lifts you up, it shows your life is short and to take things in the spirit of a redeemer,” the pontiff says in a television interview with TV2000 set to air later Sunday.
“It’s a human attribute, but it’s the closest to God’s grace.”
The Argentine, 79, shot to international fame with his 2013 election but he has not let it go to his head, and is quick to deride attempts by the silver-tongued to befriend him.
“I am allergic to flatterers. I’m allergic. Because flattering someone is using them for your own gains, whether it’s hidden or not, but in any case to get something for yourself,” he said.
“We in Buenos Aires… call flatterers ‘sock-lickers,’ and the image really sums it up, someone licking someone else’s socks. It’s horrid to chew on someone else’s socks.”
Francis, who often labels himself a ‘sinner,’ said he struggles to ward off temptations like other people, confessing his personal weaknesses are “impatience, selfishness and a little bit of laziness.”
But he won’t mind if you criticize him: “My detractors speak ill of me, and I deserve it, because I am a sinner. That’s my opinion!”
Asked how a pope who hardly ever takes a day off finds the energy to carry on, he explains “I sleep six hours, but like a log. That helps.”