In a meeting with youth this week, Pope Francis was asked what, as a child, he had desired to be when he grew up, to which he offered the surprising response that he had wanted to be a butcher.
On Thursday, Pope Francis granted a question-and-answer session to a large group of “Pueri Cantores,” or child singers, from eighteen different nations, who were gathered in Rome for their fortieth international convention. When asked what he had wanted to be when he grew up, Francis said, “If I tell you the truth, you are going to laugh.”
The Pope said that as a boy, he would often go to the market to do grocery shopping with his grandmother or mother. In those days, he said, there were no supermarkets and the market was on the street, where there were stalls for vegetables, fruit, meat, and fish.
One day, sitting around the dinner table at home, he was asked, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He replied that he wanted to be a butcher.
“Why? Because the butchers at the market—there were three or four stalls for meat—would takes their knives and cut the meat into pieces,” Francis said. “It’s an art, and I liked to watch them do it. I changed my mind, obviously, but in answer to your question, when I was little, I thought I would be a butcher. I would have liked that.”
Another child asked the Pope whether he liked to sing. “I like to hear other people sing,” Francis said, “but if I sing, I will sound like a donkey because I don’t know how to sing.”
“I also can’t speak very well because I have a speech defect, in my phonetics,” he added. “But I love to hear others sing.”
“I’ll tell you a story,” the Pope said. “When I was a boy—there were five children in my family—on Saturdays, our mom would have us sit in front of the radio. Do you know what we listened to? Every Saturday, they would broadcast an opera. And our mom would explain the opera to us.”
Another child asked Pope Francis whether he had made any New Year’s resolutions. He said that he had made only one: to pray more.
“Because I realized that bishops and priests—I am a bishop—have to govern the people of God especially through prayer. This is our first service.”
So in these past days, he said, “I thought that a good resolution for the New Year would be to pray a little more.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.