Francis' one-liners keep Vatican on guard

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We have not had a pope in our lifetimes who speaks as off-the-cuff as Francis does. His openness is a most refreshing change for many, though requires his attempted handlers inside the Vatican to occasionally clarify his remarks. 

Here are a few of his recent one-liners from The Associated Press.

  • Francis urged the church to "strip" itself of its worldy attachment to wealth during his Oct. 4 trip to Assisi and urged Catholics to instead focus on the basics of Christ's teachings. "You might say, 'Can't we have a more human Christianity, without the cross, without Jesus, without stripping ourselves?' " he asked rhetorically. "In this way we'd become pastry-shop Christians, like a pretty cake and nice sweet things. Pretty, but not true Christians."
  • Francis was asked June 7 why he chose to live in the Vatican hotel rather than the fancier Apostolic Palace, where his predecessors lived. "If I was living alone, isolated, it wouldn't be good for me," he told students of Jesuit schools. "A professor asked me the same question, 'Why don't you go and live there (in the papal apartments)?' And I replied: 'Listen to me professor, it is for psychiatric reasons.' "
  • The pope has urged nuns and sisters to be like joyful mothers to the church, caring for its flock, and not act like they're "old maids." "It makes me sad when I find sisters who aren't joyful," he said during his Oct. 4 visit to a cloistered convent in Assisi. "They might smile, but with just a smile they could be flight attendants!"

Given Francis' sense of humor and willingness to ignore prepared speeches, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said he wants Catholics to know the difference between a pontifical joke and an encyclical, a clever quip in a homily and infallible teaching.

"There are different genres of expression, some are magisterial and official, others are more pastoral," Lombardi told The Associated Press. "They have a different doctrinal value."

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