The Pope's Nephew Says Francis Shelved Marriage and Med School, Never Wanted to Be Pope

Pope Francis Didn't Want to Be Pope; He Once Wanted Marriage and Med School
Pope Francis
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08/12/2015 AT 01:30 PM EDT

Even Pope Francis' mother had wanted her boy to be a doctor.

In a new, wide-ranging interview, Francis' nephew José Ignacio Bergoglio tells the Spanish newspaper ABC that before his uncle – the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio – became an Argentine priest, he was on the cusp of marriage and medical school, Aleteia reports.

"The truth is my uncle had told my grandmother that he's begun medical school," the younger Bergoglio says.

"One day, his mother, Regina, entered my uncle's room and much to her surprise she discovered he was taking a course to enter seminary. She found theology books in Latin. My grandmother said, 'Jorge, you lied to me.' To which he responded, 'No, Mamma, I am studying medicine … medicine for the soul.' "

The nephew also says the future pope was on the verge of telling his girlfriend he loved her when the church beckoned.

"One spring day he was supposed to go on a picnic with friends. That same day he was thinking of declaring his love to a girl he liked very much, but he passed in front of the Church of St. Joseph in the Flores quarter of Buenos Aires and changed his decision. He went into the church to pray, then he went to confession and spoke at length with a priest, and during this discussion he discovered that his true love was for God."

But not necessarily for the church's highest calling.

"On the night of his election he called my mother (his sister Maria Elena) and when she asked him, 'How are you?' he replied: 'Well, my plump one,' and then he added: 'I couldn't refuse.' "

"He didn't want to be pope," Bergoglio explained in the interview. "But when he was elected he had no choice: He had to accept. He knew it was God's plan."
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