Pessimistic Pope Francis compares his popularity to Jesus and says 'look how that turned out'

The Pontiff also said he felt 'used' by people pretending to be close to him

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Pope Francis has revealed a somewhat pessimistic view on his global popularity by comparing it to the attention Jesus enjoyed in the Bible before he was crucified.

The Pontiff has endeared himself to thousands across the world with his modesty and openness by eschewing perks his predecessors have enjoyed and meeting personally with followers.

His more progressive views on same-sex marriage, divorce, abortion and other contentious issues have also made him an increasingly popular figure. Pope Francis drew a record six million people during a visit to the Philippines in June, while a million people travelled to greet him in Guayaquil, in Ecuador, in July.



But when he asked what he thought about his popularity during a telephone interview with Portugal’s Radio Renascenca, Francis replied: “Jesus also, for a certain time, was very popular, and look at how that turned out.”

The Pontiff was also cynical about the hordes of new "friends" who appeared after he was chosen to lead the Catholic Church and said he felt “used” by those who had falsely claimed to be close to him.

“Friendship is something very sacred,” he told the Argentine radio station FM Milenium. “But the utilitarian sense of friendship — to see what I can get out of being close to this person and making myself his friend — this pains me.

“I have felt used by some people who have presented themselves as ‘friends’ whom I may not have seen more than once or twice in my lifetime, and they used this for their own gain. But this is an experience which we have all undergone: utilitarian friendship.”