Pope Francis has said he accepts the risk that he could be assassinated – but prays to God that he would not suffer if the terrifying scenario were to occur.
The leader of the Catholic Church admitted that he is scared of physical pain as he discussed the constant threat of an attempt on his life.
"I have said to the Lord: take care of me. But if your will is that I should die or that they do something to me, I ask you one favour: that they don't hurt me," he told Argentinian La Carcova News, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud.
"I'm a real scaredy cat when it comes to physical pain," the Pope said in the interview, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper, which is published in a Buenos Aires slum.
His candid comments were made in response to a question posed by Father Jose Maria "Pepe" di Paola about "fanatics who want to kill you"; the question was based on submissions from the residents of the slum, where Father Pepe serves as the local priest.
And it comes after the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See last year warned the Vatican that the Islamic State (Isis) is intent on killing the Pope.
Habeeb Al-Sadr, described the threats against the Pope as "credible".
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
According to Alver Metalli, who was the mastermind behind the so-called street newspaper, around 600 people submitted questions for the Pope, which Father Pepe put to him during their meeting in Rome on 7 February.
Other issues on the agenda included drug trafficking and the importance of faith.
In comments republished in the Vatican Insider, Francis said that "there are countries or regions that are totally controlled by drugs" and referred to a "triumphalism of traffickers". Argentina has been plagued by the effects of drug-related violence in recent years, with the methamphetamines trade seeing a particular increase.
But Francis urged people not to give up on God, describing faith as a "gift".
"I find it hurtful when I see children who don’t know how to make the sign of the cross," he said.
"It means the little one has not been given the most important thing a father and a mother can give their child: faith."Reuse content