Pope Francis has said he is very scared of physical pain and wants God to spare him that in the event of an assassination attempt.
He said: "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 said. "Because I'm a real wimp when it comes to physical pain".
If fanatics want to kill him, it is “God’s will”, he said: “Life is in God’s hands.
Francis spoke during an interview with the Buenos Aires favela news magazine La Carcova News, after inhabitants of the desperately poor slum area Villa La Carcova came up with the questions in a collective neighbourhood effort.
Parish priest José Maria Di Paola or Fr Pepe, known as “the spiritual son of Francis”, posed the questions.
Concerns about Pope Francis' security have been circulating since he took office. He has been described as "in the crosshairs" of Islamic State terrorists who have sworn to conquer Rome.
During his trip to the Philippines last January South-east Asian Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah were said to have hatched a bomb plot, although this was denied by the Vatican.
Former Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas told the country’s Senate that the Philippines National Police had received information about a planned strike on the papal convoy.
A silent war waged by Francis on the mafia has led Italian prosecutors to fear of a possible strike at home.
During the interview Francis told the newspaper that “in principle” he would visit Argentina in 2016.
It also tackled many of the day-to-day issues affecting those living in the favela. Francis was careful to condemn drug traffickers who are “triumphant because they feel that they have won”.
He also spoke to the anxieties of parents in the township. After one question expressing concerns that today’s children “often live virtual relationships” he explained that the real “danger” is that children today have the capacity to gather information, but will be transformed into “young museums”, who do not know what to do with what they know, he said.
Above: Francis seen here holds up a football shirt and note he received from a young person while visiting a Rome parish on Sunday. Photo: CNS