VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis finds the hype that is increasingly surrounding him "offensive," according to an interview published Wednesday, even as the Vatican itself is marking the anniversary of his election with commemorative stamps and coins and a DVD with never-before-seen footage of the pope.
Francis told Italian daily Corriere della Sera he doesn't appreciate the myth-making that has seen him depicted as a "Superpope" (as an Italian street artist recently painted him) who sneaks out at night to feed the poor (as Italian newspapers have suggested).
On Wednesday, he had to contend with a new bout of celebrity as My Pope hit Italian newsstands, a weekly gossip magazine devoted entirely to Francis. It is published by Mondadori, which is owned by ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's media empire. In addition, at his general audience, someone tried to give him a replica of an Oscar statue that said "Oscar Pope" on it.
"I don't like ideological interpretations, this type of mythology of Pope Francis," the pope told Corriere. "If I'm not mistaken, Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there's an aggression. Depicting the pope as a sort of Superman, a star, is offensive to me.
"The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person."
Francis marks his anniversary as pope March 13. For the occasion, the Vatican has issued new coins and stamps. The DVD will feature behind-the-scenes footage of the pope leaving the Sistine Chapel just after he was elected and praying in the nearby Paoline Chapel before he went out onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to greet the world with his famous "Buonasera."