Pope Francis has jokily played the humility card in an interview with a Portuguese Catholic radio station.
The pontiff, who is preparing to address huge crowds in Cuba and the United States, referred to his mass appeal in an interview with Portuguese Catholic radio station Radio Renascenca.
In an attempt to put things into perspective, the Pope deadpanned: “Jesus also, for a certain time, was very popular, and look at how that turned out.”
Pope Francis attempted to put his own popularity into perspective with his remarks
The 78-year-old told of how a priest comes to hear his own confession every 15 to 20 days but hastened to add: “And I never had to call an ambulance to take him back in shock over my sins!”
The Pope also expressed concern that Europe’s refugee crisis is “just the tip of the iceberg” and is fuelled by an "unjust" global economic system forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee war and poverty in search of better lives.
Francis reminded that the Bible requires that strangers be welcomed, though he acknowledged security precautions must be taken into account in today's world.
Jesus enjoyed huge popularity in the Bible before he was crucified
"It's true that 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Sicily, there is an exceedingly cruel terrorist guerrilla group, and it's true there's the danger of infiltration," he said, in an apparent reference to Islamic State extremists.
Francis repeated his call for parishes around the world to welcome in a migrant family, and said two refugee families have been identified to move into Vatican housing. They can stay "as long as the Lord wants," he said.
He applauded those European countries that had welcomed in migrants and warned what awaits those that don't: "On Judgment Day, we already know what we'll be judged on," he said, reciting the Biblical verse from Matthew 25: "When I was hungry, did you give me food?"
Those countries that answered "Yes"- "I congratulate them. They'll pass the test," he said.
In a separate radio interview with an Argentine evangelical Protestant, Francis lamented that he has felt "used" by people claiming to be his friend now that he is pope.
"I have never had so many `friends' in my life," he said on FM Milenium 106.7. "I have felt used by people who presented themselves as a friend and who I have maybe seen once or twice in my life, and they used this for their benefit."