Ahead of his highly anticipated first visit to the U.S., Pope Francis opened up about a more personal issue during a radio interview, saying he has felt "used" by the "quote-unquote friends" he has made since he was named pontiff.
While speaking with Argentine radio station Milenium, the pope discussed his disappointment in those who disregard the sanctity of friendship and claim to be his friend for selfish reasons.
"Friendship is something sacred. The Bible says to have one or two friends," he said in the telephone interview that was broadcast Sunday. The interview was conducted by Argentine journalist Marcelo Gallardo, a personal friend who has known the pope since his days as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, before his papacy began in March 2013.
"Friendship in the utilitarian sense -- let's see what advantage I can gain by getting close to this person and becoming friends -- that pains me," he told the radio station.
"I have felt used by people who presented themselves as my friends and whom I hadn't seen more than once or twice in my life. They have used that to their own benefit. But it's an experience we all go through," he said.
Besides the abuse of friendship, Francis denounced mankind's "abuse of creation," referring to God's creations, and underlined the dangers of disrespecting the environment. This echoes his encyclical issued in June, calling for people to take better care of the planet.
"We're not friends of creation. Sometimes we treat it like our worst enemy. Think of deforestation, misuse of water, methods of extracting minerals with elements like arsenic and cyanide that end up making people sick," he said.
Francis also spoke of religious fundamentalists, whose goal, he said, is to "destroy in the name of an idea, not a reality. ... They kill, attack, destroy, malign in the name of an ideological god."
This interview comes just before the pope is scheduled to visit the U.S. for the first time on Sept. 24.