Pope Francis says that when he was 42 he had sessions weekly with a psychoanalyst who was female and Jewish to "clarify some things." It wasn't specified what the future pontiff wanted to explore, the AP notes. The revelation came in a dozen conversations Francis had with French sociologist Dominique Wolton, who is writing a soon-to-be-published book called Pope Francis: Politics and Society, per the Guardian. Italian daily La Stampa quoted some of the conversations on Friday, noting Francis went to the analyst's home. He was quoted as saying: "One day, when she was about to die, she called me. Not to receive the sacraments, since she was Jewish, but for a spiritual dialogue." He added, "She was a good person. For six months she helped me a lot."
At the time of his psychoanalysis sessions, Francis was a Jesuit official in his native Argentina, which was then ruled by military dictatorship. Robert Mickens, the English-language editor of the Catholic daily La Croix, tells the Guardian that Francis has offered a thumbs-up in the past to the social sciences and their effect on human development, and that the Roman Catholic Church has slowly come around to the concept of psychotherapy since the '70s. For those wondering if Francis got the clarification he needed, the 80-year-old pontiff told Wolton he now feels free. "I'm in a cage at the Vatican, but not spiritually," he said. "Nothing frightens me." He also took aim at priests who are "rigid and afraid to communicate."