VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said on Thursday that guardian angels exist and people who listen to their advice are less likely to make the wrong decisions.
"The doctrine on angels is not fantasist. No, it's reality," the pope said during his daily mass in the small chapel in his residence at the Vatican.
"According to Church tradition we all have an angel with us, who protects us and helps us understand things," he said in a message to mark the feast of the guardian angels, celebrated by Catholics on October 2.
The up-beat message that humans are helped along in life by an otherworldly guardian was in stark contrast to former pope Benedict's insistence in 2012 that angels did not sing at the birth of Christ -- news that devastated many a carol singer and earned him the epithet "killjoy pope".
Francis asked "how often have we heard 'I should do this, I should not do this, that's not right, be careful ...'. So often! It is the voice of our travelling companion."
The pope advised sceptics to ask themselves "how is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him? Do I ask him to watch over me when I sleep?
"No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone," he said.