New Popemobile Is a 1984 Renault With 186,000 Miles on It


Pope Francis has impressed many since his election earlier this year with his humble and direct style. On election he quickly stressed his desire for "a poor church for the poor" and refused many of the trappings that went with being pope, preferring a simpler, less-ostentatious style. He continues to live in the Vatican Santa Marta guest house rather than in the papal apartments and has abandoned the use of limos and motorcades to be closer to the people.

Early in his papacy he went to inspect the Vatican car pool and has insisted on using a poorer more utilitarian car when he is travelling inside or on trips outside of the Vatican: a Ford Fiesta in Rome and a Fiat Idea on his first foreign trip to Brazil in July.

In July, Pope Francis told young priests and nuns that it pained him to see priests driving flashy cars, and said that having the latest model of smartphone or car was not the root of happiness.

"A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world," he said.

Teaching by example may be having its results. Rumors are circulating in the Vatican that some Vatican clerics have already cashed in their fancy BMW's for a more somber and cheaper model car.

Pope Francis left the Vatican on Tuesday in a compact Ford Focus and travelled to the Jesuit refugee center and soup kitchen in the center of Rome where he met with refugees.

A Roman in the crowd waiting to see the pope in the street commented, "I felt scared for him when I saw him. He just appeared out of the Ford Fiesta like a normal person with no escort or fanfare...we are used to seeing the last popes move about Rome with a motorcade, not like this."

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