What Kind of Car Did Pope Francis Buy?

Daniel Doherty

7/16/2013 2:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

He bought a Ford Focus. Not exactly the most expensive or luxurious automobile out there on the market place, to say the least. Via HuffPo:

Now here's a Pope who practices what he preaches.

Pope Francis arrived at the papal summer home, Castel Gandolfo, in a humble Ford Focus which was a far cry from the luxury cars of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who travelled around town in vehicles that included a custom-made Renault, a BMW X5, and a Mercedes.

In contrast, Pope Francis isn't even spending the summer in the luxurious retreat of Castel Gandolfo, preferring more modest accommodations in Rome.

The down-to-earth Pope called for greater austerity from religious figures last week, saying, “It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. 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." The Ford Focus is a compact car with a starting sticker price of just about $16,000.

A priest in Colombia answered the Pope's call to humility just last week, saying that he planned to sell his white Mercedes-Benz E200 convertible, which was given to him as a gift from his four brothers.

You must be asking, of course, why on earth does this even matter? Well, it matters a lot to me for several reasons. As a Catholic, one of the quibbles I’ve heard from ex-parishioners in my hometown is that leaders live further and further apart from those they purport to serve. In other words, they encourage humility, almsgiving and modesty among the faithful but they themselves live in luxury. Over the years, I’m sure there are many reasons why American Catholics have left the Church (I can think of a few rather obvious examples), but one is most assuredly because Catholic leaders have struggled with authenticity. Pope Francis doesn’t suffer from this problem, and thus is evangelizing and bringing the Gospel to generations of young people in remarkable and unexpected new ways. I respect him immensely for his sincerity and humility. Could the College of Cardinals have settled on a better choice?

The very reason Jorge Bergoglio chose ‘Francis’ as his papal name was because he wanted “a church of the poor, for the poor.” Today he is living out that vision. And as a consequence, I suspect the crowds at the World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro later this month will be as big and celebratory as ever.