Pope Francis shuns perks, pomp of new office
Jesuit prefers bus to pontifical car, pays own hotel bill15 March, 12:01
(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 14 - Pope Francis is shunning the perks and pomp of office like the saint he took his name from. He waved off the 'solemn' pontifical car laid on after he became pope Wednesday and insisted on going back to the cardinals' residence in a minibus with the former colleagues who had just elected him, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters Thursday. When he left his hotel Thursday morning, Lombardi added, 'He paid his bill to set a good example'.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known for living in a modest flat, using public transport and cooking his own meals.
Pope watchers have also noted Francis is not wearing a new golden papal cross around his neck, keeping his simple, small silver one, and has eschewed the dainty red shoes sported by his predecessor Benedict XVI.
Francis, who became the first non-European pope in 1,300 years after Benedict's shocking abdication last month, has said he chose his name to recall St Francis, the 13th-century former nobleman and founder of the Franciscan order who wore a simple cassock instead of the grand robes of other orders, living in poverty and tending to the poor.
The Vatican said that Francis will go to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo near Rome to see his predecessor, but a date has not been set. 'Francis will go to Castel Gandolfo, not tomorrow or the next day,' said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. 'As soon as it is planned we'll let you know'.
In his first full day as pope, Francis started by praying in the papal basilica of St Mary Major before a famous icon of the Virgin Mary called the Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People).
In addition to other cardinals and prelates in attendance, disgraced American Cardinal Bernard Law was there, the Vatican confirmed. 'Bernard Law entered very discreetly, he entered through one of the side chapels,' said spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. Law, the former archbishop of Boston, resigned in 2002 when unsealed court records revealed he had moved pedophile priests among church assignments without notifying parishioners.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed him archpriest of Saint Mary Major.
He resigned from the position after turning 80 in late 2011. 'As archpriest emeritus, he wanted to be there' when Francis came to pray, said Lombardi.
Lombardi also addressed a number of other reports surfacing in the media. 'I confirm that he had his lung operated on and had part of it removed many years ago,' he said in response to concerns over the 76-year-old pontiff's health. As a young man, Francis had an infection that required excising a large part of his lung.
'But everyone has always seen him in good health,' said Lombardi. 'Two of his colleagues from Argentina confirm that. I believe he was 21 when it happened'.
Lombardi went on to add a list of languages to Francis' already-full resume', which includes a degree in chemical engineering and experience as a professor of theology, philosophy, literature and psychology. 'Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English,' said the Vatican spokesman. 'Most probably Portuguese too, but if he doesn't already, I'm sure he'll learn some'.