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High prelates trade luxury cars for economy vehicles

Following Pope Francis' example of sobriety

24 October, 20:05
High prelates trade luxury cars for economy vehicles (ANSA) - Vatican City, October 24 - Pope Francis' call for the Church to be poor and for the poor is producing the first effects at the Vatican. After a number of bishops and high prelates replaced their golden crosses with more sober silver or metal ones - the pontiff himself wears a cross made of iron - the attention has turned to cars.

Some 20 prelates and monsigneurs have traded the luxury cars so far used to get around for more modest utility cars.

The pope declared war on luxury cars in July when he said that ''it bothers me when I see a priest or a sister with a brand new car''.

The pontiff was the first to set the example, refusing the Mercedes used by his predecessor Benedict XVI and opting instead of a Volkswagen Phateon and more recently for an old Ford Focus.

He has also used a variety of economy cars during his travels including a Fiat Panda and an old Fiat Campagnola.

On Wednesday the pontiff, who has declined to live in the opulent papal residence, suspended German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst, dubbed by the international media as "the bishop of bling", over his free spending. The bishop is accused of having spent 31 million euros to remodel his residence next to the cathedral.