Pope Francis inspected Vatican parking, checked what cars are driven

From Corriere della sera comes something straight from a Fellini movie (my translation).

I am not making this up.

Inspection – The Pope declared war on the Vatican’s luxury cars.  First, he attacked wastefulness, underscoring that “it bothers me when I see a priest or a sister with a brand new car”.  Then, a few days later, he put into practice what he had stated during a meeting with seminarians: on Wednesday he made an inspection of the Vatican parking lot.  It isn’t the first time – already in the past days Pope Francis, on his way to lunch with a cardinal friend, visited the place where some cardinals usually park their cars.


The Pope is checking out what cars Vatican employees and cardinals are driving.  Really?

This whole topic is a phenomenal waste of time.  I post on it because, mark my words, people who can barely scrape three brain cells together, are going to latch onto the vague moralism of “think of the poor” when looking at the local priest’s car.  There are some people who think that if the priest isn’t licking up water from puddles on the sidewalk and rubbing gravel through his hair, he is a bad priest who doesn’t care enough about las ovejas pobres.

Look.  We need to make distinctions about a “good” car and a “luxury” car.  We need to consider the prudent use of money as well.   Is it a better use of money to buy a car that is old and used, newer and used, new?  It depends on the car and how it is used, its safety features and record, its fuel efficiency and repair record.  It depends on the price of the car and the price of the money (financing).  If the same money will buy a new good car or a used car, are you obliged to buy the used car?  Does fuel efficiency figure in?  Is this only about cars that look “sporty”?  Is this about leather seats?  Is this about what other people in the area drive? Priests often put a lot of miles on a car.  It seems to me that priests are better off in a good car.  Therefore, the flock is better off if the priest has a good car.

In the meantime, I understand that there is a run on old Fiats right now by Vatican employees and officials.


I am deeply concerned about the cost of the Holy Father’s “PopeMobile”.

It bothers me to see Popes riding in vehicles that cost upwards of $528K.  That’s right: over half a million dollars.  Think of the poor!

If only there were a less expensive alternative.

If only there were a way to make sure that people could see the Holy Father as he moves from point A to point B and not take food from the mouths of poor children.

What could it be?


See also:

Wherein Fr. Z offers advice to priests about vehicles.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Shane says:

    I seem to remember a story of Hans Kung, in his early days of selling out, buying a sports car during his stint as a peritus at Vatican II and flaunting it around Rome.

    So when Pope Francis makes mention of things like this, my mind drifts towards that sort of egregious behavior.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    On the one hand, I agree with you. OTOH, it probably is informative for the Pope to find out if anybody connected with Vatican Bank stuff is a bureaucrat from a non-rich with a mysterious late-model Ferrari that he didn’t rebuild from a shell.

    On the gripping hand, though… a little Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt may be part of the Pope’s fixer strategy. Maybe he thinks it’s time to encourage folks with guilty consciences to resign before he has to boot them out.

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “non-rich family background.” And known for his low salary and not particularly good investments.

  4. Johnno says:

    Next he’ll inspect their shoe closets…

    His Holiness should be more concerned with the colossol waste of money that is the CCHD and how the Church gives millions upon millions of dollars to organizations that help the poor buy condoms, contraceptives, sex change operations, pro-homosexual education pamphlets and procure abortions.

    What aobut that waste of money? If the Church can cut that out, I’ll happily pitch in a couple hundred dollars so that Father can buy a new military grade vehicle to get around. Israeli, of course!

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The sad thing is, the pope may have just been trying to get some face time with whoever runs the parking lots (especially since parking in tiny Vatican City apparently been a big issue in the past), and the reporters and rumor mills may have totally misinterpreted the thing. Or heck, he could have just been stretching his legs.

    OTOH, given that Argentina has such a messed up food situation right now due to government stupidity, it might make his temper sharp about money stuff.

  6. Sword40 says:

    I can see our priest stranded on the freeway with a broken down car, while trying to get to his next Mass. This thing can be taken to extremes.
    I can count at least four brain cells.

  7. Pingback: Don't Park Your Porsche in the Vatican Parking Lot | Acton PowerBlog

  8. anilwang says:


    Part of what the Pope is saying has to do with culture shock. In Latin America, used cars are the norm and its not uncommon to find some truly ancient cars still in use because labour is cheaper than goods.

    Two examples illustrate this. When one of my relatives, who is a mechanic, came to Canada from Uruguay (next to the Pope’s native Argentina), he was asked to change an engine. He did so and then started disassembling the engine to retrieve all the crews and valuable parts of the engine. His new boss exploded since he didn’t pay someone a high salary to spend hours scavenging parts that could be bought for a tenth his hourly salary. Another more verifiable example is from Mexico. The last Vocho taxis (using the original Volkswagen Beetle) were retired a half a year ago ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Beetle#Mexico ) and they were only retired because the Beetle didn’t meet modern emissions standards.

    It will take him a while to figure out that Europe and non-Latin North America have different economics constraints (see above) and other constraints (e.g. its possible for priests to use bikes in warmer climates, but not in more frigid snowy areas). It will also take him some time to realized that not all religious orders have the calling of the Franciscans and to treat them as such harms the Catholic Patrimony.

  9. *sigh*
    On the one hand, I can see his point about luxury cars. [Which is why we have to make distinctions about “good” and “luxury”.]

    On another hand, as you say, this can be taken to extremes. I am reminded of those who would criticize a priest in the northern Midwest who owned a (rather modest) 4-wheel-drive SUV, despite the fact that he not infrequently had had to drive through blizzard conditions in order to administer the last rites and therefore was patently the sort of priest who needed such a vehicle, rather than the miniature Toyota or Honda which certain…people…no doubt would have preferred him to drive.

  10. babochka69 says:

    My pastor asked me just a few weeks ago if he thought it would be ok if he were to drive a used Lexus because he had been offered one. I told him I didn’t see any problem with it at all. Everybody in our parish knows we can’t make ends meet, and it isn’t because of the car our priest drives. I guess I should re-think that answer.

  11. JPManning says:

    I think some friends close to the Pope should explain to him the concept of ‘false economy’.
    Francis should also beware of the environmental angle, new cars are much friendlier to the planet in terms of CO2 emissions. The headline, “Francis encourages priests to increase greenhouse gas output” wouldn’t look that good.

  12. wmeyer says:

    I agree it is a waste of time. And his use of a 20 year old Fiat in lieu of a Mercedes which affords him real protection and which was donated to the Vatican is annoying. Frankly, it smacks of the Kabuki theatre we normally see inside the Beltway.

    The time spent on such gestures (which in the end are almost certain to be of no real value) would be far better invested in a number of other issues:
    – gay lobby in the Curia
    – fixing or disbanding the LCWR
    – reinforcing to the USCCB the essential nature of the Latin Mass, and ensuring it is widely available
    …I could go on, but so could we all.

  13. Priam1184 says:

    Fine. He is the Head of State of the Vatican City State. He can do what he wants. However, as head of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, why doesn’t he go around inspecting what his prelates and priests are teaching?

  14. GAK says:

    anilwang, exactly. When my father came over to the USA from a communist country, and then began a career in engineering here in the USA, he was APPALLED at how much we waste in the USA.

    Labor and parts are expensive for a reason (whether for x ray machines or cars). Because the structure of this country is set up to make it more worth someone’s while that they buy something NEW rather than getting something fixed. (Think about it, this is also true regarding getting shoes cobbled, clothes mended by a tailor, etc.)

    My father began a charity in which he bought himself, or received for free, barely used, or also older but very solid, hospital equipment and he sells it to 3rd world hospitals for the cost of shipping alone.

    Our stuff over here, even the 10 year old stuff, is excellent. And it ends up in landfills all of the time.

    So I get the Holy Father’s concern and where he is coming from. To us, having a new car is no big deal, and it’s very often not a wasteful choice to make, given our options. It can be more fiscally prudent to get a new car, or ditch one that is only a few years old. But that’s due to an infrastructure of waste.

  15. anna 6 says:

    This kind of micromanaging of people’s freedom makes me uncomfortable.

  16. APX says:

    Given the depreciation (30% of whatever it’s price) that happens to a brand new car the moment it is driven off the lot, I agree with not buying a brand new car under the majority of circumstances.

    That said, I recall a couple years ago feeling very guilty that I, a poor university student, was driving a newer, more reliable and non-rusted out vehicle (a 95 Honda FWIW) than what the priest was driving (a 94 Ford Rust bucket that he replaces after he got tired of fixing or repairing it almost daily).

    I have zero problem with priests driving a new modest vehicle (if you show up in a Hummer, Porsche, Land Rover, etc I don’t really think that’s “living in the spirit of poverty”). Personally, I would expect a priest to drive a vehicle suitable for where he is living.

    When I call for a priest, I don’t want to worry that he won’t show up because your vehicle won’t start, he breaks down out in the boonies, he’s stuck in the snow in his little sub-compact commuter car, or it’s so rusted out it could fall apart at any moment, etc.

    I’ve owned a lot of vehicles and whenever it comes time to buy one, a lot of thought and research goes into what I purchase. I can’t get over how some people will just buy a vehicle because it runs (according to the guy on the phone) and it’s cheap. If I wouldn’t drive it, I don’t expect priests to drive it.

  17. acardnal says:

    Perhaps His Holiness has been watching too much CNBC or Fox Business channel. Sounds like he may be revitalizing the market in the used car business. Sweet! I can see new signs all over town at the car dealers now: “Pope recommends people buy used-cars to help the poor.”

  18. mamajen says:

    I’ll admit that it sounds a bit micromanagerial, but I do think it is important and good to root out wasteful spending where it exists. Since Catholics are compelled to support the Church, those who spend that money must be equally compelled to use it wisely. When you are genuinely sacrificing in order to give to the Church, it can be extremely frustrating to see money go to waste.

    Now, that said… People need to be careful not to presume too much. I have a lot of nice things because I am very good at finding excellent deals on either new or used items. There are people who probably think my family is very well off, and would be shocked to know the actual numbers. Sometimes if I have managed to spend very little in certain budget areas, I will splurge on something important to me. For me it’s not about status or labels, it’s about quality and design.

    And one last thing… It’s the act of giving that is important. I have to remind myself of that often. It’s not up to me to fret about how the recipient spends my gift. By giving, I show that I am not attached to things, and that I would have nothing if not for God. I wouldn’t be thrilled to see my priest zipping around in a new BMW, but it’s not my problem–nothing gets past God.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Suburbanshee, very wise words, which have to be taken into account. That said…

    we can thank our Holy Father for one thing (and I say it without irony). Maybe it finally gets into Catholics’ heads that the Pope, yes, is our superior, yes, is infallible when he is infallible, but that this is about it; to disagree with him otherwise is not un-Catholic (so far that’s, intellectually, not unknown) nor is it any sentimental “maybe not positively un-Catholic but after all not so Catholic at all”.

    If finally all Catholics get this (while all self-acclaimed Catholics get infallibility), it would be worth the effort.

    I say that without irony.

    As to the particular thing… there are some points which, if the report is true, seem to have been rather overlooked by His Holiness. Though one may never know.

    1. There is a difference between those who have vowed poverty and those who don’t. The former arguably should not have a luxury car (which is – what? but that’s another thing). The latter fall under the general freedom to do with their own money what pleases them (which, yes, belongs to Catholic morality). Though, arguably, if priests, then a sports car does not fit so much.

    2. The “World” (meaning, now, those parts of it which do complain about the Church’s wealth) is unsatisfiable, it will not stop to demand more poverty until the Church’s servants are reduced to their bare bread, if indeed then. Hence the only feasible strategy against such claims is ignore them (“what’s it to the proud oaktree when a boar rubs his bristles at her bark”)

    3. Back in the days, it was said that prelates with a certain rank and above (don’t remember which ones; at the very least it included Cardinals) were dissuaded from going by train, and if they would, they were required to go first class. There’s something to that. A prince of the Church is also a representative and must represent.

    Maybe there are fine lines. If you are not the Pope himself, maybe there are arguments for not taking first class in a flight if there’s also business. But if you are a bishop, there is a very good argument for not taking economy.

    (On re-reading, I see a bottom line here: Things like that are, in itself, the very playground of positive legislation. But… then we would go into details and decide, for instance, that a BMW 3 is acceptable and a 5 not, or a 5 yes and a 7 not, etc. Of course Protestants, who detest the idea that somebody could actually do something entirely allowed to him, would go head over heels in accusing us of Pharisaism.)

    4. The poor (and the mass of mankind) as a rule do not detest the rich. They detest it when a rich oppresses them, or infringes their lawful rights by extralegal conspiracies, or despises them, or thinks they could be just as rich (“if they had worked as hard as I have”, etc.) and are hence guilty, or is miserly towards them, himself, or in both directions, or neglects his duty to take a lordly and jovial place in general society.
    And of all these, the mere egotist who does not give away his money but indulges in it himself will even earn the least enmity.
    Which is why there is so much hatred against bankers (conceived as building an abject caste to its own with little contact to the rest of the world) and also some against real-business men (excepting of course one’s own employer), and so very little against nobility of inherited wealth, and professional soccer players and the like.

    5. The Church does not fight the rich; nor does she want to convert them as from a sin… she wants to bless them (and the poor) and lead them to use their riches in acceptable ways. In this sense, there really is no “Church of the poor”, if only because for the rich as well, she is the only source of salvation.
    We might ask what pastoral effects it has on the rich, when “riches” (and arguable ones) are shunned with priests to these extents.

    6. If I remember that correctly, and if my feeling is right, good quality in a product (which costs money) is an end, I guess not a necessary one but certainly a supportable one, in itself and not only with recourse to efficacy, in Catholic social teaching. And of course… there is also the efficacy thing. Priests need good cars, even from a usefulness point of view. (As I said they do not need Porsches, Ferraris, Mustangs, or the like. I cannot see, though, why they, at least if not under a vow of poverty, should not choose a BMW 1 over a Fiat of equal size.)

  20. Ralph says:

    Our pastor was forced to purchase a sturdy 4 wheel drive truck. He nearly lost his smaller car trying to cross a stream to visit a shut in elderly woman (I expect that our rural western parish’s total area may be larger than many counties) and decided he better make a change in vehicles!

    I think that the Pope’s actions speak to a larger concern that he has. Do the clergy in our Church remember that they are called to serve the people? Are some using the leadership positions with which they have been entrusted to line their pockets or make their own lives more luxurious?

    In my own life, I have to sometimes stifle anger and jealousy when I see our priests head off on regular bi-annual two week vacations. (My family, and I am sure most of my fellow parishioners, can’t afford even one vacation a year)

    BUT – then I feel ashamed when I stop to think about how many times our good priests get up in the middle of the night to go and minister to a person in the hospital, how many weeks on end they work on their one day off so that Mass can be served at some parish that would otherwise not have a Mass, how far many of them have moved from family and home so that we in missionary country can have sacraments. When I think if all that they do for me it’s hard for me to begrudge them a vacation – or a nice car.

  21. Boniface says:

    the original article sounds like yet more hearsay from the mainstream media who find a way to twist any possible piece of information about the Pope’s words and actions into their preconceived narrative. We would do well to be very careful in buying into this story.

    On the subject of clergy, religious, and cars, however, Fr Z many commentators here make many good points. We must always remember however, that many people are scandalized simply by appearances even though father or sister may have been given the car for free.

  22. yatzer says:

    When my last auto was on its last legs, so to speak, I researched used cars of the city-driving, reliable sort I need and was astonished to find that a new one was less expensive than a used car of the same type and with the same features. Still haven’t figure that one out. Our priests often drive SUVs or some such, which makes sense to me because of our winter weather. Also there is a Catholic auto dealer around here who gives them a very good deal.

  23. GregH says:

    I agree. I live in Northern Virginia and the kinds of cars you see driven on the Beltway and I-66 are largely Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, etc. Priests do not need to own these kinds of cars. But there is nothing wrong with a priest getting a good, reliable new car such as Honda Accord, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, etc. Quality cars that are not luxury but not gonna break down in 2 years either.

  24. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Our rector just received, by donation, a Lincoln Town Car. The car is used, but that really wouldn’t make a difference in this case: it was a donation from a parishioner.

    I want to second the thoughts of those who say that our priests need to be able to get where they must be to serve the sacramental, spiritual and temporal needs of their flocks. One horse may be as good as another in many circumstances, but a Clydesdale and a pack mule are not equally well suited to the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon.

    On the other hand, is it just remotely possible that His Holiness is choosing the course he is for reasons other than what makes the headlines? Consider: Vatileaks; Pope Francis doesn’t live in the Papal apartments. Now he releases a Motu Proprio about the juridiction of the Vatican City State in criminal matters. Then he reminds those who work in the Vatican that they actually work there. If I connect the dots, I see a pattern emerging, which has nothing whatsoever to do with some glorious Franciscan care for the poor, in the material sense.

  25. tgarcia2 says:

    I can see where he is coming from, and let’s be honest, if you’re able to change your oils and fluids on the maintenance schedule than a 2007 Kia can last you a while (mine will be 7 years old soon).

    A Jesuit I know drives a 2000 Honda, and my parish priest drives a 2008 Honda…both are fine as they are NOT BMW’s, Mercs, Audi’s, etc.

    If a priest were to buy oh a brand new Ford Fusion that has up to 50mpg or a liberal Prius for the economical gas mileage return, then fine, those cars can last you a LONG time (remember fluids) and all you have to do is check the belts, sway bar links, ball joints, etc per the manufacturer maintenance schedule.

  26. onosurf says:

    Meanwhile, Ireland is voting on nationalizing abortion, defense of marriage is crumbling, churches are closing, cardinals are making blasphemous statements, etc. etc. etc

    Let’s make sure no one has to much ice in their cup as the plane is nose down in rapid decent!

  27. lizaanne says:

    Because the Church has no other concerns that require his attention, or anything that is causing souls to stray from the Truth, and all priests and bishops are living examples of holiness.

    Yeah – right.

    Pardon me if I’m not impressed with the new Vatican auto pool police.

  28. Joe Magarac says:

    I applaud Pope Francis for taking this step. Is it a little ridiculous? Yes. Is it more than a little micro-managerial? Yes. Does it forget that secular priests don’t take vows of poverty? Yes.

    Having said all that, this is the kind of new evangelization that Pope Francis wants people to engage in, because it works. Go to any msm website that allows comments, and look at what people say after the msm report that Pope Francis is worried about the poor, or wants to fight hunger, or thinks that priests should not be driving expensive cars. They go crazy with approval – you’ll see dozens of comments in which fallen-away Catholics and atheists say that the new Pope making them reconsider their take on the Church and Her doctrine, in part because he is emphasizing the part of Christianity that all people of good will love and respect – care and concern for the least among us.

    It is certainly possible to overdo simplicity and poverty. But I would argue, and I suspect many more would argue, that too many priests underdo it. Also, there is a tremendous difference between the kind of car that a parish priest needs in the snowy North or the rural West, and the kind of car that a Vatican bureaucrat needs in Rome. The best kind of city car is often a beater, and to the extent that Vatican priests drive luxury, I am glad that Francis is making them reconsider.

  29. Muv says:

    Perhaps we should club together and take the 1993 Ranger off that lady’s hands in Wyoming. It should convert nicely into a Popemobile.

  30. dans0622 says:

    Can. 282 §1. Clerics are to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from all things that have a semblance of vanity.

    §2. They are to wish to use for the good of the Church and works of charity those goods which have come to them on the occasion of the exercise of ecclesiastical office and which are left offer after provision has been made for their decent support and for the fulfillment of all the duties of their own state.

  31. AA Cunningham says:

    Hopefully the Pontiff will next start examining cars in Church parking lots looking for Soetoro, aka Obama, pro-infanticide, LCWR, et al bumper stickers.

  32. kneeler says:

    I don’t want to waste much time on this subject, and there’s not much to add that hasn’t already been said – however i just want to say that I agree completely with Fr. Z about the distinction between GOOD and LUXURY.

    Let’s just say there’s a priest who buys a well-maintained, used Mercedes. He is a larger feller and he drives hundreds of miles a week between his three parishes, hospital visits, meetings, funerals, etc. Is this luxurious?

  33. Cantor says:

    In the service, we registered our vehicles each year, and Yes! – if you were a Captain with a family, driving a Porsche, there might be questions. You were possibly on the take somewhere, or, at the very least, impersonating a fighter jock!

    These days, image is a huge part of the package. Pope Francis seems to recognize this more than many. It’s tough to justify that third Offertory collection (as we had two weeks ago) if there’s a Lamborghini (which we don’t have) in the “Reserved for Pastor” slot. Certainly, many priests receive their cars greatly discounted or as outright gifts. But they must be clearly aware of what others think who don’t know the scoop.

    Protection? Please! The man has the protection of the Holy Spirit. Previous Popes have gone so far as to lead armies into battle. The best Chobham composite armor won’t protect a man whose time has come.

    His excursion doesn’t seem to be a waste of the Pope’s time. He chose to walk to lunch through the parking lot instead of the garden. Good for him. I pray he has many more creative moments of relaxation.

  34. kneeler says:

    ^ The point is the car he drives suits his needs, even though it may be considered in a luxury class.

    Again it all comes down to definitions. The owner of a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport might not think much of this used Mercedes C-Class. [Ah… the Veyron!]

  35. tzard says:

    I remember my college Chaplain – we were amazed he used the BIC pens down to the last bit of ink. Most of the rest of us lost ours long before then. His car was also good but modest. He also had long trips to make several times a year.

    A car has to be new at one point – by insisting on used cars, one is just pushing the cost onto others. Sure, the Vatican’s budget may legitimately be the concern, but if this is turned into some sort of moral imperative, whoever is doing so (or suggesting it) is sure nearsighted.

    Another thought – is there a security concern by buying “used” cars which have been in others’ control, and may have been modified with surveillance devices? Ok, your average priest may or may not be of interest to authorities, but diplomatic entities like the Vatican have always been the interest of spies.

  36. Bosco says:

    I wouldn’t want to be lying on my deathbed at home waiting to receive the last rites and be told Father can’t make it because his old VW microbus wont start.
    The manufacture of luxury cars provide employment for someone.

  37. Papabile says:

    Examining the bumper stickers might be nice, but they seem to be a peculiarly American thing. I mosied down to the USCCB this last election cycle and took a few pictures…. FWIW Counted 36 Obama stickers and 1 Romney sticker….

    In any case, I can see where the Priest often needs a more versatile vehicle than most parishioners, especially if they have a large geographic Parish. But one might need a less versitile one if the parish is a smaller. It depends on the environment.

    Also, for some, larger cars are a necessity. For me it was either a Suburban or a 12/15 passenger van for my family. We chose the 99 Suburban in 2012 b/c of the lower center of weight and 4 wheel capability. I am sure someone would have said the 12 pass was more modest.

    What a ridiculous waste of time.

  38. wolfeken says:

    Pope Francis said: “it bothers me when I see a priest or a sister with a brand new car”

    It bothers me when I see a priest or a sister with a brand new Mass.

    [LOL! Okay… that’s completely off topic. But you get the coveted Gold Star because you made my chuckle.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  39. Supertradmum says:

    This really bothers me. Reminds me of socialists in England, Ireland and Malta who want the Church to strip down the Cathedrals and churches, get rid of art, lace, etc. These types of arguments beg the question of what is a good and what is necessary.

    Now, I am poor, use public transport, and walk everywhere, but if someone gave me an Austin Healey in good working order, I would take it.

    I hope the good man is not a socialist.

  40. rcg says:

    Pope Francis is talking perception. I think he may see people with limos sitting in the parking lot and not using them very much. My wife and I used to joke about the ‘Priestmobiles’ that was always a huge black Chrysler for carrying old ladies and kids to hospital or Mass. It was a family ride and we thought it was very cool. Now we resent everything.

    I personally hope my pastor has a MAXIMOG when we see TEOTHWAWKI.

  41. netokor says:

    I agree with many here. Priorities are not quite right. Immediate excommunication of all Catholic politicians who openly support contraception, abortion and unnatural “marriage” is warranted. The scandalous rebellion of these heretics currently causing so much harm is certainly more worrisome.

  42. Robbie says:

    I suspect I will catch some flack for this comment, but I’ve felt it for some time. I believe Pope Francis has confused the job of the Papacy with that of a social worker. In the days after his election, I read a parody website which said Francis intended to the work the Midnight shift at the Vatican McDonalds with the plan of donating his salary to the poor.

    I admire Pope Francis’ genuine and deep concern for the poor, but isn’t the Church about more than just poverty? Will the issues that burden the Church be healed only when priests and nuns drive jalopies? And let’s be honest. Isn’t it more sensible to drive a newer car that will last longer than some beat up junker that may or may not start every day?

  43. george says:

    I would ask: Would you also want your nearest Emergency Medical Technicians and Ambulance companies to subscribe to the same philosopy of “cheap transportation”? Most would surely prefer that they are driving the most reliable and fastest vehicles which will do the job. I consider the priest to be driving an emergency vehicle in some situations. If I’m in a bad accident and someone notices my scapular and calls a priest, I would really rather he arrive ahead of the EM crews.

    Now, maybe Father doesn’t need to drive a Police Interceptor (http://www.ford.com/fordpoliceinterceptor/), but I do want him to be driving something reliable go get to the hospital or an accident as soon as he can. I don’t like at all that they report on Pope Francis in a way that makes him seem more interested in style over substance.

  44. maryh says:

    @Father Z: The Pope is checking out what cars Vatican employees and cardinals are driving.

    Sure he is. He’s paying attention to what people are actually doing. Management by walking around. I think @Suburbanbanshee is exactly right. He’s using FUD by doing what comes naturally to him. And – I don’t think this is micromanagement – I think it is directly relevant to the Vatileaks cleanup, as @Joe Magarac also said.

    Unfortunately, as these things often do, it’s the people who are already being too scrupulous who will agonize over whether they should drive their accident-prone junker just one more year. And it’s good to remind people that there’s a difference between a luxury car and a good car. But his primary aim is at Vatican employees right now, and I think it’s right on target.

    @wmeyer: The time spent on such gestures (which in the end are almost certain to be of no real value) would be far better invested in a number of other issues:
    – gay lobby in the Curia
    – fixing or disbanding the LCWR
    – reinforcing to the USCCB the essential nature of the Latin Mass, and ensuring it is widely available
    …I could go on, but so could we all.

    @onosurf: Meanwhile, Ireland is voting on nationalizing abortion, defense of marriage is crumbling, churches are closing, cardinals are making blasphemous statements, etc. etc. etc

    I think this is part of taking care of these things. You notice he pointed out “sister” as well as “priest”. And I wonder what kind of car a certain west coast Cardinal drives?

  45. Jeff says:

    But Father, but Father! Shouldn’t the priests all be using public transportation?! Think of how humble they would all be! They don’t need silly cars! Taking the train/subway/bus, etc would be so much better for the environment as well! Think of the children!

  46. Would this be too much for me?


  47. acardnal says:

    Not all priests serve in metropolitan areas with public transportation – as His Holiness did in Buenos Aires. Most of the USA is rural with rural parishes – where they grow and raise the food the world eats. Those priests need vehicles to travel. . . many to the several parishes they serve!

  48. NoTambourines says:

    The priests in my hometown — or at least the Jesuits who served our parish — seemed to have landed a deal on Plymouth Reliants.

    Wonder who might’ve claimed the custom license plate “OFR ITUP.”

    As for the car inspection, my parents have always said “Buy quality, buy once.” You don’t want the priest rushing over to administer your last rites struggling to make 38 in a 55 zone in a rusty Yugo.

  49. Just from the standpoint of a good business decision, buying a used car, over a new, is usually a good idea. Of course they must be new at some point–but the drop in value is not always linear, so a used car can be a very good value.

    But I wouldn’t say that means a new car is problematic as a witness. A lot of priests get new cars when they are ordained, because the car that’s gotten them through the seminary is ready for the Last Rites.

    Someone mentioned public transit. The problem in much of the U.S. is that public transit isn’t going to do for rushing to someone’s assistance.

    Some of the comments seem to underestimate the holy father’s apprehension of how things sort out. I doubt that’s true.

  50. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Perhaps His Holiness has been watching too much CNBC or Fox Business channel. Sounds like he may be revitalizing the market in the used car business. Sweet! I can see new signs all over town at the car dealers now: ‘Pope recommends people buy used-cars to help the poor.’ ”
    @ acardnl

    When was the last time you caught Fox business endorsing public transportation? Sustainability? If you’re going to call out bad economics, at least get the economic theory correct.

    That being said:

    He’s Bishop of Rome. It’s part of his authority to decide these details. Is it really ‘false economy’ for doing an inspection of assets? I’d do the same thing over if I were taking over a business, go over the assets, find out what is being productively used, and what is not being productively used. Again, it doesn’t have to be something that he personally does – he just has to go over his staff and tell his staff, “take inventory”, and then once he has a good idea of what he has to work with then he can start to make good decisions.

    Let’s not forget that one of the reasons why Rome is so prominent today is because of the actions of Pope Gregory I. In a time when Rome was very poor and devastated, he managed to turn the entire city around and from there – Italy. He took over the civil administration of Rome and most of Italy at the time, a time when political upheaval and earned their trust through wise allocation of assets. There *are* examples of Popes doing exactly what Francis is doing here. Take a look at Pope Gregory I, and that’s exactly why he’s remembered today.

  51. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m wondering how long it takes a pope to figure out the job and then do it. In the context of what many of us are hoping for on a few counts, whatever. In the context of what I fear may be happening (nothing much), it’s maddening. If he addresses the homosexual problem, focuses some attention on the sacred and important state of marriage as between one man and one woman and as anything else as disordered, wonderful. If he cracks down on seminaries that have been harassing men with heterosexual inclinations while encouraging homosexual and “male feminists” to pursue the priesthood, excellent. If he encourages a renewed interest and facilitation of the TLM in any way, such that those of us who are dying for it in our parishes might participate in it without traveling for two hours, fantastic. If he supports an invigorated appreciation for traditional Catholic teaching and liturgy, also music, amazingly superb.
    If he continues to focus on minutiae and ignoring the rotted planks to pull out the splinter, it will be just incredibly disappointing, frustrating, and in today’s horrible world, terribly discouraging.

  52. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Someone mentioned public transit. The problem in much of the U.S. is that public transit isn’t going to do for rushing to someone’s assistance.”

    @ Fr. Fox.

    It actually bothers me more what he has to say about public transportation. Public transportation isn’t really being ‘respectful’ for the poor, because those who take public transportation are consuming resources paid for in taxes. Those who ride the bus are only paying (about 10 percent), of the total cost associated with riding the bus. This means that the other 90 has to come from other people (ie, John Q Taxpayer). In a time when tax revenues are drying up – riding the bus consumes scarce resources that could be directed elsewhere. I haven’t heard much said about this… People seemed very much in favor of his ‘humility’ and ‘charity’ in choosing to ride the bus, but now they are in uproar over his criticism of those with vehicles… I expected something like this. If you can afford to drive a car, drive. Drive a used model with a couple years on it when 90 percent of the depreciation has occurred. Taking the bus when you can drive is not being ‘respectful’ of the poor – rather than taking responsibility for 100 percent of your resources, you’re only paying for 10 percent and having other people pick up the other 90. Get a car that will:
    1, run in good order! 2, meets the needs, ie, Rome doesn’t have the same requirements, as say, Wyoming. Priests are very busy people. If you have to drive to quite a few places to do everything that’s in your schedule, why would anyone prefer to take the bus (which is much slower!) If there truly are vehicles that see very little use in the Vatican, then why shouldn’t Francis sell them off?

  53. jhayes says:

    According to Advertising Age, Pope Francis uses a $16,000 Ford Focus hatchback to travel around Vatican City:

    Scott Monty, Ford’s global head of social media, said via e-mail that the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears to be using a “second-generation” Focus instead of a new model.

    For Pope Francis, it’s yet another contrast with predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who had a custom-made electric vehicle donated by Renault and a BMW X5 given to him as a gift by the German auto maker.

    The Focus is anything but a luxury car. With a U.S. starting price of $16,310, Ford markets the vehicle as a fuel-efficient alternative for consumers looking to save money in the showroom and at the gas pump.

    As such, the Focus is a perfect brand for the Pope to send his austerity message to the Catholic Church, said Gary Stibel, CEO of the New England Consulting Group.

    “This is a smart car for a smarter Pope,” said Mr. Stibel. “It’s a simple, real car for a real humble Pope. Clearly Ford does benefit from this because he’s chosen their car.”


  54. JacobWall says:

    The priests I know have good, funtional cars, but far from luxury (newer VW Jetta, smaller Ford pick-up, a Dodge caravan, and some little but nice car that looks boxy in modern way.) I’m glad that they have cars that work well – and look nice. Their work is hard enough otherwise.

    I wouldn’t even have a problem if a priest had a nicer, closer to luxury, or even luxury car; as someone above pointed out, they often come as donations.

    However, what leaves me unconvinced about getting upset upset over this story is the details in the article, or lack thereof. I don’t suspect for a moment that you would make this up, Fr. Z, but in the small part you translated, it’s too vague to say that this is some huge anti-luxury crack-down on the part of Pope Francis.

    Was this a formal inspection, with him noting license plate numbers, makes and years, as everyone seems to be assuming? Or was a it a casual walk through the parking lot on the way somewhere else, with an informal chat that happened to make its way into the Italian media? The part of the article you’ve given us doesn’t indicate either way. If it’s the latter, than I’m not bothered by it. Pope Francis is entitled to his opinion about cars, and if he’s not actually spending time, money or effort on some silly crack-down, I don’t think it’s an issue worth paying attention to, either way.

    Fr. Z, perhaps you know from reading the rest of the article if there’s some solid indication about an actual program, or if it’s just a few off-the-cuff comments from the pope that some liberal wants to blow out of proportion to justify making life hell for priests who enjoy the practicality of functional cars.

    As you implied, Fr. Z, what concerns me far more than Pope Francis’ chats as he strolls through a parking lot is what ill-willed people in local parishes will put their priest through because of the perception of what he said.

  55. churchlady says:

    “people who can barely scrape three brain cells together, are going to latch onto the vague moralism of “think of the poor” when looking at the local priest’s car.”
    Father, this has happened in our parish. Our priests were gifted a used car and it really is old and pretty crummy, yet because of the brand name, people complain about it. It looks like an old used car, so I don’t get what the beef is, just because of a symbol on the trunk? It’s not a Jaguar or Mercedes! The good thing is with the complaints, hopefully our priests will get a truly better car for their needs.

  56. Ella says:

    Hopefully His Holiness was assessing the number of “Save the Liturgy, Save the World” bumper stickers. I love my priests; they have an incredibly hard and often thankless job and they have to drive around a lot so let it be in something comfortable and safe and even nice to drive. They give so much to so many, one little luxury isn’t a big froggy deal.

  57. Ben Kenobi says:

    @ Father Z:

    Paint it White and Yellow and put some of the Z-swag and Our Lady of Guadaloupe on the back! Heads would explode ;)

  58. JacobWall says:

    To weigh in on the “public transit” point, I agree that people have to be very careful about this. Priests are often busy, and need to get around faster, or have something more reliable. When I had my house in Mexico blessed, the same day the priest had a few other house blessings, a birthday party, his regular classes at the parish charity school, and Mass. Now, that’s enough to fill a day, and I’m sure he needed lunch and supper along the way somewhere. And I’m sure that wasn’t an abnormal day for him. Relying on public transit, he wouldn’t have been able to make it to all of that, and the needs of “las ovejas pobres” would be greatly compromised. Without the car, he would have to take taxis. But even that takes longer (waiting for the cab to arrive) and it would boil down to the same thing for ill-willed people, “Why is the priest riding around in luxury in a taxi, using up the Church’s money? Can’t he even drive for himself?” You can’t win with those people. Personally, I’m glad that he has a decent vehicle to get him around.

    In some cases, a priest may be able to make public transit work for the needs of their work (for example, in Mexico City, the subway is faster than a car – a purely practical issue) but each priest needs to decide that on their own, according to their needs, without liberals (who aren’t about to sell off their own leather-seated cars) waiting to judge them for their choice.

  59. majuscule says:

    Our parish has three churches. On Sunday Father must drive 20 miles to one mission church then 20 miles to the other (Masses are an hour and a half apart) and then back 20 miles to the parish church where he may or may not have another Mass.

    None of our priests have fancy cars. But they need reliable transportation!.

    When one priest’s car broke down, parishioners gave Father the money for a rental car.

  60. That was…brilliant!
    While it is true that most clergy should probably not be driving around in fancy cars, it makes a lot more sense to have them in one that will not break down all the time and cause repair bills to skyrocket as well.
    Yet, IMHO, the Pope is not “most clergy.”
    Soooo, if he is up for saving a few dollars, I think your suggestion would be quite the positive alternative! *thumbs up*

  61. PA mom says:

    I am in strong support of the Pope on this one. What was the quote from Archbp Sheen about most of the people hating what they think the Church is, not what it really is? Lots of people think that Rome has too much wealth to genuinely be following the path of Jesus. It is good, worthy publicity and if it leads others back to the Church then it could b worth it.
    Identifying unusual levels of apparent wealth is also a marker for fraud investigation. Not sure who to trust to give the straight story? Do it yourself.

  62. sunbreak says:

    I agree that priests should drive modest cars. I have no objection to them having new cars – I would want them to have reliable transportation. A previous pastor bought himself a new Mercedes at the same time that the economy was collapsing and parishioners were losing jobs. This definitely did not make a good impression on parishioners, especially since his current car (not a luxury but definitely one of the better and more expensive models in the brand) was purchased new only 2 years before that. (And no, it wasn’t a leased car.)

  63. New Sister says:

    I know a priest on the Roman Rota. He works arduously – to the detriment of his health – and is paid very little, barely enough to pay his rent and live on. Yet he drives (parks inside the Vatican) a superb car (Volvo S80) which his brother buys for him. I find it narrow-minded and rash to judge him for what he drives, or even to judge *what* he drives. I pray Pope Francis realizes that he deprives the faithful of the great privilege of honoring God’s anointed, which does far more for us than for them.

  64. Charles E Flynn says:

    I hope we never see the discovery of an authentic ancient manuscript that suggests that Paul shipwrecked off Malta because Peter convinced him to get an inferior boat.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  65. dominic1955 says:

    IF this is true, it reminds me of the stories (which may be anecdotal) of Pope Pius XII wandering the Vatican halls turning out lights and insisting they kept the old papal limos rather than buying newer ones to save money. Penny wise, but pound foolish. Popes do not save money by bothering with things like this.

    In my neck of the woods, it is not totally uncommon for old folks to give a priest a car-which might end up being a Lincoln or a Cadillac. Both are luxury cars, but its a wholly different matter getting a few year old, low mile, well cared for luxury car as a donation versus the priest going out and buying a new luxury car on his own initiative.

    The people will know what the case is and on top of that, anyone that has ever experienced parish life on the cleric side of things will know that no matter what, someone will find something to complain and gossip about. So, drive a Caddy or a junked out economy car or anything in between and any way people will be “scandalized”.

  66. Bea says:

    Maybe the pope should visit our parish and check out the bumper stickers here:
    “Obama/Biden=pro pres.”
    “Masonic member emblem”
    That’s more important than the make of the cars.

    I’m sure many of these clerical cars were not purchased by the clerics, themselves, but were gifts from loving parishioners who could also use them as tax-write-offs.
    Burros and bicycles went the way of villages and village priests.
    We now have highways and freeways, and if my last hours on earth depend on my spiritual director arriving on time for a proper “send-off” I want to make sure he gets here/there/or wherever God chooses to call me to arrive on time without mechanical problems to hold him up. My very soul may depend on it.
    “The poor you will always have with you”
    But a souls safe spiritual send off arrives only once in a lifetime.
    I want that assurance with a properly working auto for my cleric.

  67. RobW says:

    My parish priest drives a Hummer H3 (which is not a good car)…then again theres no kneelers in the church, no confessional (I have to confess in a hallway with people walking around), before the election we had a visiting “social justice” priest basically tell us to vote for Obama, everybody talks and laughs loudly before Mass….dont get me started. Good priests should drive good cars.

  68. netokor says:

    Fr. Z, I see you more in the original Batmobile. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and it’s got all the gadgets a militant priest would need. Unfortunately it’s no longer available. It was sold in January for only 4.6 million dollars.

    [Hey. I wouldn’t mind the Batmobile from Dark Knight. Actually… it may be more my style even than the Veyron. Okay, I’ll take both. I’m just sayin’]

  69. Bea says:

    Fr. Z:

    Perfect car for you:

    “Would this be too much for me?


    After all it is the CHURCH MILITANT

    PS My husband says: “I didn’t know he was a parking lot attendant”

  70. Gemma says:

    Faith and morals. We must pray that he sees that his job is this and not waste his time.

  71. frjim4321 says:

    I would be fine with a diocesan policy that provided me with a serviceable vehicle that could be depended upon to get me to the hospital or sick call in the middle of the night. But I don’t see that happening soon. Diocesan priests are expected to have wheels to get huge. Where they need to be ib give exercise of their duties. In all fairness, if they are not going up be provided with a vehicle the church really has no say in what they purchase.

    With regard to “new,” I think it is more economical to buy a new car every ten years and drive the heck out of it. And to maintain it.

    It’s important to remember that diocesan priests are not required to take a vow of poverty. If we want to change that, fine, but that’s another discussion.

  72. frjim4321 says:

    Huge = around. (Siri???)

    Typos due to lack of reading glasses and 9 hours driving today.

  73. frjim4321 says:

    And the 22 oz Taj Mahal!

    [Surely the introduction of the name of an Indian beer was an attempt to curry the favor of the benevolent dictator of this blog. Alas, you have only succeeded in irritating me, for now I have a hankering for Tikka Masala.]

  74. Stumbler but trying says:

    “He is the Head of State of the Vatican City State. He can do what he wants.”

    That’s right…I bet he was just taking a stroll after having spent the afternoon with “El viejo” and he was caught by camera and the Italian press went wild as they are known to do. The story reads like assumption and speculation and I for one, take the Italian press with a grain of salt much like I do the news that comes out of “el pueblo.”

    However, as head of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, why doesn’t he go around inspecting what his prelates and priests are teaching?”

    Now, you have something there and it should be a top priority…he will get to everything he needs to get to, eventually. I wonder if Papa Francisco has a list of things he wants to get to…but as they say “a pope can propose but never impose, I suppose.” ;p

    In the meantime, I will continue to pray for him as he has asked. <3

  75. JuliB says:

    FrJim said: “With regard to “new,” I think it is more economical to buy a new car every ten years and drive the heck out of it. And to maintain it. ”

    I follow that same belief – but my car is now about 12 years old. It’s a Toyota so I think I have another 5 or 10 years still.

    IMO, a priest should be able to do what he wishes with his own money. You guys serve your whole life, 24/7.

  76. Michael_Thoma says:

    The Sedia – the greenest, most environmentally friendly transport – before green was in! Perhaps HH is trying to revive it, and will use the liberal eco-arguments against them. [I’m with you.]

    As to wonderful Indian tastes — Chicken Tikka Masala with a cold Kingfisher or Taj Mahal — nothing goes better together, after the Holy Qurbono of the Malankara Syriac Catholic Church of course. Fr. Jim and Fr. Z – please come and celebrate with us, one day!

  77. robtbrown says:

    My guess is that no group of priests come as close to meeting the Pope’s desire for automotive simplicity than the SSPX.

  78. Gratias says:

    I have a solution. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter’s has two of the original columns of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Israel would pay an excellent price for them. Pope Francis could sell them and give the proceeds to the poor of Rome. Then He could sell the relics of the True Cross [?!?!?]now in the Vatican treasury to our Orthodox Bretheren. With the proceeds He could buy a new fleet of Toyota Prius to appease Mr Gorebal Warming.

    The treasures of the Church are sacred. The poor will always be with us no matter what the Socialist Justicialists want. Justicialists is just a fancy name for Peronist, which is what Pope Francis was in his formative years. [?!?] There are no Church loving Peronistas in my view. Peron had many Catholic churches burned down, and this ultimately brought his demise back when Argentina was Catholic. [Just when I thought this whole thing was too weird to post.]

  79. Rachel K says:

    True, Diocesan priests are not asked to take a vow of poverty, neither are lay persons. But we are all called to live frugally in a way which doesn’t add to the lack of necessities of others less fortunate.
    I think it is a great thing that Pope Francis is drawing our attention to the huge disparity between the Western/industrialised/developed parts of the world and the majority who live in poverty through no choice of their own, sometimes abject poverty. It does need to be mentioned that the biggest disparity is between the US and other countries, even in Europe the per capita level of consumption and “standard” of living is not as “high” as the US.
    What we may consider to be basic necessity car-wise looks like luxury to those poorer brothers and sisters of ours. I think also the distance in time since the Second World War has made us forgetful of the helpfulness of not quite having enough even in the necessities of life, let alone the benefits of convenient transport, even for important evangelising tasks.
    This attitude is not socialism, it is the teaching of the Church. It is quite clear in the Catechism that we have a responsibility to our needy brothers and sisters and all the resources we have are not really our own, but are to be divided according to need, as in the early Church. The Holy Father is right, many of us live in excess while others go hungry and e expend too much energy and money making sure we are comfortable before thinking of them.

    [Remember: If there is no market for top-line, cutting-edge, even luxurious cars, there will be less advancement in the technology of lesser, more mainstream cars. The tech developed for the more expensive cars will trickle down into the manufactures other lines.]

  80. jflare says:

    It would be interesting to know why His Holiness chose this means of highlighting the potential problem of luxury cars.

    Strikes me as a concern that’d be best handled by the local bishop–or his equivalent–in private meetings, not as a form of a public statement. Honestly, this almost looks more like a publicity stunt than a genuine effort at providing a good example and guidance.

    In particular: How does one define “luxury car” vs not? For that matter, isn’t it possible that a “luxury car” might be warranted if it’ll last for 200,000 miles, as opposed to only 150,000 or so with another?
    That IS part of the reason that “luxury cars” become famous, is it not?

  81. Supertradmum says:

    The Vatican could just buy all the priests Vespas. Those get around better in Rome than cars. [They are great, until you die. From what I have seen in Rome, I call these things “donor mobiles”.]


  82. Imrahil says:

    I cannot say that the public image which, certainly, is being created about our Holy Father’s attitude to which, imho, enjoys at least the presumption-of-innocence to be legitimate pleasure, is not going on my nerves (which of course does not matter). And, a Cardinal at the Roman curia gets a four-digit number beginning in 2 as a monthly salary. Of course it is euro and it is somewhat netto and he does not really pay for housing, but still… given that he serves in the Ecclesial equivalent to a minister’s position… we cannot say they are overpaid.

    But… and here’s why I write another comment…

    that the Holy Father micromanages is a good thing. That is as long as the time does not go off of more working for more urgent needs; as long as it is concerning either the diocese of Rome, or the Roman curia; and as long as other forms of management are not better in pure terms of efficacy.

    In the Catholic Church, all power of jurisdiction resides in the bishop (in union with the Pope in Rome). In the relationship Rome/dioceses, subsidiarity is the thing to be. (Though arguably the niveau of sensible papal interference, or just running routines of little interest by curial bureaus which have to be run by some bureaus anyway, could be extended far over the one it has now). But a bishop in his diocese, and the Pope in relation to what is curial matter anyway, should micromanage as far as he can and wants to.

    In the military, any soldier constantly awaits a supervision-of-service by the responsible superior.

  83. Fr AJ says:

    Go Pope Francis! I drive a 10+ year old car with 200,000+ miles on it so I don’t have much sympathy for Bishops and Cardinals driving new luxury cars. Once there was a priest in my Diocese who had, besides his regular BMW, four sports cars. While he’s free to own them, it was an object of scandal and gossip in his parish.

  84. jhayes says:

    It seems to me that there are two different issues here. In his address to seminarians, Francis said

    “It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car, you can’t do this,” he said.

    “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.”

    The point there is that the money could be better used to help the poor

    A separate issue is Francis’s several times repeated image that a shepherd should take on the smell of his sheep, so they can identify with him. From that standpoint, a BMW might be no problem for the pastor of a parish in Monaco, but could be a real barrier to sharing the life of people in a slum area of Marseilles

    A follow-up article reported on a priest who, after hearing Francis, decided to sell the $65,000 Mercedes Benz he had been given by his four brothers.

  85. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, that “Bearcat” would be great for mounting your HAM antennae and gear!

  86. Pingback: The Pope Should Not Have a Posh Popemobile!

  87. APX says:


    Just because a luxury car is a luxury car doesn’t mean it will last longer. Luxury cars are expensive to maintain. There are no “aftermarket” car parts from them. Mechanics need to specialize in X manufacturer to be able to repair it. The vast majority must run on premium gas.

    On the other hand, my 1995 Honda Accord is almost at 400,000 kms and is still being driven by my parents. Aside from basic maintenance, all I’ve done that was expensive was replace the original factory clutch at 336,000 kms for $1000. Granted, I was able to get the timing belt and water pump changed for free labour, but that’s part of owning a car. I put a heavy-duty timing belt in at 262,000 kms and it shows no wear, this doesn’t need changing. That said, I wouldn’t expect a priest to drive such a car because when you get it up there, you still never know.

    I will say one thing. The new Hondas aren’t what they used to be.

  88. Supertradmum says:

    I have an honest question. Why do the Romans not know how to drive? Just curious.

  89. Kavi says:

    I would like to suggest a compromise: http://i.imgur.com/4HeXgAi.jpg

  90. Elizabeth D says:

    I actually think Pope Francis strongly has the right general idea. Okay, sometimes there is a legitimate prudence in a priest possessing a newer, quality car. But priests and ESPECIALLY RELIGIOUS should have a personal lifestyle and material circumstances close to the poor and the ordinary people. There was a religious priest I often donated to, and then he and another religious went on a vacation to Florida to a house someone had loaned, and rode jetskis. And, because this is to me “how the other half lives” and not what a person of my material circumstances would be able to do, and because I can only WISH I had a religious vocation and if I DID I would not go on vacation (!!!) it just was… strange. I don’t think I envied him the vacation, but I can’t lie… I lost some respect for him. I don’t own a car, (I owned a horse at one point… I was living with my parents, this was not real life) have never had a license. I am a bus rider and I LOVE that Cardinal Bergoglio was a public transportation rider, I bet he was not into lots of fancy restaurant meals either (another thing that is not a part of my life as a poor person). I have never seen a priest, seminarian or religious on the bus. I can easily imagine why that might not make sense for them. But still, I think it is a mistake to underestimate how much more easily the Church might evangelize the poor, who in my experience truly are those more open to evangelization, if the poor did not see Catholicism and its clergy as a middle and upper middle class thing, that does charity service but isn’t really “for” the poor.

  91. Cantor says:

    Fr. Z – if you’re going to go wheeled vehicle, check out the BTR-90. Room for you, the altar boys. a chunk of the choir, and it stops at nothing!

  92. jflare says:

    Seems to me that every car requires lots of expensive maintenance, luxury or not. I would suggest that if the clergy have too many luxury cars, perhaps they’d be well advised to consider their overall lifestyle. Again though, I’m inclined to consider this a matter that should be handled privately, not as a public news event. I also consider that many luxury vehicles that I’ve come across..tend not to be so luxuriously kept after awhile, precisely because they’re so expensive. ..But they still run quite well. They’re simply not maintained to “new” spec.
    Then again, some brands of luxury cars are partly considered luxury cars because they DO expect to last longer than usual. BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo come to mind.

    Elizabeth D,
    For all I understand the idea you’re trying to convey, I’m rather irritated by Pope Francis track record regarding transportation. If you might begin to consider a priest more highly because he rides a bus, I’m inclined to think more dimly of him. I do not consider use of public transportation to be an example of being closer to the poor, I rather consider such a view to promote rather a false humility. I also consider such efforts as liable to be a poor use of one’s time. Buses and subways tend to require using routine routes, which inherently limit where a person can go. I think this a problem more than a solution.
    I’ll grant that public transport might be most effective for long distance travel (thus the success of the airlines) or in places where traffic congestion might be a serious problem, such as New York City.
    On the whole though, I’d say these circumstances are rather fewer and farther between.
    I think a priest or seminarian would be wisest to expect to drive a vehicle himself. MUCH more ability to get around in most places that way.

    …And, realistically, much safer as well, because windows can be raised and doors locked if a situation warrants.

  93. Avila says:

    I have never been able to buy a brand new car and due to extreme financial difficulties of late, my car has not been serviced in one full year, the first time we haven’t been able to meet our normal servicing time frames. I have been asking the Precious Blood to cover and fill our car and keep it going until we can pay for a service, God in His mercy hasn’t let us down. I do think that even if clergy were to buy second hand cars, God would be with them when they turn to Him in prayer for the safety and wellbeing of its running, especially when they are using it for His service and glory.

  94. Rachel K says:

    jflare- “I do not consider use of public transportation to be an example of being closer to the poor, I rather consider such a view to promote rather a false humility. ”
    Or maybe just a true humility?! Lol. I am not sure how riding on a bus promotes a false humility, I always found it a bit inconvenient, tiring, not very comfortable. But it is the transport of preference for those who cannot afford a car; yes people who don’t run a car still exist. Which reminds me of the Bill Bryson anecdote of his attempt to cross a major road somewhere in the US. He discovered eventually that it was not actually possible to cross the road as a pedestrian from one side to the other, even thought he could see his destination just a few yards on the other side of the Tarmac. In the end, he drove to his destination, just a few feet away! The world has gone mad!

  95. Lin says:

    It matters not to me what priests drive as long as they are faithful Catholics, follow the rubrics of the MASS, and preach Catholic sermons. I pray the hierarchy weed out the Protestant priests. The liberal media and the progressive priests still have their hopes up with Pope Francis. I firmly believe that he will disappoint them before too long.

  96. Elizabeth D says:

    It is not just a gesture, of faux humility or of whatever sort–you can say driving an old Fiat rather than a Mercedes is a gesture moreso than you could say that about riding the bus, since riding the bus is a different human situation, it is being with people. People have conversations on a bus while they are sitting there together, it is not a private-capsule mode of transport, you are traveling together, you are on the same boat… or bus. As someone who rides the bus, a bus riding Archbishop is manifestly someone APPROACHABLE, someone you can talk to.

    I happen to really, really like my bishop. Much as I like him every conversation I ever had with him (always brief) has been awkward. I think he’s kind of shy, and so am I, I am nervous talking to a bishop. And actually he lives sort of in my neighborhood, 15 minutes walk from my apartment, and basically in an apartment. But there’s also a sense that he inhabits another world. And the disposition toward him of the general public in our place is, unfortunately, one reason why I would advise him not to ride the bus. Cardinal Bergoglio riding the bus makes, actually, a statement about the relationship he had with the general public in Buenos Aires. Every bishop has probably asked himself “how would the general public on a bus deal with it if I rode the bus/subway/train like that in my own diocese? and how would I deal with the reactions I received, and how might I learn to better understand the people in my place, how to relate to them and communicate with them, how to have a legitimate sensitivity toward them and a mutual respect, how to deal positively with the negative reactions and people’s resistance to Catholic teaching which they might manifest to me by negative behavior?”

  97. Indulgentiam says:

    I dunno, if i were Pope, I would have started my clean up of the Vatican, NOT in the parking lot but in the Curia. You know heretical cardinals, bishops and priests who are scandalizing and scattering the sheep. Then I’d progress to the nuns gone wild. After I had those fires put out then I’d meander out to the parking lot and check out the clergy’s carros :)
    I think of it this way. If my house was on fire and my kid was inside I wouldn’t go looking for the silverware before I started looking for him. But hey! quién sabe ;)

  98. Paul C Md says:

    It’s not just the pope that walks by a priest’s car and thinks “is it pride, a waste of my family’s tithe or from his book sales and needed for book signings?” If someone donates a Ferari, would you drive it or kindly request a more humble vehicle with perhaps the rest to pay for a new roof?

    I think the pope is saying what St. Francis would think walking by a priest’s car. Who knows the truth or reasoning involved, but the thought occurs and so his statement is posed.

    I think the same thing with my house, tools, family cars. We should from time to time reconsider this and act accordingly.

    The pope asked the question. Reason it Father Z and move on accordingly. [Good grief.]

  99. jflare says:

    Honestly folks, I should hope that our bishops–and priests–do NOT spend much time fussing over how the general public perceives them or might react to them on a train, on a plane, or in a restaurant. I expect a priest or bishop would understand how to interact with the public when needed, including some amount of evangelization, but would have the sense to remain focused on the reason for why they’re going someplace.

    If you ask 20 different people about the same problem, you’ll invariably receive 20 different answers. Some might be useful in some cases, most will be close to useless at large. I should hope that our clergy would NEVER begin a major evangelizing effort based on a several-minute bus ride.
    So they’ll demonstrate a different “sensitivity” to various of people? Well, too often, this ends with insistent INsensitivity to those who’ve already embraced the faith. ..And I notice that..for all that people like to talk about how great outreach can be, I can’t overlook the notion that such outreach only rarely leads to outright conversions. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it’s VERY rare.

    I would very much prefer if our clergy would worry much less about appearances in the sense of appealing to various groups who aren’t Catholic, worry much more about insisting that those who HAVE come to faith should live it as vigorously as possible.
    ..And I’d appreciate if they’d worry a great deal more about insisting that self-proclaimed Catholics actually live and vote according to the Church’s teachings, or else be bothered to be honest and leave the Church.

    I’m tired of all this equivocating, “dialogue”, and symbolic gesture that seems ultimately to lead pretty much nowhere.

  100. jflare says:

    “He discovered eventually that it was not actually possible to cross the road as a pedestrian from one side to the other, even thought he could see his destination just a few yards on the other side of the Tarmac.”

    Hmm. I’ve mostly heard “tarmac” in reference to the ramp at a fairly busy airport, not a street or road. It could refer to almost any area of concrete perhaps, but that’s a somewhat confusing reference.
    I don’t get why anyone would be shocked or surprised at being unable to move safely as a pedestrian across a busy road. Irritated perhaps, and sometimes with good cause, but not surprised. Yes, sometimes a destination WILL be only 50 yards away as the crow flies, but require 5 blocks worth of driving to reach safely. We can’t have arenas, airports, parks, lakes, rivers, and other large, public gathering places about without having those same attractions create traffic trials for someone else. Most facilities and points of interest tend to interfere with quick, easy access to “over there”.
    Then too, we can’t have longer trips that don’t take forever to make unless we can go faster than 40 mph, but being able to drive at 75 inherently requires that we can’t have all forms of traffic able to use the same space. ..Since I notice that nobody has proposed returning to horse-drawn carriages and dirt roads for our typical goings-about, I suggest we tolerate a few necessary evils.

    World gone mad? Hardly.
    I’d say this is the end result of a pro-life world. If we’re going to have lots of people, we’re going to need to allow them all to move from place to place.

    ..Unless someone can develop a workable transporter beam…..

  101. GAK says:

    “Supertradmum says: I have an honest question. Why do the Romans not know how to drive? Just curious.”

    I would say a lot of Romans are excellent drivers. It takes a lot of attention and pure driving skill to put themselves in the precarious positions they habitually do and get out without a scratch. Of course, they also have a high rate of accidents, but considering HOW they drive, is it really that high? Considering the risks they take, do they crash as often as less skilled drivers would? I think, were they less skilled drivers taking those same risks, there’d be more crashes.

    Once, after months in Rome, I stepped across a major intersection in Manhattan. I was jay walking. I had plenty of meters (considered in Roman terms) to get safely across. Well, those drivers just panicked! They hit their breaks! They were unable to deal with my sudden, unexpected crossing of the street. Of course, the bad was mine. I should have remembered what country I was in.

    Overall, I think Roman drivers are much more skilled than Americans. They hone those skills daily.

  102. kmcgrathop says:

    I have a feeling the Pope was being a tad facetious in speaking (if he ever used the word) of an ‘inspection’ of the Vatican City parking lot. I have never seen the lot, but I can imagine there might be some pretty fine chrome in there. And the point he makes is an apt one, not only (but maybe especially, as far as Pope Francis is concerned) for the Curia, but for clergy and religious in general. The clerical or religious state should neither be nor be perceived as a path to a comfortable life, much less a luxurious one. And here, as many of the comments reveal, appearances matter. If Father is telling everyone to buckle down and contribute to this fund or that fund, or encouraging them to make the sacrifices to have larger families, those messages can seem less than convincing if Father has a better car than most of his parishioners, or if Father has just sunk 10 grand into upgrading his kitchen, or if he enjoys the use of his ‘mother’s’ beach house on a regular basis (N.B. These are purely hypothetical cases! ;) )

    There are of course those people who will always complain. And there are those good souls who will always find an excuse for poor Father (Did you ever hear the one about the two Irishmen in a pub across the street from the brothel? If you did, you’ll know what I’m talking about)*. But the credibility of the clergy’s witness suffers when people perceive that we are not in some way sharing in their own, even financial, struggles.

    I applaud the Pope. I don’t think it’s micromanaging. Maybe his intent is to scale back some of the ‘perks’ some in the Curia may enjoy as a way of cleaning house.

    * P.S. Here’s the joke:

    “The Brothel”

    Two Irishmen were sitting at a pub having beer and watching the brothel across the street.
    They saw a Baptist minister walk into the brothel, and one of them said,
    “Aye, ’tis a shame to see a man of the cloth goin’ bad.”

    Then they saw a rabbi enter the brothel, and the other Irishman said,
    “Aye, ’tis a shame to see that the Jews are fallin’ victim to temptation as well.”

    Then they see a Catholic priest enter the brothel, and one of the Irishmen
    said, “What a terrible pity…one of the poor girls must be dyin’.”

  103. JARay says:

    I see that a measure of humour has entered into this topic.
    Since I was not one of the clergy involved my telling of this tale has to be second hand.
    A certain Bishop of the diocese in which I was born (in the UK) took a similar attitude to the one taken by Pope Francis. He declared (so I’m told) that clergy should not own cars at all in his diocese. The individual parish could own a car and priests of that parish should use that car when the need arose. After he promulgated this edict he called a meeting of his diocesan clergy. To a man they all turned up with Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Jaguars and the like. They had gone out of their way to hire or borrow whatever luxury car they could get their hands on.
    That Bishop got the message and his edit was quickly and quietly forgotten.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  104. nicks says:

    We all should understand why the Pope needs such an expensive bullet proof vehicle – do not forget the attack made against our beloved Pope John Paul in 1981. The church and in turn her leader has enemies. But this is not about the “Pope Mobile”… This is about saving our church!
    I agree that the priests and bishops need reliable cars and new ones would be best as the cost of parts and repairs on a second car may cost more in the long run.
    However, if all they need the car for is to get to mass or to visit the homes of the sick etc. then a new economy or mid size sedan for example a Toyota Corolla or Camry should be sufficient.
    I do not understand why they must drive luxury cars or for that matter have tinted out cars.
    Many of the priests I know have cars that are tinted so dark you are not able to see into the cars. It leaves the masses to think what are they hiding and numerous rumors circulate among church goers because some people claim to have seen what or rather whom they are trying to hide.
    I love my religion and so do many of my cousins and we are all relatively young – even after all the recent scandals we are committed to our Roman Catholic faith but many of our friends who went to R. Catholic school with us and used to attend church have left the church.
    One of my Jewish friends asked me after mentioning the numerous media reports on the scandals, ” how can you stay Roman Catholic?” I asked her if she would have asked another Jewish person that if scandals came to light in her religion and would she leave. She said no because Judaism is not just a religion, it is a way of life, an ethnic group, a people. She could not “leave and not be Jewish”. You see the R. Catholic church members can choose to leave…if they are angered or upset by the way the leaders of the church behave.
    Many are attracted to the new ministers of the mega churches or they leave because they are upset by recent scandals. Many of our schools which educated our children in the life and ways of our religion, faith and church have been closed.
    Our church is loosing its members…especially in the classified “First World” countries of North America and Europe. We however still have a large faithful following among the people in what is classified as “Second and Third World” countries. The Caribbean and Latin America. Many Roman Catholic church members are not rich. They attend mass and place what they can as an offering even when they may need that money to support themselves and their families. Many do not feel it is fair that the priests, bishops and cardinals should indulge themselves and enjoy such luxuries as a Mercedes Benz sedan or an SUV. They are supposed to lead by example – Living like Christ. Giving instead of taking, Sharing instead of indulging.
    If in fact the Pope did check the Vatican parking lot and is requesting that the priest, bishops, cardinals and even lay people employed by the church purchase less expensive cars in the future, I do not think this will hurt the image of the church or the Pope. I think it will help improve the views the faithful have of their leaders.
    I pray for the church and her leaders that they may lead us by example and that they may not want for material and earthly luxuries and as St. Therese prayed that God will “keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood. Let Your holy love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion.”

    [Pretty serious.]

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