New pope shuns ‘Vatican One’ limo

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Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope Francis I waves from the window of St Peter’s Basilica’s balcony after being elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013 at the Vatican. AFP/VINCENZO PINTO

VATICAN CITY—Newly-elected Pope Francis shunned the special chauffeur-driven “Vatican One” limousine after being picked as pontiff, the Vatican said on Thursday.

“Instead of the formal Vatican One car he preferred to take the minibus with the other cardinals,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

The new pope then dined with the cardinals in a Vatican residence where he thanked them for electing him but then quipped: “God forgive you for what you’ve done!”

The former Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the first Latin American pontiff — has a reputation as a humble pastor who has shunned many of the perks associated with high office in the Catholic Church.

Lombardi said that immediately after his nomination on Wednesday, Francis had greeted the cardinals standing up instead of sitting down on his papal throne — also indicating a change in style at the Vatican.

Following his first outing as pope to a Rome basilica on Thursday, Francis went back to the clergy house in a city center side street where he had been staying ahead of the conclave that elected him on Wednesday.

“He packed his bags and then he went to pay the bill for his room so as to set a good example,” said Lombardi, who is a Jesuit priest like the new pope — the first member of the prestigious religious order to become pontiff.

Lombardi also said the pope had travelled to the basilica in a simple Vatican gendarmerie car “without a motorcade.”

The new pope will live for the next few days in Casa Santa Marta — the same Vatican residence where he was staying with fellow cardinals before his election — while the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican are prepared.

Lombardi said: “The preparation will be very simple.”

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