Priests and nuns should not ride in fancy cars, Pope Francis says

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Pope Francis condemns the "search for the latest model of smartphones, the fastest scooter, the car that gets noticed". (REUTERS)Priests and nuns should try to live modestly and the Catholic Church should not be "afraid" of renewing itself, Pope Francis said Saturday.

His remarks came a week after the arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a high-ranking prelate accused of trying to smuggle millions of euros into Italy and money laundering. He was known as "Monsignor 500" after his habit of flashing 500-euro (640-dollar) banknotes.

"It hurts my heart when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model of car," Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks during a lecture to seminarians and novices, people training to become priests and nuns.

He condemned the "search for the latest model of smartphones, the fastest scooter, the car that gets noticed" and then joked with his audience: "Now you will be thinking 'Father, must we now ride on a bicycle?"

Since the beginning of his papacy, Francis has made a point of shunning pomp and protocol, choosing to stay in the Vatican's guesthouse rather than moving into grand papal apartments, and stating that he wanted "a poor church, for the poor."

He said cars were "necessary" forms of transport but should be humble. "If you take a nice one, think about how many children die of hunger. Just that. Joy does not come from material possessions," he preached.

The pontiff earlier gave another indication of his intention to push through reforms.

"In Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are ancient and outdated structures; we need to renew them," Francis said while celebrating Mass in the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse.

Scarano's arrest has embarrassed the Institute of Religious Works, the secretive Vatican bank where the prelate held accounts. The institute's managers resigned Monday, and according to Italian media reports, they would soon face trial for money laundering.

Francis was elected in March at a time of crisis after the resignation of his predecessor Benedict XVI the first such act in 600 years and in the wake of the VatiLeaks scandal exposing alleged cronyism and corruption. Over the coming months, he was expected to promote a radical shake-up of Vatican institutions, starting with the bank.

Source: SABC