Vatican Pope New Car
  • Vatican Pope New Car
  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 picture made available by the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, right, speaks with Rev. Renzo Zocca, second from right, and owner of the Renault 4L seen at left, his assistant Luigi Macchioni, and car-body repairer Stefano Veronesi, fourth from right, after he was donated the car by Zocca, at the Vatican. Rev. Zocca, 70, told the Associated Press Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, that he has dedicated his life to helping the needy in the peripheries of Verona, so when he saw that Pope Francis' priority was to reach out to the world's poor and inspire the Catholic leaders to go to slums and peripheries to preach, he decided to donate what he calls his 25-year-old "car of the French farmers" as a symbol of this approach. The pontiff invited Rev. Zocca for a private audience and on that occasion the priest had the car brought to the Vatican. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press
  • Vatican Pope New Car
  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 picture made available by the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis looks at a Renault 4L donated to him by Rev. Renzo Zocca, not pictured, as he speaks with Zocca's assistant Luigi Macchioni, left, at the Vatican. Rev. Zocca, 70, told the Associated Press on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 that he has dedicated his life to helping the needy on the outskirts of Verona, so when he saw that Pope Francis' priority was to reach out to the world's poor and inspire the Catholic leaders to go to slums and peripheries to preach, he decided to donate what he calls his 25-year-old "car of the French farmers" as a symbol of this approach. The pontiff invited Rev. Zocca for a private audience and on that occasion the priest had the car brought to the Vatican. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press
  • Vatican Pope New Car
  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 picture made available by the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis walks out to look at a Renault 4L donated to him by Rev. Renzo Zocca, parish priest of Santa Lucia di Pescantina, in Verona, northern Italy, at the Vatican. Rev. Zocca, 70, said to the Associated Press Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, that he has dedicated his life to helping the needy in the peripheries of Verona, so when he saw that Pope Francis' priority was to reach out to the world's poor and inspire the Catholic leaders to go to slums and peripheries to preach, he decided to donate what he calls his 25-year-old "car of the French farmers" as a symbol of this approach. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press
  • Vatican Pope New Car
  • In this picture taken with a smartphone on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 and provided by NGO Fondazione L'Ancora ONLUS, Rev. Renzo Zocca, parish priest of Santa Lucia di Pescantina, in Verona, northern Italy, pats his Renault 4L as it is brought inside the Vatican to be donated to Pope Francis. Rev. Zocca, 70, told the Associated Press on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, that he has dedicated his life to helping the needy on the outskirts of Verona, so when he saw that Pope Francis' priority was to reach out to the world's poor and inspire the Catholic leaders to go to slums and peripheries to preach, he decided to donate what he calls his 25-year-old "car of the French farmers" as a symbol of this approach. The pontiff invited Rev. Zocca for a private audience and on that occasion the priest had the car brought to the Vatican. (AP Photo/Fondazione L'Ancora ONLUS, ho)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press

While it's not a Popemobile in the traditional, bubble-shaped sense, Pope Francis now has a car that is not only humble and non-ostentatious but also might go over well with an environmental activist. The pope was given a 1984 Renault 4 that can run on biofuel.

Fr. Renzo Zocca gave the pope his old Renault 4 that had about 190,000 miles on the odometer. Zocca thought Pope Francis would appreciate the car's role in serving poor Italian Catholics for several years. He also knew about Francis' environmental activism, and was proud to tell the pope that it can run on biofuel. This – like so much else the new Pope has done – is different from the style of other recent Popes, who have been known to get lavish Popemobiles from automotive executives. Last year, Daimler head Dieter Zetsche delivered a Mercedes-Benz Popemobile to Pope Benedict XVI and Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn gave him an all-electric Renault.

To emphasize the difference, the 20-year-old Renault 4 isn't bulletproof and complies more with Francis' philosophy of church leaders driving "humble" vehicles. It's also a personally appropriate car, since Pope Francis apparently drove a Renault 4 in his native Argentina. The model was built from the early 1960s through the 1990s, and was sold in markets from Australia to South America. It's not a fancy ride, but it is a better fit with Francis' image as the people's pope.


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