Priests and officials of the Roman Catholic Church in Costa Rica are ready to follow the example set by Pope Francis with regard to transportation, and this means downgrading their automobiles.
It’s not that ordained Catholic priests in Costa Rica are driving around in vehicles manufactured by Mercedes Benz, BMW or Ferrari; but, the current papacy calls for a humble, non-indulgent approach to serving the Church, and this means trading down showy cars for economy models.
When the Senior Cardinal Deacon in the Vatican proclaimed “Habemus Papam,” earlier this year, he should have added “Habemus Parcus Papam Insumptuosus” (we have a thrifty and frugal Pope). The papacy of Pope Francis has been clearly marked by his adherence to a life of simplicity that eschews luxury, superfluousness and excess. To this end, Pope Francis’ choice of transportation when he arrived in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year made headlines.
Rather than being driven in the bulletproof Popemobile of yore, Pope Francis chose a Fiat Idea. In weeks prior to that visit, he toured an island off the coast of Italy in a Ford Focus. There should not be any doubt about the message the Pope is trying to convey to his subordinates and the Catholic faithful: Live simpler lives. Give up the opulence. Connect with people. This is the new Vatican.
Daily tabloid La Teja launched a brief investigation into the driving habits and vehicles of Catholic priests in Costa Rica. They chose five men of the cloth who serve congregations in the Great Metropolitan Area (GAM in Spanish) of San Jose. What they found is the following:
- The models range from 2007 to 2012, and there is a certain preference for Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).
- The resale values of the vehicles range from $18,000 to $30,000 -assuming they are in perfect condition.
- In most cases, the vehicles are personally owned by the priests, who paid out-of-pocket. Only one car was registered to the service of a Diocese.
The cars in question are:
- Suzuki Grand Vitara
- Hyundai Tucson
- Toyota Fortuner
- Mitsubishi Montero
- Toyota Prius (this is surprising)
The investigation by La Teja also found out that there is no limit on how much the Catholic Church in Costa Rica should pay for a car, but all priests interviewed mentioned the same intention of abiding by Pope Francis example and downgrading.
A priest serving the Votive Temple of the suburban Francisco Peralta community in San Jose explained that:
“I am planning to downgrade from my Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS. I should mention that this is my own car, which I purchased with savings I accumulated throughout 30 years of working for the Ministry of Public Education as a teacher. Still, I will downgrade because I admire the simplicity and sense of restraint that Pope Francis brings to the Church.”
Monsignor Oscar Fernandez of the Episcopalian Conference explained that sometimes the vehicles are donations made by private enterprises and benefactors of the Catholic Church in Costa Rica, but that he is considering implementing certain rules for donations that are in line with the Vatican’s current philosophy imposed by Pope Francis, who has mentioned that Bishops should be “men who embrace poverty with no princely psyches.”
Article by Costa Rica Star