Pope hits priests, nuns with brand-new cars

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Donate savings to the poor instead, Pope Francis says

MODEL PRIEST. Pope Francis embraces a new priest during Mass at St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, April 21. During the mass the Pope ordained 10 new priests. File photo by EPA/Ettore Ferrari

MANILA, Philippines – Known for his simple lifestyle, Pope Francis on Saturday, July 6, said priests and nuns should avoid luxurious lives that seek “the joy of the world in the latest smartphone, the fastest car.”

“It hurts my heart when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model of cars,” Francis told seminarians and novices in a Vatican event.

Francis added in his speech, parts of which Vatican Radio published: “Cars are necessary. But take a more humble one. Think of how many children die of hunger and dedicate the savings to them.”

The Pope’s words resound in the Philippines, with critics accusing several priests of lavish living. In 2011, a bishop even faced the Senate after he supposedly requested a brand-new car as a birthday gift from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Francis, however, said he understands the difficulties posed by modern culture, “because in this day and age, it is very difficult to make a definitive choice.”

He added: “We are victims of this culture of the provisional.”

He said the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was known as a “living saint” for her care for the poor, provides a “courageous” example.  “I would like a more missionary Church… not so much a tranquil Church, but a beautiful Church that goes forward,” Francis said.

RELIGIOUS WOMEN. Nuns attend Pope Francis' celebration of the Year of the Faith in Vatican City, July 6. Photo by EPA/Claudio Peri

‘No holiness in sadness’

The Pope urged a “renewal” in the Catholic Church.

In his speech, he reproached seminarians and novices who look “too serious, too sad.” “Something’s not right here… There is no sadness in holiness,” he said, emphasizing “the joy of the Lord.”

He explained: “If you find a seminarian, priest, nun, with a long, sad face, if it seems as if in their life someone threw a wet blanket over them… it’s a psychiatric problem. They can leave.”

In a homily on Saturday, the Pope also said the Church should renew “ancient structures.”

“In Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are ancient structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to that, through dialogue with the cultures. Always renew according to places, times, and people,” the Pope said.

Since his election in March, Francis has surprised the world by his modest lifestyle, beginning with his decision to live in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the traditional papal residence.

He has also delivered unsettling messages on poverty. In June, he said wasting food is like stealing from the poor, as he denounced a “culture of waste.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.