This is the kind of leader the Vatican so desperately needs and needed in order to win back hearts and minds and in order to overcome the scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church over the past few years:
Pope Francis has revealed for the first time the reasons for his decision to shun the official papal apartments and instead live in a much more modest Vatican ‘hotel’.
He has told a friend that he likes being in daily contact with ordinary people, does not want to be isolated and enjoys sitting down to meals with visiting clergy.
The Pope, 76, who on first seeing the papal apartments reportedly exclaimed “But there is room here for 300 people!” hinted that the arrangement may be permanent.
The Pope broke with Vatican tradition when he decided, after being elected on March 13 during a secret conclave of cardinals, not to live in the apostolic apartments.
Instead he opted to remain in the Casa Santa Marta, a Vatican residence which accommodates visiting clergy and lay people, where he had stayed with his fellow cardinals during the conclave.
[. . .]
“I didn’t want to go and live in the apostolic palace. I go over there just to work and for audiences.
“I’ve remained living in the Casa Santa Marta, which is a residence which accommodates bishops, priests and lay people.” There he feels “part of a family” he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Clarin, an Argentinian daily.
“I’m visible to people and I lead a normal life – a public Mass in the morning, I eat in the refectory with everyone else, et cetera. All this is good for me and prevents me from being isolated.
“I’m trying to stay the same and to act as I did in Buenos Aires because if you change at my age you just look ridiculous.” The Pope, the first Jesuit pontiff in history and the first to come from the Americas, said his election was “something totally surprising” which he considers “a gift from God”.
Humble, and very, very good at public relations. If the College of Cardinals is not happy with the decision to have elevated Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the throne of St. Peter, then they need to have their heads examined.