Pope Francis opts for Vatican guesthouse instead of papal apartment

VATICAN CITY — Shunning the spacious papal apartment used by his predecessors, Pope Francis has chosen to continue living in … Continued

VATICAN CITY — Shunning the spacious papal apartment used by his predecessors, Pope Francis has chosen to continue living in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been staying since the beginning of the conclave.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained on Tuesday (March 26) that Francis will live “until further notice” in a suite in the Santa Martha Residence, a modern Vatican guesthouse for priests and bishops who work in the Roman Curia or who are visiting the Vatican for meetings and conferences.

Francis made his intentions clear on Tuesday morning, while celebrating Mass in the residence’s chapel for its permanent guests, who occupy about half of the residence’s 130 or so rooms.

The pontiff’s choice is a consequence of his desire to adopt a “simple” living arrangement that allows him “to live in community” with other priests and bishops, Lombardi explained.

While his predecessor Benedict XVI cherished the privacy of the papal apartment that allowed him to study and play his beloved piano, the Argentine pope has shown a more common touch with people and enjoys the contact with the residence’s guests and visitors.

Before resigning, Benedict felt compelled to deny that he ever felt isolated during his years in office.

At Santa Marta, Francis only recently moved into Suite 201, which was prepared for him on the night of his election. Compared to the other suites, it has a larger living room where he can receive guests.

With his move, Francis breaks with more than a century of tradition; popes had been living in the regal apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square since 1903.

The papal apartment is large enough to accommodate offices for the pope and his two private secretaries, a chapel and living quarters for the secretaries and the household staff.

Four consecrated women from the Communion and Liberation movement served in the papal apartment under Benedict.

Lombardi stressed that Francis will continue to use the papal apartment in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to appear at the window for the Sunday Angelus prayer.

Francis has started using the papal audience rooms one floor below, which include the private library where official audiences with visiting bishops and heads of state are held.

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  • tony55398

    Good Pope and more importantly good man with a good heart. Simple is wonderful.

  • gpcarvalho

    I have the impression that this pope takes Jesus’ teachings into account. Just by being himself, the initial contrast with his recent predecessors could not be starker. He doesn’t sound like a former Inquisition man, known, justly or unjustly, for sidelining colleagues who disagreed with his ideological preferences. He’s, of course, greatly helped by the fact of not being a relic of the Nazi or the Fascist past.

    You’ll be probably tempted to compare Jorge Bergoglio to Helder Camara, the late archbishop of Recife, Brazil, known as the slum bishop. Camara, who lived among the poor, dressed like a humble curate and had no use for jewels, the episcopal mansion or even a car, was, though, a great institution builder. He not only created the Conference of Brazilian Bishops; he also helped to organize the association of Latin American prelates. Among his many social initiatives is a bank for the poor.

    Loved by the people, Helder Camara was disliked by both the military regime and the ultraconservative members of his church. The contrast between his ascetic behavior and the conduct displayed by some of his colleagues could not be sharper. It’s interesting to note that the professional killer who was hired to assassin Camara was deeply moved by the modest house in which the slum bishop chose to live. Instead of murdering Camara, the bandit chose to confess.

    Following Jesus’ teachings may cause a lot of trouble, particularly in an institution immersed in the remote past and so alienated from the poor it’s supposed to serve. Run by bejeweled and chauffeured leaders, sheltered in exquisite mansions, the hierarchy has many excuses to forget the meaning of solidarity.

    Jorge Bergoglio may have known Helder Camera, his virtues and vicissitudes. Camara’s trajectory may not be foreign to his thoughts. Both, I believe, are among those souls whose major concerns are more related to substance than form. And you usually pay a high price for thinking so and acting accordingly.

  • Novanglus1

    Thank you for this post.. What a fascinating man Helder Camara was.