Pope Francis Accepts 20-Year-Old Renault 4 Gift of Italian Priest, Takes Key and Drives Car

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By Vittorio Hernandez | September 11, 2013 9:47 AM EST

Pope Francis now has a second car. He already uses a Ford Focus, but was recently gifted by Fr Renzo Zocca, an Italian priest, a 20-year-old white Renault 4.

Source: Reuters

Fr Zocca presented him the vehicle over the weekend, and the pontiff himself took the key and drove the car which is the same model he used to drive in Argentina.

The old car has 300,000 miles on it. His acceptance of an old vehicle reflects the simplicity the pope is known for, even during his days as Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio.

Unlike his predecessor who used more expensive vehicles, Pope Francis eschewed the limousines and bullet-proof Mercedes Benz used by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when the latter was the leader of the 2-billion strong Roman Catholic Church.

Fr Zocca explained that he decided to give his old Renault 4 to the pope since he was touched by the pontiff's effort to create a Church for the poor, BBC quoted the Italian priest.

Pope Francis called Fr Zocca to inform him that he is accepting the gift, which led the Italian priest to bring the car to Vatican on Saturday.

The personal phone call has become a trademark of Pope Francis, who in recent days also called a woman who was contemplating abortion and another who was a rape victim.

Michele Ferri, one of the recipients of his personal calls who wrote to the pope in a rage, told CBS she expected to receive only a letter from Rome, not a personal phone call from its chief shepherd.

However, Vatican officials warn that there are already impersonators of the pope who had been calling other people, including a French gay man. Christopher Trutino, the 25-year-old gay Catholic from Toulouse, France, wrote a letter to the pope to explain his struggle with his sexuality and faith.

Trutino quoted the reply of his caller that "Your homosexuality doesn't matter," but Vatican spokesman Fr Lombardi denied that Pope Francis called Christopher. He said the only call that the pope has made to France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin.

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