Pope Gets Keys to Mercedes-Benz M-Class, but Pushes Priests Toward Humble Cars


  • Pope Francis and Dieter Zetsche Picture

    Pope Francis and Dieter Zetsche Picture

    Pope Francis accepts the keys to a custom Mercedes-Benz M-Class. | July 08, 2013

2 Photos

Just the Facts:
  • Pope Francis recently accepted the keys to a custom Mercedes-Benz M-Class and a Smart eBike from Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, but urged Catholic priests and nuns to drive "humble" vehicles.
  • Daimler published photos of Zetsche and the pontiff at a private meeting at the Vatican on July 2, including one of the pope accepting the keys to the M-Class and another of him examining the electric bike.
  • On Saturday, Pope Francis said it upset him to see priests driving flashy cars, prompting a slew of headlines asking "What Would Jesus Drive?"

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recently accepted the keys to a custom Mercedes-Benz M-Class and a Smart eBike from Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, but urged Catholic priests and nuns to drive "humble" vehicles.

Daimler published photos of Zetsche and the pontiff at a private meeting at the Vatican on July 2, including one of the pope accepting the keys to the Mercedes-Benz and another of him examining the electric bike.

On Saturday, Pope Francis said it upset him to see priests driving flashy cars, prompting a slew of headlines asking "What Would Jesus Drive?" and likening the pope to the austere Dalai Lama.

"It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car. You can't do this," Pope Francis said, according to Reuters. "A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world."

The new pope is well-known for avoiding many of the trappings of the papacy. He prefers to live in a modest apartment instead of the more lavish papal suite at the Vatican, shuns the red Versace loafers worn by his predecessor and rides in a Ford Focus in Vatican City, according to media reports.

The National Catholic Reporter said a new survey has found that the single most popular thing Francis has said to date among Italians is his now-famous line, "How I would like a poor church for the poor!"

Daimler said that Pope Francis will use the M-Class at the end of July when he makes his first official visit to Brazil.

"This tradition is a huge source of pride to us," said Zetsche in a statement.

Mercedes-Benz has been providing vehicles for the popes for more than 80 years and is well-known for its photo ops with Benedict XVI, the German-born pope emeritus. The name "Popemobile" was first used in the 1980s in reference to the modified Mercedes-Benz G-Class that Pope John Paul II used for events in St. Peter's Square. The G-Class was replaced by a Mercedes-Benz M-Class in 2002.

Edmunds says: Pope Francis, a champion of austerity, will ride in a shiny, new Mercedes-Benz.

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