Pope Francis shuns official residence, opts for guesthouse

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Pope Francis has shunned the regal papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace in Rome and will instead live in the Vatican guesthouse “until further notice”.

“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, CNS reports the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi as saying. See the full CNS story here.

Francis thus makes a break from recent tradition, in keeping with a life-style of simplicity and setting the tone for a church more in tune with the poor.

With this move, the Pope has put many other church leaders (the ‘princes’ of the church) who live in mansions and palatial residences – while many among their flock struggle to make ends meet – in an awkward position. Will they now follow suit and move to simpler residences? One certainly hopes so.

Francis has also set an example for political leaders who want to put in place an appropriate tone of governance based on simplicity and careful spending. One reason why leaders like Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz (and in the past, Gandhi) are immensely popular is that they have opted for a simpler lifestyle – rather than wallowing in opulent surroundings – something which many ordinary people appreciate.

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