If you’ve turned on your radio or TV today you know that the major event of the day is Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.
We’re used to seeing foreign dignitaries who visit the US being driven around in luxurious armored limousines, but not the Pope. His preference for humble cars has prevailed one more time, as the pontiff traveled from the St. Andrews air base in Maryland to Washington D.C. in a Fiat 500L.
After being greeted by President Barack Obama, the 78-year-old pope got into a black Fiat 500L minivan, providing photographers with a golden opportunity as the small Fiat clearly looked out of place among the Secret Service’s big SUVs forming the motorcade.
Obviously, the Pope’s humble choice of wheels is not random. It’s consistent with his stance on climate change as well as with his view that church leaders must show solidarity with the poor by avoiding ostentatious displays of luxury. It’s already a well-known fact that he gave up the Vatican’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz limousines in favor of an old Ford Focus to travel around the city-state.
The Pope’s Fiat 500L was in stark contrast with the “Beast”, the armored Cadillac limousine used by President Barack Obama.
According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera cited by Bloomberg, Pope Francis will use six Fiat 500Ls while visiting Washington, New York and Philadelphia, as well as a white open Jeep that will allow people to see him.