Pope Francis

Pope Francis takes delivery of 20-year-old Renault

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 2:42am

Pope Francis is living up to his promise to preside over "a poor church for the poor" after taking delivery of a 20-year-old Renault with 300,000 kilometres on the clock, a gift from an elderly Italian priest.

The pleased-looking pontiff alarmed his guards when he got behind the wheel and drove off in the ageing Renault 4, which was presented to him at the Vatican by Renzo Zocca, 70.

It's not clear how the pope plans to use the car. Francis has already given up the bulletproof-glass-enclosed popemobiles favoured by his predecessors, in favour of an open-topped Mercedes four-wheel-drive.

Moved by Francis' drive to create "a poor church for the poor", Zocca wrote to the Argentine pontiff to tell him about his work with disabled people, the poor and drug addicts in a working-class neighbourhood in Verona in northern Italy. He told Famiglia Cristiana magazine, in an article online, that he had offered the pope a gift, "and what better than my old Renault 4?"

The 76-year-old pope rang Zocca and pressed him on whether he would rather donate the car to charity, but finally accepted the gift.