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Pope Francis calls on priests to shun expensive cars

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Pope Francis waves as he leaves after celebrating a Mass, Popemobile-free, during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, southern Italy today. (Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)

Pope Francis said Saturday that it pained him to see priests and members of the Catholic Church driving expensive, flashy cars.

Francis told young and trainee priests and nuns from around the world that having the latest smartphone or fashion accessory was not the route to happiness, according to Reuters.

"It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car, you can't do this," he said.

"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," he said.

ANSA news agency said the pope's vehicle of choice for driving around the Vatican City is a compact Ford Focus.

The Current on CBC Radio: Can the Vatican's Bank change?

Since his papal appointment, Pope Francis has made headlines for bringing a humbler approach to leading the Catholic Church than his predecessor. Benedict XVI's golden-coloured robes and trendy red shoes earned him Esquire's Accessorizer of the Year award in 2007.

At his inaugural mass in March, Francis stressed that the pope "must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important." He also stressed working to protect the environment.

Also in March, Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention centre, in a ritual that he celebrated for years while an archbishop.

Does a person's choice of vehicle imply his or her character to you - and does a career like one in the Catholic Church imply greater responsibility for a humbler lifestyle?

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