Pope Francis opts for simple residence

The renovations on the papal apartment are finished, but Pope Francis has decided to stay put in the Vatican hotel for the time being.

Freshly renovated papal apartment sits empty as Francis stays on at hotel

Pope Francis pays the bill at the Domus Sanctae Martae, where he stayed during the papal conclave, on March 14. Francis is still staying at the hotel, even though the official papal residence has been readied for him. (L'Osservatore Romano/AP Photo)

The renovations on the papal apartment are finished, but Pope Francis has decided to stay put in the Vatican hotel for the time being.

The Vatican said Francis, who has long shunned fancy digs, told staff and guests of the Domus Sanctae Martae on Tuesday that he had no plans to move out any time soon. The occasion was the 7 a.m. Mass that Francis has celebrated each morning in the hotel chapel since his election March 13.

Francis has invited groups of guests to the daily Mass, including Vatican gardeners, street-sweepers, hotel workers and staff of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says it's not clear how long the "experiment" of hotel living will last.

The hotel is the same place where 115 cardinals slept during the papal conclave that selected Francis.

Lombardi said Francis had moved into one of the hotel's suites, which is still far smaller than the official papal residence which was sealed after Benedict, now emeritus pope, left the Vatican.

Before being elected, Pope Francis, 76, lived in a small apartment in Buenos Aires where he cared for an aging priest.

Francis makes first peace appeal

Also Wednesday, Pope Francis made his first official appeal for peace, urging a stop to the violence and looting in the Central African Republic.

Francis made his remarks during a general audience.

Central African Republic has been in turmoil since last weekend, when a rebel group staged a coup.

Conclave details emerge

Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega revealed some of the comments made by then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio during the papal conclave. (Reuters)

Pope Francis issued a strong critique of the church before the College of Cardinals just hours before it selected him as the new pontiff, according to comments published Tuesday by a Roman Catholic magazine in Cuba.

According to Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio urged the Vatican to eschew self-absorption and refocus its energies outward.

"When the church does not emerge from itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and therefore becomes sick," Bergoglio reportedly said. "... The evils that, over time, occur in ecclesiastical institutions have their root in self-referentiality, a kind of theological narcissism."

He also criticized "a mundane church that lives within itself, of itself and for itself."

Ortega said Bergoglio's comments were made to cardinals as they gathered to select Benedict XVI's replacement, and reflect his vision of the contemporary Catholic Church. He said Bergoglio later gave him a handwritten version and permission to divulge its contents.

"Cardinal Bergoglio made a speech that I thought was masterful, insightful, engaging and true," Ortega said.

Ortega added that the remarks offer insight about the direction in which the new pope could take the church since his March 13 election.