Pope my ride! Pontiff heads off on day trip in Ford Focus

Pope Francis has refused many luxuries, such as the papal palace, the use of a gold chair, and red Prada shoes

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The Independent Online

Famed for attending public engagements in a bullet-proof Popemobile, the leader of the Catholic Church has a new ride: the humble Ford Focus.

Pope Francis was driven to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer house, in the compact car, which retails from £13,995 in the UK.

Commentators have congratulated the Pope for practising what he preaches, after he called on church leaders not to drive "fancy" cars in his ongoing campaign for greater austerity.

Speaking last week, he said “It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. 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."

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had a fleet of luxury cars at his disposal, including a custom-made Renault, a BMW X5, and a Mercedes.

Pope Francis also forewent a full holiday in Castel Gandolfo, opting for a day-visit before returning to Rome where he will spend summer in more humble accommodation.

His words have already been heeded, with a priest in Columbia saying he planned to sell his white Mercedes-Benz E200 convertible, which was a gift from his four brothers.

The Pope has eschewed many other luxuries, refusing to living in a palace, use a gold chair, or wear red Prada shoes. He was a regular user of public transport through the papal elections.