WWJD (What would Jesus DRIVE), asks the Pope

From Reuters:

What would Jesus drive? Pope tells priests to buy “humble” cars
Sat, Jul 06 14:34 PM EDT

VATICAN CITY, July 6 (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday it pained him to see priests driving flashy cars, and told them to pick something more “humble”.

As part of his drive to make the Catholic Church more austere and focus on the poor, 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.

“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.

Since succeeding Pope Benedict in March, the former cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has eschewed some of the more ostentatious trappings of his office and has chosen to live in a Vatican guest house rather than the opulent papal apartments.

The ANSA news agency said the pope’s car of choice for moving around the walled Vatican City was a compact Ford Focus. (Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Todd Moore

    What would Jesus drive? Maybe something humble or maybe not, especially if it was something given to him by a patron. For example, what would Jesus wear? How about a seamless garment nice enough to cast lots for?

  • Phil Miller

    The economics of car ownership can be tricky. Now if we’re talking about priests driving around in Jags or Lexuses (Lexi?) that’s one things, I guess, but I can understand not wanting to be driving around hunks of junk that may break down at any given time. I have friends who won’t buy anything but a used car, but in my experience, I’ve had much more luck buying new. In fact, we bought my wife’s car used a few years ago, and a couple of years into owning it, I had to pony up another $3,500 for some major engine work. You just never know.

    I personally am not a fan of the “think of the hungry children it could feed” line of argument. That can be said about anything. I don’t think Christ intends for us to be wringing our hands in worry over every financial decision we make. Yes, we all need to be less selfish, but using guilt to try to force people to be less selfish seems to have a very temporary effect.

  • Susan_G1

    This pope, I like. He talks a good talk. He himself walks a pretty good walk. I don’t wish to detract from the importance of what he is advising the clergy to do. But I’m waiting. He sits on the thrown of the wealthiest country in the world. The Vatican’s treasure of solid gold has been estimated to amount to several billion dollars; add to that real estate, property, stocks and shares, the wealth is so formidable as to defy rational assessment. He could sell a few paintings and feed a small country; sell a few more, and he could rebuild a small country. When he took office, he promised financial transparency. That was a while ago, and I’ve seen nothing since. It’s not hard to live like a very wealthy man (he does – 40 nuns work for him, he has chefs to prepare his meals, drivers, jets, etc.). I want to see the pope start using that wealth to help the poor.

    What would Jesus drive? I’m pretty sure He would bum rides from followers, or pimps/prostitutes/thieves/seekers/etc. that He would meet along the way.

  • Susan_G1

    Phil, I agree that “Christ (does not) intend for us to be wringing our hands in worry over every financial decision we make.” But He cares about what we do with our wealth, and I don’t think it’s a secret. Real guilt (as opposed to what we feel when we are being judged by others) is our conscience speaking to us, and many of us just shut it down.

  • Phil Miller

    He cares what we do with our wealth within reason, but it gets tricky to define what that means for everyone. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is in the business of making us feel guilty, regardless. There is a difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt is something that Christian leaders of all stripes have become masterful at using to manipulate people, and I firmly believe that’s not of God.

    I guess the thing is with this issue, it’s too easy for us to judge what others are doing. The whole issue of what cars clergy should drive kind of hits a nerve with me. Growing up in a pastors family, I’ve learned it’s considered something of a scandal for a pastor to have a car that’s considered nicer than other people in the congregation. Never mind the fact that the car was gotten for a great deal and that it was simply taken care of, people still feel the need to gossip.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “He sits on the thrown of the wealthiest country in the world.”
    That’s not even close to being true.
    And it’s still been a few months. To get the complete mess that is the Vatican Bank and finances in order will take years. And while I clearly think the Catholic Church should give a much bigger percentage of its purse to the needy, those who claim it should just sell all of its historically valuable artifacts, I think is rather short-sighted.

  • Susan_G1

    there is no contesting the fact that per capita, the vatican is the wealthiest country in the world. It also has the highest crime rate, and the highest incidence of unsolved crime in the world. It is also the only country where ATMs offer instructions in Latin. The Pope is also the head of one of the largest ‘corporations’ in the world, the Catholic church. It’s not an oil-producing nation, but I suggest you do a little thinking or reading before saying things that are untrue. As far as selling paintings, I didn’t say it should sell “all of its historically valuable artifacts”. Don’t put words in my mouth.

    What do you think Jesus would think of an organization claiming direct ecclesiastical descent concentrating the vast private wealth of the Catholic Church? Think the rich man who asked Christ what he needed to do to enter the kingdom. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Was He short-sighted, or was He saying something about wealth that was being wasted on oneself?

  • Susan_G1

    Phil, I’m not judging pastors. I don’t think it looks good if he has a chauffeured lexus, but I don’t know the details (maybe the pastor has macular degeneration). I used to joke with a friend that it’s easy to know God’s will for others. I personally favor judging carefully because as we measure, so shall it be measured unto us. I also know where gossip ranks in the scheme of things. It’s reprehensible.

    I don’t know how the Holy Spirit communicates with everybody, but I do believe in a guilty conscience being used by God.

    I stand by the belief that He cares about what we do with our wealth. I think He cares significantly.

  • PJ Anderson

    Per capita wealth? Really? Like 100 people live in the Vatican that is roughly the size of a large suburban mall. That is a ridiculous measure for criticism. Besides, I, pretty sure Luxembourg beats out the Vatican in terms of per capita wealth.

    I agree that this Pope is really doing some wonderful things and I find myself appreciating his mindful steps. The vast riches and accumulated wealth of the RCC have been a sore spot since the earliest days. Perhaps this Pope will aid them in removing the corruption, failure to maintain their vows, and illegitimate financial motives.

  • Phil Miller

    I stand by the belief that He cares about what we do with our wealth. I think He cares significantly.

    Did I say anything that contradicted this? Sometimes I feel if you’re arguing just for the sake of arguing.

    My main beef with the Pope’s statement is this part:

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

    “Latest model” doesn’t have to imply luxury or even non-frugality. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes going new makes the most sense because of the warranty or reliability issues. I think the spirit of the comment is correct, but that it’s painting with too broad a brush.

  • Susan_G1

    Yes, per capita wealth. I didn’t say it was a large country, just the richest. Revenues per capita of the Vatican are 430,000+/yr. Luxumberg is 10% that. Total wealth: Luxumberg is a very wealthy country, but the vatican is top.

    And Amen to your second point.

  • Susan_G1

    Really? then don’t answer! I was being supportive of what you said. I assure you, I don’t argue to see myself in print, nor to engage in worthless debates. I think you may be a bit thin-skinned on this issue, and are taking it out on me.


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