US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Pope Francis’ lean, "green," driving machine: Paving the way in environmental efforts

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Just when I think Pope Francis can't get any cooler, he goes and surprises me again.

We’ve seen the pontiff make personal phone calls to followers, ride the bus with the cardinals after he's chosen as pope, and voice his opinion that empty convents should be used to house refugees and not as means of making money as hotels.

But Francis’ environmental activism and his awareness to the need for sustainability are what have really fanned my pope crush.

As many of you know, Pope Francis’ new—well, old—Popemobile has quite a history. It was given as a gift to him by Fr. Renzo Zocca. This Renault 4’s previous owner used the car to serve the poor, racking up nearly 190,000 miles to and from the rough, working neighborhoods of Verona, Italy. (Talk about a man after the pope’s own heart.)

There are some who are concerned that having an old car will only increase the possibility of more frequent repairs (the Vatican’s mechanic rode in the back seat during the test drive) and security reasons (the Renault 4 isn’t bulletproof or bombproof like the last Mercedes-Benz Popemobile). Many, however, view this as a much humbler, more Pope Francisesque machine. He did, after all, visit the parking lot in the Vatican and condemned waste, stress that "it hurts [him] when [he] sees a priest or a nun with late-model car."

But for me the greatest thing about his new ride is that it runs on biofuels. These energy sources are made from living organisms (or their waste) and eliminate the need for oil—thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does his car have a service-oriented history, it also is eco-friendly. Perfect for the pope. If only others will follow his example.

As an environmental activist, he has pushed for sustainable efforts countless times. “Please,” he pleaded in a homily back in March, “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” Let us take his words—and eco-friendly actions—and move toward action in our own decisions.

Photo: This photograph shows biofuels. Flickr photo cc by jurvetson