The Real Reason Pope Francis Refused To Live In The Papal Apartment

The office of the Pope is a study in contradictions. On the one hand, it's occupied by a Catholic priest, a man who, by all rights, should have lived a life of austerity and humility by the time he achieved that office. On the other hand, he's the head of one of the wealthiest and most powerful organizations in the world as well as a head of state of a sovereign nation, and as such, is granted certain luxuries, such as a luxe apartment, complete with a staff to wait on his needs and coveted views of Rome, as BBC News notes. Indeed, for a century, every Pope has taken advantage of the opportunity that most men in Catholic service could only dream of.

Pope Francis, however, has eschewed all of that. Preferring austerity and humility over grandeur, he's chosen to let the luxurious papal apartment sit empty, while instead living in a much more simple building next door.

Pope Francis has always been humble and frugal

Shortly after being elected Pope Francis I, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio shocked Vatican insiders when he announced that, rather than taking up residence in the luxurious papal apartment, he would instead live next door, as BBC News reports. There, he took up residence in a sort of hotel/dormitory, taking a simple, two-room apartment as his home. Rather than have meals prepared specifically for him, Francis would instead take communal meals with the other occupants of the building. "He let his fellow cardinals know that he will keep living with them for a certain period of time," said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi in 2013.

The reason Francis opted for simplicity instead of luxury is in keeping with his lifestyle before being elected pope. As ABC News notes, when he was given the job of Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, Bergoglio declined to live in the city's Bishop's Palace and instead lived in a small apartment downtown.

Apart from his lack of interest in luxurious accommodations, Bergoglio/Francis has also been known to cook his own meals, pay his own bills, and take public transportation instead of being shuttled about in limousines.