18 February 2012

Private Papal Jet

There are many people that look down on the Catholic Church because of what they perceive as great wealth (I tried to counter this misconception four years ago in my weekly thought, The Riches of the Church). One person I have corresponded with over the years is fond of pointing out that the pope has the most expensive car in the world, the "popemobile." Actually, there are a number of popemobiles. The popemobiles are expensive, but they are hardly the most expensive cars in the world. I'm guessing the fleet of presidential limousines are just as expensive, if not more expensive. I know that Airforce One is much more expensive than the private papal jet.

Actually, there's no such thing as a private papal jet. The following is from the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican has no money or space for private plane, says priest

Rome, Italy, Feb 8, 2012 / 04:04 pm (CNA).- Contrary to popular belief, Pope Benedict does not own a private jet but instead travels on commercial airlines since the Vatican “doesn’t have the space or the money” to maintain one, an insider said.

Mexican priest and journalist Father Gonzalo Meza told CNA on Feb. 2 that the Pope always departs Rome on Alitalia, and an airline from the country he is visiting usually brings him home.

However, he noted, the “papal jet” is outfitted with special items, including pillows and seat covers embroidered with the papal coat of arms.

During his flight to Mexico for his March 23-25 visit, nearly one hundred people, mostly journalists, will accompany the Pope.

Security for the trip is always provided by the host country, Fr. Meza said.

Fr. Meza said that during his flights, Benedict XVI “takes the opportunity to get ahead on his intellectual work or to pray. He likes to write, and he writes all of his homilies and speeches by hand, and then his translator transcribes and corrects them. He almost never uses a computer.”
If you really want to know the cost of a popemobile, the present one, a custom-built Mercedes Benz ML430, is valued around half a million dollars. However, like most things in the Vatican, it was donated by the manufacturer as the Catholic Church really couldn't afford such an expense.