Why the Pope travels so little

Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina

Pope Francis has never been to the US. He went to Jerusalem once but the Yom Kippur War cut his pilgrimage in half. Now he is Pope, he still keeps his trips short and focussed, reports Vatican Insider.

'It is possible that now he is Pope, (Francis) will continue to be a restrained traveller. So far his trips abroad have been focussed and have had a huge impact, not just symbolically. He is in no hurry to fill the planisphere with flags.' This is according to Vatican correspondents Lucio Brunelli and Gianni Valente who wrote a long articlea bout him in  Italian geopolitics magazine Limes, entirely dedicated to Francis’ first year in office.

'The Pope didn’t really travelled much as a bishop. He was a street pastor "with the odour of sheep," which is what he always urges his priests to be. He didn’t have itchy feet, he wasn’t an "airport bishop." He referred to his diocese as 'la mi Esposa', alluding to the matrimonial bond between the bishop and the bit of Church he is entrusted with. This bond binds him not to stay away from his wife too long.'

Indeed, he very rarely ventured outside Buenos Aires. The only intercontinental trips he ever made  were to the Vatican. He always travelled economy class, never took a cell phone, collaborators or secretaries with him. He travelled strictly for institutional purposes (Consistories, synods etc.) and did so less and less enthusiastically in his final years as archbishop in particular.

This was partly because of the toxic surroundings of a Curia that was plagued by conflicts and scandals ('it’s bad for my faith', he told friends in a very serious tone) and partly because given that it was almost time for him to present his resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires to Benedict XVI (as per Canon Law, diocesan bishops must submit their resignation to the Pope on reaching the age of 75), he didn’t want to give the impression he was going to Rome to try and get his mandate extended, Brunelli and Valente write.

Even when in Italy, he rarely went to visit other cities a part from a quick visit to his distant relatives in Piemonte. The Pope who took the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, had never actually been to Assisi before October 4, 2013. He also visited Cagliari – home to the Marian shrine of Bonaria - which has deep spiritual ties with the Argentinean Church because Buenos Aires was named after this shrine in the 16th century – as Bishop of Rome only on September 22.

FULL STORY Why Bergoglio travels so little (Vatican Insider)

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