Blessing the Popemobiles

Five bubble-backed Fiat popemobiles were blessed that will be used by Pope Francis in his first visit to Mexico. NOTIMEX PHOTO/JESSICA ESPINOSA

Pope Francis prefers simple, open vehicles for visit


Apostolic nuncio Christophe Pierre and general secretary of the Mexican Bishops Conference (CEM) Eugenio Lira Rugarcía blessed five popemobiles that Pope Francis will use in his first Mexican papal visit, which will take place Feb. 12-17.

The vehicles will be two Jeep Wranglers and three Chrysler Dodge Ram trucks. These vehicles will be used in Mexico City, Ecatepec, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Morelia, and Ciudad Juárez as part of the ponti ’s Mexican visit.

In addition, six Fiat 500L closed automobiles were blessed, which will be used for longer journeys.

Lira Rugarcía, who is also the general coordinator for the pope’s Mexico trip, said that the automobiles that will arrive on Tuesday to the various cities, will not be bulletproof.

“They are not bulletproof. The Holy Father has assumed the responsibility for this decision. It’s his style. This is his wish and he has asked for it in all of the places he has visited, including in the Vatican,” Lira Rugarcía said.

At the end of the ceremony Lira Rugarcía, who is also assistant bishop of Puebla, was interviewed and said that the first popemobile used by Pope John Paul II in 1979 was a “cut-up DINA” that didn’t have any protection and was very simple. In fact, the vehicle can be found in the Puebla Archdiocese.

But after the attack against Pope John Paul II in 1981 in Rome, “it was necessary for the pope to have special protection and the popemobiles were armed. But now, Pope Francis says no more. He wants the vehicles to be simple,” the CEM secretary said.