Pope Francis is given a paper cut-out heart with writing reading "Hurray Pope Francis" as he driven through the crowd during his general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Francis has called for an end to the violence and looting that has accompanied the weekend coup in the Central African Republic in his first such appeal for peace since becoming pope. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis is driven through the crowd during his first general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis continues to show his humble ways, but new insight from a fellow cardinal paints a picture of a man on a mission to change the church.
When he first saw his new papal apartment on the top floor of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Italian papers reported he was astonished by its grandeur.
"You could fit 300 people in here," Pope Francis reportedly said.
The renovations on the grand papal apartment are now finished, but he has decided to stay put in a modest Vatican hotel for the time being.
The Vatican said the new pope, who has long shunned fancy digs, told staff and guests of the Domus Sanctae Martae hotel on Tuesday that he had no plans to move out any time soon. He made the announcement during the 7 a.m. Mass that Francis has celebrated each morning in the hotel chapel since his election March 13.
After all, this is a man who chose to live in a small apartment in Argentina as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, cooked his own meals and took public transportation when his position afforded him much better accommodations.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said it's not clear how long the "experiment" of living at the hotel will last. At least, he said, Francis has agreed to move into the papal suite.
But as more examples of his humility and simple living continue to make headlines, a new report by a Roman Catholic magazine in Cuba shows a tougher side of the pontiff.
Pope Francis issued a strong critique of the church before the College of Cardinals, just hours before he was selected, according to comments published Tuesday in Palabra Nueva, a Catholic magazine in Cuba.
According to Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio urged the Vatican to eschew self-absorption and refocus its energies outward.
"The church is called on to emerge from itself and move toward the peripheries, not only geographic but also existential (ones): those of sin, suffering, injustice, ignorance and religious abstention, thought and all misery," Bergoglio said, according to Ortega.
Ortega said Bergoglio's comments were made to cardinals as they gathered to select Benedict XVI's replacement, and reflect his vision of the contemporary Catholic Church. He said Bergoglio later gave him a handwritten version and permission to divulge its contents.
"Cardinal Bergoglio made a speech that I thought was masterful, insightful, engaging and true," Ortega said.
Ortega added that the remarks offer insight about the direction in which the new pope could take the church following his March 13 election.
In his statements, the future pontiff also warned of the dangers of stagnation.
"When the church does not emerge from itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and therefore becomes sick. ... The evils that, over time, occur in ecclesiastical institutions have their root in self-referentiality, a kind of theological narcissism." Bergoglio said.
He also criticized "a mundane church that lives within itself, of itself and for itself."
Bergoglio told the cardinals that whoever became the new pope should be "a man who ... helps the church to emerge from itself toward the existential outskirts."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.
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