The New Pope Is a Straphanger

First urbanist pope? Sure.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: Pope, public transit rider. Credit: Roma Today

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He may think gay marriage is a “strategy to destroy God’s plan” and oppose progressive causes like abortion and contraception, but according to the National Catholic Register Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whom today was elected as the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, is at least a fan of public transit.

Having served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, Bergoglio, now 76, soon became known as an advocate for the poor after Argentina’s three-year economic crisis hit in 1999. Adding to his reputation was a storied taste for humble living arrangements, which in this case means choosing an apartment over an “archbishop’s palace” and giving up a chauffeured limousine in favor of riding the bus.

That’s right, the new pope, who will go by Francis, is a straphanger! (Or was, given that he’ll almost certainly have to leave public transit behind for security reasons.) The fact that he spurned overlong cars and was also an apartment dweller — I wonder how much rent the archbishop of your city pays? — makes me confident to say that, in addition to being the first Jesuit and South American pope in history, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first urbanist to become the Bishop of Rome in the modern age.

In all seriousness, though, Bergoglio’s affinity for riding the bus probably places far down on the list of things people care about when it comes to today’s papal announcement. But if we’re going to talk about the Catholic Church’s role in either fighting or propagating global poverty, his history with public transit isn’t something to ignore. Especially if you believe that equitably access to public transit is a human right. Or, in less secular terms, that God created transit.

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Tags: infrastructurepublic transportationbuses

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