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Pope Francis to shun luxury papal apartment, for now

Pope Francis

By Hada Messia and Laura Smith-Spark

ROME (CNN) — Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartment used by Benedict XVI and others before him, preferring instead to stay in a simple suite at a Vatican hotel, a Vatican spokesman said.

The papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace is ready for the new pontiff to move into, the Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN on Tuesday.

However, he has decided to stay at the Casa Santa Marta, the residence where he’s been staying since the papal election two weeks ago, for the time being, Lombardi said.

He’s given no date for when he might move out of the two-room suite, Lombardi added.

His presence at Casa Santa Marta, the residence near St. Peter’s Basilica where all the cardinals stayed during the conclave, means Francis will continue to meet his fellow priests for Mass and other communal activities.

Although he’s not moved in to the apartment, Francis is using the Apostolic Palace, including offices in his papal apartments, to carry out his papal duties, such as holding meetings and audiences, Lombardi said.

Francis, the first Jesuit to assume the papacy, has become widely known for his embrace of simplicity and humility since he became pope.

He’s spoken of his desire to see the Roman Catholic Church be a “poor church, for the poor,” and his sermons have focused on the need to look after the needy and sick, as well as the natural world.

Break with tradition

The pope’s decision to remain in Casa Santa Marta, at least for now, is in keeping with his track record.

While serving as archbishop in Buenos Aires, he declined to live in the archbishop’s palace, choosing instead to live in a simple apartment. He also passed on a chauffeured limousine, preferring to take the bus with ordinary people, and he cooked his own meals.

He’s also bringing this approach to the events of Holy Week, leading up to Easter.

On Thursday, Francis will break with tradition by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which includes the gesture of the washing of feet, at the Casal del Marmo youth detention center, the Vatican said last week.

The service has in past years been held at the grand Basilica of St. John Lateran, the official seat of the bishop of Rome.

“In his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate the Mass in a prison or hospital or hospice for the poor and marginalized,” the Vatican said in a statement, using the name Francis used before he became pope.

“With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue his custom, which is characterized by its humble context.”

CNN’s Hada Messia reported from Rome and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

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