Pope Francis Circles Back to Hotel — To Pay Bill

You'd think after being declared Bishop of Rome and worldwide leader of the Catholic Church that a little something like a hotel bill might escape notice.

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Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, checks out of the church-run residence where he had been staying in Rome on March 14, 2013.

You’d think after being declared Bishop of Rome and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics that a little something like a hotel bill might escape notice.

But not for the former Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who swung by a Church-run boardinghouse Thursday morning —  the day after he was introduced as Pope Francis to cheering Vatican City crowd numbering in the tens of thousands — to pick up his tab, reports Reuters.

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The pope apparently asked his driver to circle back to the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI — an “historic Palazzo located in the ancient center of Rome” — where he’d been staying in the lead-up to the Congress of Cardinals that ultimately elected him Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s successor.

He’d left his luggage there, which was part of his reason for returning, but the Vatican says he then chose to swing by the front desk, say hello to the staff and pay his bill “because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.” (It’s not clear how much he paid, but “complete pension” rates at the Paulus VI are €85, or about $110 per night.)

This surprised fellow boardinghouse occupant Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, who told Reuters, “I don’t think he needs to worry about the bill” because “[the] house is part of the Church, and it’s his Church now.”

But the Vatican says it’s all in keeping with Francis’ reputation for frugality — as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he reportedly rode the bus, cooked his own meals and preferred a humble apartment to the palatial Archbishop’s residence.

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