Oh ye who do not live in or near Rome, please arm yourself with Google map and look at the travel directions between Castel Gandolfo and Rome.
On a Saturday morning – that is: without the atrocious Roman traffic, which is also a security risk – you can choose a straight Appian route: Appia Antica, Appia Pignatelli, then Appia Nuova; 28 km (call it 18 miles) and 40 minutes later, and Bob’s your uncle. It’s even a rather scenic route.
Cars seem, though, too much luxury for a Pope accustomed to travel by bus.
Therefore, it must be the helicopter.
Now, I do not have anything against a Pope using the helicopter. Nothing at all. But you see, I do not talk about “Franciscan simplicity”, either. Nor have I ever invited anyone to avoid traveling to Rome, whose tourism industry feeds so many, in order to give the money to the poor instead.
So let me ask this straight question: the Mozzetta was not enough simplicity, and tourism to Rome is money better spent for the poor, but there was the need of a helicopter to bridge the 28km to Castel Gandolfo? On a Saturday? What about giving the money to the poor instead?
“Ah, but there are security concerns”.
Are there? Why, then, drive the security guards mad?
“Ah, but the travel and security is all paid by the Italian Government”.
Not last time I looked, it wasn’t. The Italian government puts security and machinery at disposal, but all is paid by the Stato della Citta’ del Vaticano. Even if it weren’t, the money is spent anyway. When well-to-do Argentinians travel to Rome, it does not cost anything to the Vatican, either.
You see, this thing with the “Franciscan simplicity” is a very dangerous weapon to use. People will, namely, remember it, and “new simplicity” can’t simply consist in calling your newsagent in Argentina.
I would personally suggest that either the helicopter use for gite fuoriporta (Castel Gandolfo is a popular destination for one-day excursions) is toned down and the money given to the poor, or the Franciscan tones are toned down instead and we get to see the Mozzetta, the golden cross, the red shoes and all the rest without all the talk of “simplicity”.
The two simply cannot co-exist.