Bangladesh readies rickshaw for down-to-earth pope

DHAKA – Pope Francis will forego his trusty popemobile for a cycle rickshaw in Bangladesh, Catholic officials said Thursday, as the famously frugal pontiff began a three-day visit to the poor country. A spokesman for the Catholic Church said the pope had asked to ride in a cycle rickshaw to a park where he will lead an open-air mass on Friday, which is expected to draw around 100,000 worshippers. “There is a rickshaw ready for him,” Kamal Corraya told AFP, adding that the pope would likely forego the glass-sided popemobile that he usually travels in for a basic Toyota car to save money. The 80-year-old Argentine pontiff has established a reputation for his down-to-earth manner, vowing to stamp out extravagance among the clergy and bring the Catholic Church closer to the poor.

Dhaka is famous for its cycle-pulled rickshaws, which are usually decorated in bright colours.

But in recent years they have started to fade away, replaced by new battery-driven autorickshaws.

Corraya said the last pope to visit Bangladesh, John Paul II, had ridden in a rickshaw pulled by a Catholic priest.

The moonlighting paid off – he was later promoted to the rank of Bishop.



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