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Shiny new BMW for Benedict XVI


Pope Benedict XVI is the owner of a shiny new BMW X5, compliments of the Bavarian sports-car manufacturer.

CLICK HERECatholic World News reports that at the conclusion of his regular weekly public audience on yesterday, the Holy Father was presented with the car, an all-terrain vehicle.

Michael Ganal, the marketing director for BMW, said that the firm was proud to add another car to the Vatican fleet, which already includes several BMW models donated previously.

Informed sources said that the X5 would probably be turned over to the Vatican police force.

When he travels by car, Pope Benedict uses the same vehicle that was donated to Pope John Paul II. In 2002, Daimler-Chrysler offered Pope John Paul a new "popemobile" - a grey Mercedes sedan, armored and specially equipped; it remains in use today.

But several European car manufacturers - notably BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen - have vied for the publicity that they receive by donating newer vehicles to the Pope. During the World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne in August of this year, Volkswagen made new cars available without charge to many Catholic leaders.

In 2001, BMW donated several cars, in the white-and-yellow colors of the Holy See; they are now used by Vatican employees. More recently, Daimler-Chrysler donated several vehicles, including a mini-bus that is now used by the Swiss Guard.

Since the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963, the Vatican has used various customised vehicles - such as a Toyota Land Cruiser - to allow the Pope to be seen by the crowds during papal audiences. Pope John Paul II was riding in one such vehicle, an open Fiat Campagnola, when he was shot in St. Peter's Square in May 1981.

In donating the latest vehicle to Pope Benedict, the BMW cited a list of associations with the current Pontiff. The manufacturer's headquarters are in Munich, where the Pope was once Archbishop; a major plant is in Ratisbon, where the Pontiff taught from 1969 to 1977. During World War II, when he was drafted into a German air-defence team along with his seminary class, the young Joseph Ratzinger was trained for an assignment protecting a BMW plant - then manufacturing airplane motors - north of Munich.

SOURCE
A shiny new BMW for Benedict XVI (Catholic World News 5/10/05)

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6 Oct 2005