BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Pope Francis may be the head of the Vatican state, but he's not giving up the right to travel as just another Argentine citizen.
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has renewed his Argentine passport and national identity card, and Argentina's Vatican envoy told The Associated Press on Monday that the pope insisted on paying for the documents himself.
Renewing Argentine passports and identity cards usually cost about $55 at the official exchange rate.
"He wanted it for when he travels. The Argentine passport is valuable for that!" Ambassador Juan Pablo Cafiero said.
The Interior Ministry announced that the pope went through the same speedy process that all Argentines can now enjoy.
Still, the process was speedier than most for Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Cafiero said he and a deputy went over to the pope's hotel in the Vatican gardens on Friday to personally take Francis' picture and fingerprints and record his signature using a notebook computer. By Monday, the documents were printed and ready for delivery.
The ministry distributed official photos of the documents that were manipulated to blot out Bergoglio's identity number and signature.
In contrast to the smiling Francis whose welcoming gestures have thrilled Roman Catholics around the world, that photo shows him posing in his white papal outfit in classic Argentine style, with a serious and even annoyed expression.
Since popes automatically pick up Vatican citizenship, Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said the passport renewal "fills us with pride."
Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield at the Vatican contributed to this report.