Pope’s common touch poses security conundrum

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Pope Francis AP PHOTO

VATICAN CITY – Finding himself near a Vatican exit and hearing people chanting his name outside, during one of his first days in office, Pope Francis responded with an impromptu walkabout that looks set to become a frequent occurrence.

The new pope spent several minutes shaking hands and cuddling children, apparently taking as much time as he wanted, as security officials and Swiss Guards looked on nervously.

“Security detail in fibrillation, faithful delirious” is how the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano described the scene.

The papal bodyguards had better get used to it.

From the very start of his papacy, the first Latin American pontiff has exhibited a common touch and served notice that he will not tolerate life in a security bubble cut off from ordinary people.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said security measures cannot be imposed on the pope.

“If the pope says, ‘I want to go greet these people’, the pope goes ahead, and the security people go along,” Lombardi said, adding that the bodyguards would have to “show flexibility”.

“This is something brand new” compared with the behaviour of Francis’s shy, reserved predecessor Benedict XVI, Lombardi said.

“You have to respect the pope’s personal style,” Lombardi said. “The security officials are aware that it is not they who are running the show but the pope, and they have to adjust to that.”

Responsibility for papal security is shared by about 100 Swiss Guards — the traditional papal security coterie — plus about 100 Vatican police and another 140 Italian police who maintain a round-the-clock patrol at the edges of the tiny city state.

Regardless of their charge’s personal style, security personnel must always seek a balance between access and protection.

Popes, at least in the modern age, have always been vulnerable at key moments when they minister to the faithful — notably when a general audience or a mass is held in St Peter’s Square or in the vast basilica.

Francis will set an enormous early test for his security detail on Tuesday when tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to pack the famous square for his inaugural mass — and he plans to weave his way among them for at least a quarter of an hour.

It was here that a right-wing Turkish extremist, Mehmet Ali Agca, shot John Paul II at close range in 1981, an assassination attempt that remains seared in the collective memory.

Like Francis, John Paul II also craved contact with the people, Lombardi noted.

“Everyone remembers how many times John Paul II broke the rules in order to meet people directly, even in situations that could be risky or unpredictable,” Lombardi said. “That was his style. He wanted to do that and had to be able to do that. Those in charge of security did the best they could.”

The attack prompted the addition of armoured plating and bulletproof glass to the iconic popemobile, and pilgrims wanting to attend the weekly general audience have had to pass through metal detectors ever since.

Lesser breaches have also led to new layers of security.

In June 2007 papal bodyguards had to overcome an apparently deranged German man who jumped a barricade and tried to board Benedict XVI’s white jeep, also in St Peter’s Square.

Security officers immediately wrestled the man to the ground.

Two years later, before the start of Christmas midnight mass in St Peter’s Basilica, a mentally unstable Swiss-Italian woman tackled Benedict, causing him to fall on the floor, though he quickly recovered.

On similar occasions following that incident, several more security agents could be seen flanking the pope along his path — widened to add more distance between him and the congregation.

“Security officials are at the service of the pope,” Lombardi said, adding that they will have to adapt “to the pastoral style that the pope uses”.

But they like to err on the side of caution when they can.

On Tuesday for Francis’s inaugural mass, at least 3,000 security personnel will be deployed including sharpshooters.

Hundreds of plainclothes officers are to be scattered within the expected crowd of a few hundred thousand people, filling St Peter’s Square as well as the main artery leading up to it.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHOD5EA75DBBUH53UKLRXRK764 Mang Teban

    Lunatics abound everywhere especially those who have a predisposition to attack anything about the Catholics, the Catholic Church, and, sparing no one, the Catholic pope. You can likened them to salivating jackals, deceptive wolves, and laughing hyenas. Well, in this PDI forum, you can find them with their daily malicious habit to write poisonous remarks meant to discredit the one and only Church established by the Redeemer, Christ Jesus. This observation has a basis and I seriously think that the Philippines is probably the most dangerous place for Pope Francis to visit. With the increasing re-awakening of Filipino Catholics who had gone to sleep and had been lukewarm to the faith, this is the time to pray fervently to our Lord God to preserve the unity and bond of fraternal love in the Church and to combat the threats to the reforms that shall be taking place soon. Those who care for peace in this planet, Catholics and non-Catholics, I urge you to pray for the protection of Pope Francis who many perceive to be the holy man of God sent to stop the growing tide of atheism and Satan’s legions infiltrating the minds and hearts of many people to lose faith in God.

    • MATONeeta

      bakla ka ba? tili ka kasi ng tili para kang naputulan ng ting&&L.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        Protestants…Crystal Clear FAKE!

        Is one religion as good as another? No!! The True religion calls evil, evil, and good, it calls good. The True Religion is instituted and founded by God, Truth Himself. The rest therefore are FAKE founded by human!

        Only the Catholic Church as founded by Christ continued by the apostles handed down to the succession of popes is the True Church! The TRUE Religion!

        The rest are FAKE!

      • WeAry_Bat

        mrs. clemen, you must take your medicines and refrain from post blasting from your home in the US.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        blasting what? anak ng kamote! anong denomination ka ng protestante?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        SOLA SCRIPTURA – Protestant Fundamentalist Born Again

        A twisted TRUTH!
        None of the other apostles taught sola scriptura. In fact,
        John said, “I have much to write to you, but I do not wish to write with pen and ink. Instead, I hope to see you soon when we can talk face to face” (3 John 13). Why would the apostle emphasize his preference for oral Tradition over written Tradition (a preference he reiterates in 2 John 12) if, as proponents of sola scriptura assert, Scripture is superior to oral Tradition?

      • GKLer

        John 5:46-47 (Jesus speaks)
        46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he WROTE about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he WROTE, how are you going to believe what I say?”

        Deuteronomy 34:10
        Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

      • Crazy_horse101010

        prove it hypocrite you cant you go by what your priest told you.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        prove? i guess it you who should prove your religion! parang kabute lang kayo, kahapon lang ata kayo nag umpisa ng religion nyo!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        if you cant trace your roots back to the apostles, we ll you can trace it back to the devil, Martin Luther!

      • Crazy_horse101010

        no but i can trace my roots back to my family in germany who were burnt at the stake because they had a castle on the rhine and the church wanted their property the ones who lived had to leave germany so i guess i can trace it to the devil

      • WeAry_Bat

        pre, kasama ko na si marionics nag head scratch over nitong character. hehe, pano ba yan, yung disqussion board natin palaging mey poste nitong peste hehe

    • Crazy_horse101010

      looking in the mirror again

  • UrHONOR

    >>>The new pope spent several minutes shaking hands and cuddling children, apparently taking as much time as he wanted, as security officials and Swiss Guards looked on nervously.<<<

    WHY get nervous? Isn't Francis guarded by the holy spirit? Why the need for security forces? Or is it just symbolical and metaphorical?

    • WeAry_Bat

      Direct divine intervention negates free will. Good and evil is still a choice man must decide.

      ill-logic, like the first poster in this article, is still somewhat debatable.

      EDIT: removed last lines as the first poster made a good comment regarding gambling on the editorial; a small sensible hope is still possible in that person.

      • UrHONOR

        BATTY! Neither here nor there.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

    Iglesia ni Cristo believes that Iglesia ni Cristo is the true church established by Jesus Christ, because the name Iglesia ni Cristo or Church of Christ is the name of the church that built by Christ that shown in Romans. 16:16.

    the official doctrines of the church profess that Jesus Christ is the founder of the INC[15] and that Felix Manalo was the last messenger, sent by God to re-establish the Christian Church to its true, pristine form because the original church (Catholic) was apostatized.

    Kawawa naman! Magaling nga maginterpret ng bible itong si Manalo!

    • Crazy_horse101010

      blah blah blah

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        ah…baka taga Dating Daan o Dating Doon! …pero mas okay un Dating Doon! Amen! Voltes V yun tugtog!

      • Crazy_horse101010

        haw haw haw what a joke

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        kumakain ka na naman ng damo!

      • Crazy_horse101010

        blah blah blah who in the hell cares about your babbling

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

    Inggitan ba sa reliyon? Ito pa ang isa!!! Kanya kanya gawa reliyon!

    Jesus is Lord Church (JILCW, also known as JIL Church, JIL Movement, or JIL, previously named JIL Fellowship) is a Charismatic movement in thePhilippines headed by founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

    JIL started with 15 members in 1978. As of 2010, members growth up to 6 million believers. Its world headquarter is located in Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines.

    This is private interpretation. Kanya kanya tyo ng reliyon. Bukas meron na naman bagong protestant religion ayon kay pastor siempre!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

    Ayaw pa awat kay Bro. Ely! Matindi to! Pastor Apollo Quiboloy —Appointed Son of GOD! <– anak ng tipaklong…pano nangyari ito!

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