Quantcast
Latest Stories

Pope wants to be with people; clergy want him safe


In this photo provided by Prefeitura do Rio, Pope Francis waves from his popemobile in Rio de Janeiro, Monday. Questions were raised Tuesday about Pope Francis’ security during his seven-day trip in Brazil after a frantic crowd of faithful was able to surround and halt his car traveling from the airport to the city center, as well as an open-air vehicle on main avenues. AP

RIO DE JANEIRO — Pope Francis’ decision to shun a major security detail for his visit to Brazil exemplifies his view of what the Roman Catholic Church should be doing: Go out into the streets. Spread the faith. Recapture the dynamism that other denominations have been using to snap up souls.

Upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro this week, that philosophy helped produce a defining vignette of his young papacy: The pope rolling down the window to touch the adoring crowds who surrounded his Fiat as his driver and bodyguards struggled to get him on his way.

His call for a more missionary church, seeking out the faithful in the most marginal of places, will get even more traction Thursday when he visits one of Rio’s shantytowns, or favelas, and meets a family inside their home. But while his subordinates may appreciate that message, many are uneasy about the lengths he seems willing to go to deliver it.

“He’s used that phrase that we have to get out to the streets, we can’t stay locked up in our sacristies, we can’t be navel-gazing all the time,” U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in interview Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro.

Dolan, however, expressed concern over Monday’s swarm and said security might need to be tightened for Francis’ own good.

“I love him and I don’t want another conclave. We just finished one so we don’t need him to be hurt at all,” Dolan said.

Francis’ car was mobbed after the lead car in his motorcade made a wrong turn and got blocked by buses and taxis, enabling tens of thousands of frenzied Brazilians to surround him. But even along the planned route, there were few fences and no uniformed police or armed forces, as would be expected for a visiting head of state. Just a few dozen plainclothes Vatican and Brazilian security officers trotted alongside Francis’ car, at times unable to keep the crowds at bay.

Top Vatican officials met Tuesday with senior Brazilian officials to go over the pope’s security and made some changes: On Wednesday, Francis will use only the closed car when he travels in Rio to a hospital to meet with patients, rather than switch to the open-air car midway through as had been planned.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, insisted the change was taken merely to “simplify” the pope’s travel and was not a reflection of increased concern about his safety.

Brazilian security officials defended their handling of the pope’s tour through Rio, saying Tuesday that an evaluation of his arrival by federal police, the mayor’s office and highway police was “positive, since there was no incident involving the pope or with any of the faithful.”

Authorities in Brazil said earlier that about 10,000 police officers and more than 14,000 soldiers would take part in the overall papal security plan, but on Monday virtually no uniformed officers were seen.

Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Guard who protected Pope John Paul II from 1986 to 1988, said the scenes from Rio were reminiscent of some of the more hair-raising trips John Paul took, even after he was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square. He sees it as part of the pontiff’s job.

“Fundamentally one has to see that the pope is not like a president,” Widmer said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Boston. “You can shut the president in a house and he never sees any normal people. The pope’s office is a ministry, and a ministry cannot be impeded by security.”

“You cannot be pope and not see people,” Widmer said.

Sao Paulo Cardinal Odilo Scherer said that “nothing happened when the pope was stuck in traffic” and that “we shouldn’t exaggerate the psychosis of security” when it comes to protecting the pope.

It is Francis’ wish that his security not be “militarized,” Lombardi said.

Francis stopped to kiss babies and shake hands thrust into the window of his car, and once he reached Rio’s center, he switched to his open-air vehicle and drove right back into the crowds.

The moment was particularly unnerving in light of sometimes violent anti-government protests that have been going on across Brazil for a month. It also was embarrassing for security officials who are charged with keeping order during next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

“I was so surprised!” said the Rev. Joseph Tan, a priest from the Philippines who echoed the reaction of many in Rio for the papal visit.

“In the Philippines, people would have gathered to get a glimpse, but nothing like what we saw,” Tan said. “But that’s the pope’s personality. He was just being himself.”

Francis was dubbed the “slum pope” in his native Argentina for the amount of time he spent in dangerous areas while he was archbishop there. And in a speech that some say helped get him elected pope, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio told colleagues that the church must “move toward the peripheries, not only geographic but also existential.”

Francis is in Brazil for World Youth Day, a church event that takes place about every three years and brings together young Catholics from around the world.

A cold rain Tuesday night didn’t stop upward of 500,000 faithful from gathering on Rio’s Copacabana beach to mark the event. Clergy celebrated the opening Mass on a huge white stage covered with a bright red carpet as the crowd held aloft flags from dozens of nations.

But Rio’s woes didn’t stop: The city’s main subway lines ground to a halt for two hours, just before the Mass. Officials said an energy cable snapped in a main station.

The pope had no public events Tuesday. On Wednesday, he travels to Aparecida, where the governor said 1,800 police will provide security. Plans are for Francis to use his open-air popemobile for the one-kilometer (half-mile) trip from a helipad to the Aparecida basilica, where he’ll celebrate Mass.

He’s traveling to the town to venerate the Virgin of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint. About 200,000 faithful are expected to pack into the normally sleepy hamlet, where Francis is expected to greet crowds from a balcony.

Francis normally uses the open-air vehicle in St. Peter’s Square, which is ringed with Vatican and Italian police, and where the faithful are fenced into pens as bodyguards trail him. And despite the change to a closed car for the pope’s Wednesday drive in Rio, church officials gave no indication of any shift away from his plan to use the open popemobile in substantially less controlled conditions this week: at a welcome speech on Copacabana beach Thursday, a Way of the Cross procession Friday, and a weekend vigil and Mass in a rural part of Rio.

Lombardi said the pontiff decided not to use his bulletproof popemobile at those events so he could be closer to people and interact with them.

Security experts said the scene on Rio’s streets Monday show how challenging it is to strike the right balance in protecting the outgoing pope.

“From the point of view of a head of state, and the pope is a head of state, it’s unacceptable what happened,” said Paulo Storani, a Rio-based security consultant who spent nearly 30 years on the city’s police force and was a captain in an elite unit used to clear out slums. “On the other hand, in the case of a head of a church and having a charismatic figure like this pope, the situation is different because he wants to be close to the people.”

Ignacio Cano, a researcher at the Violence Analysis Center at Rio de Janeiro State University, said that although authorities would like to surround the pope with protection, that “goes against the message he wants to impart, which is one of simplicity, openness and approximation.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Brazil , Catholics , News , Pope Francis , Vatican , world




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
Advertisement

News

  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement