Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Security Breach

A day before the Popemobile undergoes its annual conversion into a procession float for the Corpus Christi trek down Via Merulana, the papal ride almost got an unexpected passenger before this morning's General Audience:
The pope was not hurt and didn't even appear to notice that the man — who was between 20 or 30 years old — had jumped over the protective barrier in the square and had grabbed onto the white popemobile as it drove by. The pontiff kept waving to the crowd and didn't even look back.

At least eight security officers who were trailing the vehicle as it moved slowly through the square grabbed the man and wrestled him to the ground.

The man was a 27-year-old German who showed signs of "mental imbalance," said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

"His aim was not an attempt on the pope's life but to attract attention to himself," Lombardi told reporters.

The man, whom Lombardi declined to identify, was interrogated by Vatican police and then taken to a hospital for psyciatric treatment, he said.

The man wore a pink T-shirt and dark shorts, a beige baseball cap and sunglasses. He vaulted up and over the barricade from the second or third row back. He got as far as the back of the jeep, holding onto it for a few seconds, before being wrestled to the ground.

The jeep kept moving, and the German-born Benedict kept waving, then proceeded with the audience as if nothing had happened.
...and, once things got back on track, the talk turned to today's G8 opening in B16's native Germany, with a plea for increased aid to the world's poor:
Rich countries must increase their aid to the development of the world’s nations in need, by upholding the right to education which is the real platform for progress among peoples; the Church knows this well from its lengthy experience at the forefront in this field. This was Benedict XVI’s appeal to the leaders of the worlds industrial powers gathered in Germany for the annual G8 summit which opened today. The Pope has asked those gathered in Heligendamm to “maintain their promises to substantially increase development aid in favour of the world’s needy nations, above all those in Africa”.

“Special attention – he continued – needs to be paid to the millennium goals: to access to basic education for all; the promise that by 2015 every boy and girl will be able to complete a primary school cycle. This is a fundamental factor in achieving all of the other millennium goals. It is a guarantee of the consolidation of the objectives to be reached; it is the starting point for autonomous and sustainable development”.Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that the Catholic Church “has always been at the forefront of education” along with “other Christian churches, religious groups and civil organisations”. It is a reality – he added – which in line with the principal of subsidiarity, the governments and international organisations is called to recognise, evaluate and support, also by means of adequate financial contributions”.

Before his appeal, delivered to the 30 thousand pilgrims and visitors taking part in the audience, Benedict XVI spoke of the unity of the Church founded on Peter, and of the “heart” as “the place where God speaks to man and man listens to God”.

The two themes were discussed by the Pope in light of his reflections on the figure of Saint Cyprianus, the next in Benedict XVI’s cycle of catechesis on the early fathers of the Church.
As if the morning wasn't eventful enough, the wind in the Square proved a bit daunting for the capes on house cassocks... and Fluffy's wasn't immune.

...even for the Pope, you see, grace merely builds on nature.

PHOTO 2: AP/Plinio Lepri