Pope trust­ing in God’s mercy for pro­tec­tion amid se­cu­rity risks

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis says he re­alises he may be the tar­get of an at­tack but will con­tinue to travel with­out bul­let­proof ve­hi­cles or heavy se­cu­rity be­cause he wants to get close to peo­ple.

Un­like his pre­de­ces­sors, who used bul­let­proof pope­mo­biles or lim­ou­sines, Fran­cis uses or­di­nary cars on in­ter­na­tional trips, of­ten in con­trast to the lead­ers who greet him.

“I am aware of the risks in­volved,” he said in the in­tro­duc­tion to a new book by Ital­ian au­thor An­drea Tornielli.

“Maybe I’m reck­less but I must say I don’t have any fear for my­self but I’m al­ways wor­ried about the safety of those who travel with me and above all that of the peo­ple I meet in var­i­ous coun­tries. There is al­ways the risk of a rash ges­ture by a mad­man. But the Lord is al­ways there,” he said.

The book, called Trav­el­ling, is about the 17 trips to more than 25 coun­tries out­side Italy that Fran­cis has made since his elec­tion in 2013. He is ex­pected to make at least two in­ter­na­tional trips this year, one to Por­tu­gal, and an­other to In­dia and Bangladesh.

“I can’t bring my­self to move around in bul­let­proof cars or in closed pope­mo­biles with bul­let­proof glass,” he said.

In Brazil in 2013, his small car was swamped after the driver took a wrong turn.

“I fully un­der­stand the needs of se­cu­rity and am grate­ful (to se­cu­rity forces) but a bishop is a pas­tor, a fa­ther, and there can­not be too many bar­ri­ers be­tween him and the peo­ple,” he said.

“Be­cause of this, I said from the start that I would travel only if I could have contact with peo­ple.”

Ital­ian po­lice have no­tably in­creased se­cu­rity in the area around the Vat­i­can fol­low­ing at­tacks by Is­lamist ex­trem­ists in Europe.

But Fran­cis uses a blue Ford Fo­cus when in Rome and in­sists on light, low-key se­cu­rity. – Reuters

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