Francis accepts risk of giving up Popemobile to get closer to faithful
Pope Francis, famous for his populist touch, has also demonstrated a fatalist streak in eschewing use of the bullet-proof Popemobile, designed to protect him from attacks of the type that almost killed Pope John Paul II.
“I know that anything can happen to me, but it’s all in God’s hands,” the Pope told a Spanish newspaper. “I remember that in Brazil, they had prepared a Popemobile closed with glass. But I cannot greet people and tell him that I love them from inside a sardine can, even if it is crystal.
“This is a wall. It is true that something can happen to me but, let’s be realistic, at my age I don’t have much to lose.”
The 77-year-old Argentinian Pontiff’s preference for open-topped vehicles is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who always rode in the enclosed vehicle – a security measure introduced after the attempted assassination of John Paul II in St Peter’s Square in 1981.
Vatican officials were said to have voiced their fears for Pope Francis’s safety during last month’s trip to the Holy Land, which involved public appearances in Jordan, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
But it was in his ground-breaking and hugely popular week-long stay in Rio de Janeiro last July that Pope Francis first signalled his intention to get closer to the faithful, if necessary at the expense of security. The Pontiff toured a favela and rode in an open-topped white jeep along the sea front of Copacabana beach while visiting the Brazilian city for the week-long World Youth Day festival.
Ahead of the tour the Vatican announced the Pope would be using the same open-topped car he uses when cruising around St. Peter’s Square. “It’s in continuity with what he does here,” the Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said then. “He feels good to be in close communication with the environs around him and this car lets him get on and off.”
But the Brazilian trip was not without incident. While being driven in a Fiat car from the airport to downtown Rio de Janeiro, the vehicle became pinned between a bus and a crush of well-wishers who were reaching into the car to touch the Pope. Security was stepped up after that incident.
Since the attempted murder of Pope John Paul II by Mehmet Ali Agca, reigning heads of the Catholic Church customarily used the custom-made glass-sided Popemobile when appearing in public.
But even when Francis does agree to use the Popemobile, he has a tendency to alter the schedule. During John Paul II’s canonisation ceremony on 27 April this year, the Pontiff ordered the driver of his armoured vehicle to continue beyond St Peter’s Square in order to see as many of the faithful as possible.
In an interview with La Vanguardia, Pope Francis once again praised the decision by his predecessor, Benedict, to resign last year rather than die in office, as has been the tradition for centuries. Benedict, 87, now lives in a former convent within the walls of the Vatican City state.
“Benedict made a great gesture. He opened a door, he created an institution, that of eventual emeritus popes,” Pope Francis said, suggesting he, too, might one day choose the title of emeritus Pope.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...