Pope has precedence over security concerns says Vatican

Vatican Spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi has insisted Pope Francis’ bodyguards show flexibility when the pope embarks on impromptu walkabouts.

“If the pope says, ‘I want to go greet these people’, the pope goes ahead, and the security people go along,” said Lombardi

“This is something brand new.”

“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.”

“Security detail in fibrillation, faithful delirious” is how the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano described the scene as finding himself near a Vatican exit and hearing people chanting his name outside, Pope Francis responded with an impromptu walkabout that looks set to become a frequent occurrence.

“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.”

Lombardi acknowledged that security personnel naturally like to err on the side of caution when they can, but Lombardi is adamant that security officials are at the service of the pope and they will need to adapt to Pope Franics’ style.

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.

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



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