Security official guarantees Pope's safety


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Vatican City, Jan 8, 2010 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- Security official Salvatore Festa, who coordinates activity between the Italian police who serve at the Vatican and Holy See officials, guaranteed Pope Benedict's security, as new measures have been taken following the Christmas Eve incident in which the Pope was pulled to the ground by a disturbed woman.

In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, Festa recalled that during the Christmas Eve Mass, measures were immediately taken to protect the Pontiff when the young Swiss woman, Susana Maiolo lunged at the Holy Father.

Festa noted that Vatican official Domenico Giani reacted immediately to the situation.

Speaking later about the special training provided to those who protect the Holy Father, Festa explained that the first thing the security guards are taught "has to do with guaranteeing the Pope's security without keeping him from fulfilling his mission to the people."

"You cannot keep the Pope from approaching the railings to greet or bless those who seek or call out to him. For this reason, his closest agents receive a specific kind of training."

These members of the security team periodically receive updated training sessions to learn new safety techniques, Festa explained, thus ensuring that the Pope is provided the best protection possible.

In response to a question about persons who wish to harm Pope Benedict XVI, Festa explained that a second tier of undercover security agents are specially trained to spot dangerous order to intervene rapidly under any circumstances."

Festa also noted that security agents who control the entrances into St. Peter's Square and operate the metal detectors "receive special instruction on how to identify every object that is scanned, even if the most sophisticated techniques are used to camouflage it." He added that so far, no weapons have been found among those in attendance.