Vatican has said it is impossible to protect the Pope from
incidents like that on Thursday night, when a woman grabbed
him at Christmas Eve Mass.
Spokesman Frederico Lombardi said the Pope was regularly
surrounded by tens of thousands of people at audiences,
Masses, greetings and other events.
He said it was unthinkable to create a wall between the
Pope and the faithful.
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, himself recently attacked in
public, warned of “hatred and extremism.”
The Pope was not injured when Susanna Maiolo, 25, hurled
herself at him in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican but an
elderly French cardinal standing nearby, Roger Etchegaray,
suffered a broken hip.
The woman, who tried to throw herself at Benedict at the
same Christmas Eve service one year ago, is now receiving
psychiatric treatment and Lombardi said he thought she would
be dealt with very leniently by the Vatican.
‘No hurt intended’
Father Lombardi said it was not realistic to think the
Vatican could ensure 100% security for the Pope and that
security guards appeared to have acted as quickly as
“It seems that they intervened at the earliest possible
moment in a situation in which zero risk cannot be
achieved,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
“People want to see him up close and he’s pleased to see
them closely too. A zero risk doesn’t seem realistic in a
situation in which there’s a direct rapport with the
Vatican security officials would, the spokesman added,
nonetheless review the episode and “try to learn from
Berlusconi, who is recovering from a violent attack in
Milan earlier in the month, spoke to Italian TV after the
attack on the Pope.
“We must really fight back against all these manufacturers
of lies, extremism and hatred,” he said.
It is still unclear what had motivated Ms Maiolo, who holds
dual Swiss and Italian nationality.
She told doctors she had not wanted to hurt the pontiff,
Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper said in a report on its
The same paper quoted Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco,
Archbishop of Genoa and head of the Italian bishops’
conference, as saying: “Nothing serious happened. It was a
woman who tried to greet the Holy Father.”
However, French Cardinal Paul Poupard, who was with the
pontiff at the time of the incident, said it had been
“definitely a threat to the Pope.”
“With hindsight, you would say greater vigilance was
needed, so those in charge of security should not let their
guard drop even for a second,” he added.
The Pope is protected by a combination of Swiss Guards,
Vatican Police and Italian Police.
The most serious attack on a Pope in modern times was that
on Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, who was shot and
seriously wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981
as he rode in an open jeep in the Vatican.
Pope Benedict delivered his traditional Christmas message at
the Vatican on Friday, appearing undaunted by the earlier
|Israeli troops have killed six Palestinians - three in
the Gaza Strip and three in the West Bank.
The Israeli military said three Palestinians suspected of
trying to infiltrate from Gaza were killed in an air strike
near the Erez crossing.
It is the largest number of deaths in a day since the
Gaza conflict a year ago.
Separately, Israeli forces said they had killed three men -
who were suspected of killing a Jewish settler - in the West
Bank city of Nablus.
Palestinian sources in Nablus say two of those killed
were militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the
militant faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas’s Fatah party.
The faction was one of two groups which said they had killed
the settler, a father of seven, two days ago - the first
fatal shooting of an Israeli by militants in the occupied
West Bank for eight months.
Eyewitnesses said the Israeli raid began in the early
hours of the morning and lasted for several hours.
They said there had not been a raid like this in Nablus for
about a year and a half, the BBC’s Bethany Bell reports from
The violence came a day before the first anniversary of the
Gaza war that killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13
|A fire on board a Greek cargo ship off the Caribbean
coast of Venezuela has killed nine members of the crew.
The blaze reportedly broke out early on Friday in an engine
room of the Aegean Wind and spread upwards.
The vessel, which was carrying iron ore from Brazil to
Texas, was about 160km (100 miles) north of Venezuela, near
Venezuela’s navy helped in the rescue. Five injured
people were airlifted and taken to hospital on the mainland.
Admiral Carlos Maximo Aniasi, commander of Venezuela’s navy,
said the blaze had spread upward on the vessel which had a
“Nine bodies were found in different compartments of the
Greek ship,” he told Venezuelan state media.
The bodies belonged to nine sailors - six Filipinos and
three Greeks - reported missing earlier in the day.
Two Philippine nationals suffered third-degree burns on
their face and hands and three Greek crewmates had less
severe burns, said Rafael Lugo, the national commander of
Venezuela’s Maritime Rescue and Aid service.
The 10 surviving crew members, including a woman, were on
the deck, Lugo told Reuters news agency.
The cause of the blaze was unknown and the Aegean Sea would
be towed to Margarita, Adm Aniasi added.