Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Protecting the Pope ... from his fans

Fans Of The Pope Add New Security Challenge, by Nicole Neroulias. Religion News Service | PewForum.org March 31, 2008:

NEW YORK -- High-profile political leaders get Secret Service agents and police escorts to guard against assassins. Celebrities rely on bodyguards to shield them from overzealous fans.

When it comes to Pope Benedict XVI, who visits New York and Washington, D.C. April 15-20, both kinds of protection are equally needed.

"We work closely with the Vatican and the archdioceses to provide a comprehensive security plan, but we understand that millions of Catholics want to see him," said Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman. "It's always a balance we have."

Nicole interviews Ron Williams, a retired Secret Service agent who helped guard John Paul II:
"There's a different, euphoric atmosphere with the pope," he explained. "You've got to worry about mentally ill people, you've got to worry about Islamic radical fundamentalists, and on top of that, you've got to be concerned about people who just want to touch him and overwhelm the protective detail around him by loving him." ... [read more]
A thoroughly legitimate concern -- for example, as I recall, back in 2007, a mentally unstable German man leaped over a barricade and tried to jump into Pope Benedict's uncovered popemobile (Video).