WASHINGTON, June 14, 2014 — Pope Francis is leaving himself in God’s caring hands.
Amid concerns for his safety, the “people’s Pope” is creating concerns for his security as he prefers to travel in the open car, so that he can connect to the people that rush to see him.
Pope Francis follows his own drummer and he has been busy. In a recent interview with La Vanguardia, the 77-year-old pope said that economy built on money-worship and war and scarred by yawning inequality and youth unemployment cannot survive.
“Our world economic system can’t take it anymore,” says the Bishop of Rome in an interview with La Vanguardia. “I’m no illumined one. I didn’t bring any personal projects under my arm.” “We are throwing away an entire generation to maintain a system that isn’t good,” he opines with respect to unemployed youth.
The interview was held after Francis played conciliator to Israel’s Shimon Peres and Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas on the lawn of the Vatican gardens. Together they shared in Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers for peace, showing by example that these religions can mutually coexist.
Francis said in interviews that he hopes to “open a window to the world.”
One subject discussed by Francis and Peres was Pope Pius XII and the actions of the Vactican during the Holocaust. Francis, considered a friend to all, defended the WWII pope, saying that the Vatican did offer shelter to the Jews.
“What worries me regarding this subject is the figure of Pius XII, the Pope that led the Church during World War II. They have said all sorts of things about poor Pius XII. But we need to remember that before he was seen as the great defender of the Jews. He hid many in convents in Rome and in other Italian cities, and also in the residence of Castel Gandolfo. Forty-two babies, children of Jews and other persecuted who sought refuge there were born there, in the Pope’s room, in his own bed. I don’t want to say that Pius XII did not make any mistakes — I myself make many — but one needs to see his role in the context of the time. For example, was it better for him not to speak so that more Jews would not be killed or for him to speak?”
“I also want to say that sometimes I get “existential hives” when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers. Did you know that they knew the rail network of the Nazis perfectly well to take the Jews to concentration camps? They had the pictures. But they did not bomb those railroad tracks. Why? It would be best if we spoke a bit about everything.”
Pope Francis has plans to open the Papal Archives surrounding this time in history at a later day stating that it is best that it be out in the open.
Pope Francis has brought other changes to his papacy. He was named Esquire Magazine’s Best Dressed Man of 2013 even as he reduced the excessive costs of hand made lace, velvet and gold trim adornments and expensive fabrics for his wardrobe. Pope Frances also wears a plain metal cross, versus the more expensive gold and gold-plated crosses worn by previous pontiffs and bishops.
The Popemobile, previously used by Pope Benedict XVI, is a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility vehicle. Modifications include a special glass-enclosed room, with its own oxygen supply, that has been built into the back of the vehicle. The glass enclosure is accessed through the back of the vehicle. Once seated in the white leather with gold trimmed chair, the seat elevates so that he can be more easily see by the throngs that attend the pope’s every movement.
The vehicle’s security features include bulletproof plexiglas windows and roof, reinforced, armoured side panels, and an undercarriage designed to resist bomb blasts. The security enhanced vehicle was introduced after the attempted assassination of John Paul II in St Peter’s Square in 1981. The Popemobile just might be able to race the Batmobile through the streets of Rome, as it is capable of reaching speeds up to 160 miles per hour.
Pope Francis prefers a much more modest, open topped car. He says he is unable to properly greet people inside the custom-built “sardine can”, remarking that, “At my age I do not have much to lose”.
“I know what could happen, but it is in God’s hands,” he said.
“I remember in Brazil, they’d provided for me an enclosed Popemobile, but I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is made of glass. For me it is a wall.”
Vatican officials are said to have voiced fears for his safety during his recent trip to the Holy Land, which involved public appearances in Jordan, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Others concerns arose during a week-long trip to Rio de Janeiro last July when the pope rode in an open-topped white jeep along the sea front of Copacabana beach.
Read the full text of the interview here