By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Thursday met members of Italy’s state police in charge of security in and around St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican and thanked them for their “precious work of security and public order” to pilgrims and tourists from all over the world during their visit to St Peter's Basilica.
In his traditional new year meeting with the officials and personnel of the “Ispettorato di Pubblica Sicurezza
Christmas, Epiphany - charity, fraternity, mercy
Recalling Christmas and Epiphany, the Holy Father expressed his “sincere good wishes for a new year rich in human and Christian values that make life beautiful and fruitful.”
He said that the unthinkable closeness of God to man and the immense love He has for us gives meaning to our lives and stimulates us to hope, helping us to look beyond the difficulties and problems of every day. “At the same time,” he said, “it impels us to charity, to live our relationships with a fraternal and merciful attitude, especially with people who suffer from sickness, abandonment and marginalization.”
Professionalism, generosity, sacrifice
While expressing his gratitude for their professionalism and generosity, the Pope encouraged the Italian police to persevere and seek the best in their work, striving to welcome everyone with patience and understanding, even in those moments when they feel tired or weighed down by unpleasant situations. Expressing his admiration for them he said he was edified by their availability and spirit of sacrifice. He said their service is an effective collaboration in his pastoral visits to the parishes and other communities of Rome, as well as his trips to other places in Italy.
The Pope also exhorted the Italian police to safeguard the cultural roots of Rome and the country, saying these roots are what gives us an identity that needs to be passed on to our children and grandchildren.
The Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican was established in 1929 when the Vatican and the Italian government signed the Lateran Pacts formally recognizing the Vatican's independence. Since the Vatican is surrounded by Italian territory, the agreement allowed Italian police to provide for the Pope's security when he leaves Vatican City.
The Italian police guarantee and coordinate all armed escort for the Pope, some top Vatican officials and important heads of state every time they leave or head to the Vatican. The Italian police also provide security and law enforcement in St. Peter's Square and the entrance area of the Vatican Museums.
Two other separate entities also cooperate to keep watch over the Pope and the Vatican – the colourful Swiss Guards and the Corps of Gendarmes of Vatican City State, which is the Vatican’s own police force.