By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Saturday met representatives of Italy’s state police in charge of security and law enforcement in and around St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican and thanked them for their “daily service, carried out in praiseworthy fashion” and for the “spirit which animates it”.
The Pope traditionally meets the officials and personnel of the “Ispettorato di Pubblica Sicurezza presso il Vaticano” (Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican) at the start of the new year.
“The year 2020 is already well underway, but I would also like to offer you my best wishes for this year that the Lord gives us,” the Pope told the group, wishing them “a time of serenity and peace” for them and their families.
The Pope noted that the service of the Ispettorato has “a special meaning and value”, as it is “not easy to relate every day to the tourists and pilgrims who visit St Peter's Square and Basilica and the Vatican Museums, or who come to meet the Pope”. The police, he said, are called to combine the needs of visitors with the indispensable rules of public order and the tranquil unfolding of life around Vatican City and the places sacred to the Catholic faith.
The Italian police guarantee and coordinate all armed escort for the Pope when he leaves Vatican City.
Pope Francis said he has personally witnessed their “discreet, attentive and effective presence” during his pastoral visits to Rome and Italy in the exercise of his ministry. “Effective and attentive but discreet,” the Pope emphasized, saying it speaks of their high human quality, for which he thanked them.
Love for Apostolic See
“Your work, besides competence and professionalism, shows sincere love and faithful attachment to the Apostolic See,” the Pope said, expressing his gratitude. This praiseworthy service, he said, is made more effective and meritorious in cooperation with the Vatican Gendarmerie.
The Holy Father concluded with the hope that their daily commitment, which is sometimes risky, be always “animated by the flame of faith, hope and charity”. “A humble, simple but genuine flame.”
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 entrusts the Italian police with 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.
Two other separate security entities also cooperate to ensure security to the Pope and the Vatican – the colourfully dressed Swiss Guards and the Vatican Gendarmerie, which is the Vatican’s own police force.