In statements to Italian magazine Policia Moderna [Modern Police], related to Italy’s security corps, the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, said that Pope Francis is one of the most influential men in the world and, at the same time, one of the most exposed and vulnerable.
Questioned about the threats directed by the Islamic State to Italy and the Vatican, the Commander admitted that “the threat exists,” adding that he knows this from the conversations I have with Italian and foreign colleagues.”
“One thing is the existence of a threat, another is the planning of an attack. At this moment I can say that we have no knowledge of plans to attack the Vatican or the Holy Father.”
In the interview, the Commander of the Gendarmerie, who has served three Popes, said that one of the most critical moments was Benedict XVI’s address at Regensburg on September 12, 2006. An address that, rereading it today, seems prophetic because he criticized the degeneration of a certain extremist Islam that sparked very strong protests against the Pope.”
Giani affirmed that there is good collaboration with the Muslim countries, from which “good information arrives and also testimonies of esteem and admiration of the Holy Father. I can say that today the Holy Father is seen and respected by Islam as the most influential moral authority in the world.”
In regard to the Gendarmerie’s state of alert, he explained: “The level of attention is constantly high. There are not only the threats of ISIS, but also the danger of solitary actions, which are more dangerous because they are unforeseeable. I am thinking of fanatics, or persons with mental problems, myth-makers, or simply individuals who might want to act in the Vatican to get media attention.”
Asked about how the “Pope lives this situation,” Commander Giani had no doubts: “The Holy Father is not thinking of giving up his direct style with the greatest possible number of people. And now, as Pontiff, he is a priest who does not want to lose contact with his flock.” Those in charge of the Pope’s security “must adapt” themselves to him “and not the other way around. We must do everything we can so that he can continue to carry out his ministry as he wishes and believes.”
In regard to the Pope’s residence in Domus Santa Marta, the Commander admitted that it is more dangerous because the Apostolic Palace is less accessible, but this is part of what the Holy Father has chosen and that he does not think of changing for a potential risk.
It is easier to protect Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, said Giani, because he is in a convent inside Vatican City, and because he takes only one walk daily in the Gardens, accompanied by gendarmes.
Giani considered it important that there are excellent relations between the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Italian Police.