FEATURE: ‘May the Lord Reward You As Only He Knows How,’ Pope Francis Praises Police Inspectorate Which Protects Vatican on Its 75th Anniversary

Thanking Vatican Inspectorate of Public Security for Precious Service, Reminds Them to Transmit Faith to Children & Continue Aspiring to Highest Values

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Pope Francis,  this morning, Sept. 28, 2020, was in the midst of the largest (but safely following protocols) gathering since the COVID outbreak, and for a joyous occasion: the ceremony to commemorate the 75-year anniversary of the institution of the Inspectorate of the Public Security of the Vatican.
ZENIT’s Senior Vatican Correspondent was invited as the Vatican’s Paul VI welcomed a smiling, and warm Pope Francis, following a morning of talented tenors (including a former police officer), and the official police chorus, which performed ‘America, the Beautiful’ among many other beloved songs.

The General Audiences in September have taken place with faithful in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, which accommodates roughly 500 people. Today’s event gathered a couple thousand masked invitees and officials. Everyone attending had to maintain proper social distancing, sanitize hands, have temperatures taken and pass through security clearance.

The Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese and the Chief of Police, Franco Gabrielli, were present, and the Pope gave them and other police officials, special greetings.

Upon reaching the stage, Pope Francis immediately interjected: “And I would also like to thank you because it was lovely for me to enter the Hall with the nostalgia of the Buenos Aires autumn [he was referring to a musical passage played by the Band of the Police]. Thank you!”

Francis remembered the foundation of this Inspectorate, saying it comes spontaneously “to thank the Lord for the 75 years of history and for the work of so many men and women of the Italian State Police.”

“In the wake of the profound bond that exists between the Holy See and Italy, they have carried out competently and passionately, a mission that draws its origin from the Lateran Pacts of 1929.  In fact, in sanctioning the birth of Vatican City State,” he remembered, “those Agreements provided a peculiar regime for Saint Peter’s Square, with free access for pilgrims and tourists and under the vigilance of the Italian Authorities.”

“Dear Functionaries and Agents, I thank you so much for your precious service, characterized by diligence, professionalism and a spirit of sacrifice,” the Pope said, thanking:  “I admire especially the patience you exercise in having to deal with priests!”

Francis also thanked them for accompanying him whenever he travels in Rome and during visits to dioceses or communities in Italy — “a difficult undertaking, which requires discretion and balance, so that the Pope’s itineraries do not lose their specific character of encounter with the People of God. For all this I am, once again, grateful to you.”

“May the Inspectorate of the “Vatican’s” Public Security be able to continue operating in keeping with its luminous history, being able to draw from it new and abundant fruits.”

Francis said he is certain that to work in this place “constitutes for you a constant call to the highest values: to those human and spiritual values that require every day being received and witnessed. I hope that your effort, carried out not rarely with sacrifice and risks, is animated by a lively Christian faith.”

The ‘Christian faith,’ he told them, “is the most precious spiritual treasure, which your families have entrusted to you and which you are called to transmit to your children.”

May the Lord reward you as only He knows how. May your Patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, protect you and may the Holy Virgin watch over you and your families.

Following the audience, Francis gave some final greetings, and even greeting some of the chorus, he graciously gave them a little bow and warm smile.

Below one can read the Vatican’s unofficial working translation of the full text of the Pope’s address to the Inspectorate:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I am happy to meet with the great family of the “Vatican” Inspectorate of Public Security, which observes the 75th anniversary of its institution. I greet you all affectionately: Directors, Functionaries and Agents with the members of your family. A deferent thought goes to the Minister of the Interior, whom I thank for her words, as well as to Mister Chief of the Police. And I would also like to thank you because it was lovely for me to enter the Hall with the nostalgia of the Buenos Aires autumn [he was referring to a musical passage played by the Band of the Police]. Thank you!

In remembering the foundation of this Inspectorate, it comes spontaneously to thank the Lord for the 75 years of history and for the work of so many men and women of the Italian State Police. In the wake of the profound bond that exists between the Holy See and Italy, they have carried out competently and passionately, a mission that draws its origin from the Lateran Pacts of 1929.  In fact, in sanctioning the birth of Vatican City State, those Agreements provided a peculiar regime for Saint Peter’s Square, with free access for pilgrims and tourists and under the vigilance of the Italian Authorities.

Looking back, one sees how the origin of the “Vatican” Inspectorate of Public Security is situated in a context of precariousness and national emergency, when the political and social forces were committed to democratic recovery.  In March of 1945 the project was concretized to give autonomy and juridical configuration to this police service. The Minister of the Interior, guided by the President himself of the Council of Ministers, Ivanoe Bonomi, instituted the “St. Peter” Special Office of Public Security. Thus the service, which the police forces had carried out for a long time in Saint Peter’s Square and in neighbouring areas of the Vatican, was reinforced and made more effective.

The occupation of Rome by German troops in 1943 created not a few difficulties and concerns: the problem arose of respect on the part of German soldiers of the neutrality and sovereignty of Vatican City, as well as of the person of the Pope. For nine months, the border between the Italian State and Vatican City, traced on the pavement of Saint Peter’s Square, was a place of tensions and fears. The faithful could not easily access the Basilica to pray, so many desisted.

Finally, on June 4, 1944, Rome was liberated, but the War left profound wounds in consciences, rubble in the streets, poverty and suffering in families. This is the fruit of war. Romans, and those pilgrims who could reach the capital, came in ever greater numbers to Saint Peter’s, to express gratitude also to Pope Pius XII, proclaimed “Defensor Civitatis.” The new Office of the State Police at the Vatican was thus able to respond adequately to the new needs ads render an important service, be it to Italy be it to the Holy See.

From the day of the institution of the Office, which little by little assumed other denominations up to the present one, it unfolded a path in the sign of a profitable collaboration between Italy and the Holy See, and between the Inspectorate and the Vatican organizations in charge of public order and the Pope’s security. Despite the changing national and international scenes and the security needs, the spirit did not change with which men and women of the Inspectorate carried out their appreciated work.

Dear Functionaries and Agents, I thank you so much for your precious service, characterized by diligence, professionalism and a spirit of sacrifice. I admire especially the patience you exercise in having to deal with priests! My gratitude is also extended for your commitment to accompany me while travelling in Rome and during visits to dioceses or communities in Italy — a difficult undertaking, which requires discretion and balance, so that the Pope’s itineraries do not lose their specific character of encounter with the People of God. For all this I am, once again, grateful to you.

May the Inspectorate of the “Vatican’s” Public Security be able to continue operating in keeping with its luminous history, being able to draw from it new and abundant fruits. I am certain that to work in this place constitutes for you a constant call to the highest values: to those human and spiritual values that require every day being received and witnessed. I hope that your effort, carried out not rarely with sacrifice and risks, is animated by a lively Christian faith: that is the most precious spiritual treasure, which your families have entrusted to you and which you are called to transmit to your children.

May the Lord reward you as only He knows how. May your Patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, protect you and may the Holy Virgin watch over you and your families. My Blessing also accompanies you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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