Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican of the Italian State Police in a traditional New Year meeting this afternoon in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. Although Vatican City State has its own police force – the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps – this force cooperates closely with its Italian counterparts, and the Italian police help patrol St. Peter’s Square:
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THE HOLY FATHER’S WORDS
Mister Head of the Police,
Mister Prefect Bellesini,
Dear Functionaries and Agents!
This year, I am particularly happy to meet with you for our mutual exchange of good wishes for the New Year that just began. My warm greeting goes to you all, particularly to Doctor Maria Rosaria Maiorino, whom I thank for her courteous words. I greet the members of the Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican, as well as the other Directors and Functionaries of the State Police and the Chaplains led by the National Coordinator.
I wish to express to each of you my esteem and heartfelt gratitude for your generous service, not lacking in difficulties and risks. I know that you take risks. You are, in a certain sense, the “guardian angels” of Saint Peter’s Square. Every day, in fact, you preside over this special center of Christianity, and the other places of pertinence of the Vatican, with great solicitude, professionalism and sense of duty. Especially lately, you have demonstrated competence and courage in facing the many challenges and different dangers, committing yourselves with generosity in the prevention of crimes. Thus, you have rendered safe pilgrim’s access to the Basilica, as well as to meetings with the Successor of Peter. I thank you so much for all this! I thank you; these are not <just> words, they are from the heart! I know the effort of your work and the sacrifices you must face every day. Know that I appreciate it very much and often think of you and your precious work with sincere gratitude.
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, event of singular spiritual importance, witnessed in past months many pilgrims from all over the world flowing to Rome. You were also called to a greater operative commitment, so that the celebrations and events connected with the Jubilee could unfold in security and serenity. Thus the exterior order over which you watched with great diligence, attentive solicitude and constant availability, contributed to foster that interior order of pilgrims in search of peace in the encounter with the Lord’s mercy.
A short time ago, we concluded the Season of Christmas, in which we turned our gaze to Bethlehem, to that land and to that Family that became Jesus’ abode. Christmas spurred us once again to measure ourselves with the abasement of the Son of God, who willed to make Himself like us in everything, except sin, to make us understand with what love He has loved us and loves us. This incommensurable love is a constant invitation to be converted to hospitality, to solidarity and to forgiveness of our brothers. Thus we will be able to experience within us that peace which the Angels proclaimed at Bethlehem to men of goodwill.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord protect you in the fulfillment of the task you carry out in collaboration with the other Italian and Vatican Security Forces. May the Virgin Mary, tender Mother of Jesus and ours, assist you. In renewing to you my heartfelt appreciation for your work and for the tenacity and fidelity with which you carry it out, I ask you, please, to pray for me and from my heart I impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]