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Pope Francis Security Concerns as Social Pontiff Heads to Brazil

Image: Pope Francis Security Concerns as Social Pontiff Heads to Brazil

By David Ogul   |   Monday, 24 Jun 2013 02:55 PM

Pope Francis has a penchant for spontaneity, a trait that thrills followers and terrifies those in charge of his security, especially as the pontiff prepares for a visit to Brazil where more than 1 million people have broken out in protests on issues ranging from a boost in bus fares to concerns about corruption.

The down-to-earth spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics regularly strays from his security detail, treads beyond barricades and embraces weeping pilgrims.

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Back in April, Pope Francis was surprised to find a Swiss guard had stood all night outside his Vatican apartment. The pope offered him a chair, ordered the guard to sit and share some bread and jam with the stunned security officer, the International Business Times reported.

“We all have to rewrite the rules to account for his unpredictability,” Father Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, told The Daily Beast shortly after he was elected. “But thank God for a pope who keeps us guessing.”

The Pontiff is expected to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on July 22 for a nearly weeklong visit culminating with World Youth Day.

Brazil is planning to deploy up to 12,000 troops and 40,000 police officers to areas where the pope will greet up to 3 million Catholic youth from around the globe who are expected to attend the event, according to The Daily Beast. Officers from Brazil’s national security forces will guard the Pope 24 hours a day, but officials from Rome to Rio are becoming increasingly concerned over Francis’ fearlessness in interacting with the public.

Police in Brazil have used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up protests, not exactly the kind of welcome the country was hoping for in greeting the first Latin American pontiff in his first trip as pope to South America.

The faithful have taken to social networking sites such as Twitter to express their concern and admiration, along with a touch of humor.

“God is powerful, but apparently not powerful enough that the pope needs a security team and bullet proof vehicles,” wrote @Sir­_Stroker.

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Pope Francis has a penchant for spontaneity, a trait that thrills followers and terrifies those in charge of his security, especially as the pontiff prepares for a visit to protest-laden Brazil.
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