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Swiss Guard: Pope 'Always Has the Last Word' on Security

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By    |   Friday, 18 Sep 2015 09:08 PM

Pope Francis' historic visit to the United States poses nightmarish security risks, but the crowd-loving Pontiff "always has the last word" on moving through the masses that surround him wherever he goes, CBS' "60 Minutes" reports.

In an interview with correspondent Scott Pelley to be aired Sunday, Urs Breitenmoser, a sergeant in the Swiss Guard, says the Pope's bodyguards must protect him, but "cannot be a wall around him."

"As he is a pastor, he loves to be a pastor, he needs the contact with people," Breitenmoser tells Pelley. "It is very personal, very human and for us it's an awesome experience."

A transcript
and video clip of the interview was released Friday by CBS News.

Story continues below video.


Breitenmoser said the Swiss Guard had tried "at the beginning" to keep the Pope, for his own safety, from wading into crowds that come to see – and be near – him.

"We tried at the beginning, we tried," Breitenmoser tells Pelley. "But he was saying always, he always has the last word. We were discussing about security and safety problems, but he also needs to do his ministry as a pastor."

The irrepressible Pontiff explains simply to Pelley that his goal in coming to America is "to meet people."

But that's exactly what makes his protection such a challenge, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells Newsmax TV.

"The UN General Assembly is happening at the same time, but this is something that happens every year in New York — 135 heads of state, give or take a few," Kelly said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show."

"His movements will be limited. However, he is a walker, which compounds the problem. He certainly is mobile and he wants to meet the people."

The pope's openness also has federal security officials concerned.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have designated events involving Pope Francis' visit to America as attractive targets for terror groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida. No specific threats are known, the agencies add.

The agencies also consider the Papal visit "a powerful motivator for groups or individuals with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian viewpoints" who could justify attacks on religious grounds.

Francis' schedule will include an open-air Mass in Philadelphia expected to draw more than one million people, a procession through New York's sprawling – and crowded – Central Park, as well as a Mass at the cavernous Madison Square Garden.

All of the Pope's events have been classified as "National Special Security Events" by the FBI and DHS, according to CNN, requiring extensive coordination and planning.

The agencies, in a bulletin, added some recent arrests of potential terrorists in the United States raises concerns about potential lone-wolf attacks "because of the difficulty in discovering such individuals or independent groups until they are operational."

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Pope Francis' historic visit to the United States poses nightmarish security risks, but the crowd-loving Pontiff "always has the last word" on moving through the masses that surround him wherever he goes, CBS' "60 Minutes" reports.
pope, francis, security, detail
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2015-08-18
Friday, 18 Sep 2015 09:08 PM
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