Thursday, January 17, 2013

Holy Crime Fighters: Prayer handy for Vatican beat, says police chief

Spirit and prayer come in handy for the "delicate" and unique mission of helping protect the pope and maintain law and order on the Vatican's perimeter, said the head of an Italian police force's special unit.

Performing police and security duties "in the heart of Christianity" is a one-of-a-kind operation, Enrico Avola, general director of the Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican, told Pope Benedict XVI during a special papal audience with the police force Jan. 14.

It's like following the Rule of Benedict where work and prayer merge in perfect harmony, which is not easy given that police work means having to face "evil in its most varied expressions: from crime to the violence of terrorism, to desperation or even simply the folly of insane and fanatical people," he said.

The chief inspector's comments came one day after his officers had to restrain and forcibly carry away four young women who had stripped down to bare torsos to protest the church's stance against same-sex marriage. Avola did not mention the incident in his speech to the pope.

The Italian police officers are in charge of providing security and law enforcement in St. Peter's Square and the entrance area of the Vatican Museums.

The special Italian police unit also guarantees and coordinates all armed escort for the pope, some top Vatican officials and important heads of state every time they leave or head to the Vatican.

The pope told them in his speech, "May your presence always be a more effective guarantee of that good order and tranquility, which are crucial for building a peaceful social life, and that, in addition to being taught by the Gospel, are a sign of authentic civility."

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