Pope Francis greeted the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican of the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) in a traditional new year meeting on Friday. 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.
In his address, Francis expressed his gratitude to all of them for
their generous service, not without difficulties and risks. “I know that
you run risks”, he said. “You are, in a certain sense, the ‘guardian
angels’ of St. Peter’s Square. Indeed, every day you keep watch over
this peculiar centre of Christianity, and other relevant areas of the
Vatican, with great care, professionalism and a sense of duty. And
especially in these recent times, you have shown competence and courage
in facing the many challenges and various dangers, working with
generosity in the prevention of crimes. In this way you have ensured
safe access for pilgrims to the Basilica and to meetings with Peter’s
Successor. For all this I thank you. I thank you: they are not merely
words, these, they come from the heart. Thank you! I know the hardships
of your work and the sacrifices that you must make every day. Know that I
appreciate you greatly and often think with sincere gratitude of you
and your valuable work”.
“The extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, an event of unique spiritual
significance, has seen many pilgrims flock to Rome from all over the
world in recent months. You too have been required to make greater
efforts in your work, to ensure that the celebrations and events
connected with the Jubilee were able to take place in safety and
serenity. The external order over which you kept watch with great
diligence, thoughtful care and constant willingness, thus contributed to
fostering inner calm in pilgrims in search of peace in their encounter
with the Lord’s mercy”.
The Pope recalled that the Christmas celebrations came to an end just
a short while ago, in which “we turned our gaze to Bethlehem, to that
land and that family who became Jesus’ dwelling. Christmas urges us to
measure ourselves, once again, with the lowering of the Son of God, Who
wished to make Himself similar to us in everything other than sin, to
make us understand the love with which He loved, and loves, us. This
immeasurable love is a constant invitation to turn to acceptance,
solidarity and forgiveness of our brothers. In this way we will be able
to experience within ourselves that peace that the angels in Bethlehem
proclaimed to men of good will”.
The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord to protect those present
and commending them to the Virgin Mary, and reiterating his gratitude
for the tenacity and fidelity with which they perform their work. “I ask
you to pray for me, and impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing”.