Pope to shun bullet-proof vehicles during Brazil trip
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis will not use bullet-proof popemobiles on his visit to Brazil next week to allow him more direct contact with crowds despite the security risks, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
The Argentine pope, who arrives in Brazil on Monday for his first trip outside Italy, will use the same open-top jeeps he has preferred to use during his general audiences in St. Peter's Square to enable him to reach out and touch people.
"He feels that for him, communicating directly with the people is better that way," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told a news briefing. "He decided to do it this way because it is a continuity with the way he does it here."
The Vatican has a fleet of bullet-proof, glass-topped, air-conditioned vehicles for use by popes travelling outside Rome.
They were introduced after Pope John Paul II was nearly killed on May 13, 1981 when Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca shot him while he was riding in an open jeep in St Peter's Square.
Francis will spend a week in Rio de Janeiro to preside over the Catholic Church's World Day of Youth, a gathering sometimes dubbed a "Catholic Woodstock" that occurs in a different city every two years.
He will also visit the poor in a favela and meet young prisoners.
Francis, who has said he wants to make concern for the poor a hallmark of his papacy, will visit the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro on the fourth day of his trip to the world's largest Catholic country. Continued...