Pope Benedict XVI faces German accuser: "He didn't wear a seatbelt"
Should the pontiff have been a better public safety example?
Berlin, Freiburg and Erfurt — moving through the enormous crowds greeting their native son in his Mercedes “Popemobile.”
A Germany court quashed the complaint, acknowledging that Germany requires all car occupants to wear seat belts, but that law doesn’t apply to occupants of parade floats. The pope was exempt since his vehicle was moving at extremely slow speeds on closed public streets lined by crowds there to catch a glimpse of the first German-born pope since medieval times.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the legal charges had provoked “curiosity and smiles of amusement” in Rome, “beginning with the Pope himself.”
He said the question of Benedict XVI wearing a seat belt in the Popemobile actually had been discussed, but that the vehicle moves very slowly and it was decided the pontiff should not be restricted as he “turns continually to the right and to the left to greet and bless the faithful.”
“Often he gets up and takes in his arms babies to bless, to the joy of the parents and everyone present,” said Lombardi. “All these gestures presume a certain freedom of movement.”
He said Benedict was “grateful for the affectionate concern for the Pope’s safety.”