Beliefnet News

Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

Vatican City – A German court has ordered four years’ probation, psychotherapy and medication for a 28-year-old man who last year jumped a barricade and briefly touched a vehicle carrying Pope Benedict XVI.
The German man, whose identity was not released, was also ordered “categorically” to abstain from alcohol and drug consumption — monitored and verified by urine tests, The Associated Press reported.
In June 2007, the man was one of an estimated 40,000 people gathered for a papal audience in St. Peter’s Square.
As Benedict rode past him in the open-topped white vehicle known as the “popemobile,” the man jumped a wooden barrier holding back spectators and tried to mount the car. He managed to touch the popemobile briefly before bodyguards wrestled him to the ground.
At the time, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, referred to the man’s “clear signs of mental imbalance” and said that the case was “to be considered closed.”
Yet the incident revived concerns about security measures taken to protect the pope in the years since Mehmet Ali Agca shot and gravely wounded John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.
The open-topped SUV used for such papal appearances is one of three vehicles interchangeably known as the “popemobile.”
Outside Vatican territory, the pope normally rides in one of two Mercedes-Benz ML430 off-road vehicles, which are fitted with raised tops made of bullet-proof plastic.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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