Pontiff nixes bulletproof popemobile; wants to hear ‘the cries of the people’

By , on December 17, 2014


Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on December 04, 2013. Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock
Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on December 04, 2013. Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – In a gesture aimed at making himself accessible to the people, Pope Francis has decided to use two open and non-bulletproof popemobiles during visit to the country in January 2015.

Fr. David Concepcion, executive secretary of the Papal Visit Committee on Transportation said that the Pontiff wants to hear “the cries of people” on the streets, and that the popemobiles – one for Mahila, and one to be used in Tacloban – should be “vulnerable, open and accessible” like the Catholic Church.

“It will be open so he would be able to hear the cries of the people. It will be a reminder to us that the church listens to those on the streets, It will have no air condition. Whatever the people (at the venues) are feeling, he will also feel. So if it will rain and the people will get wet, he will also get wet,” Concepcion said.

One popemobile will be used in Manila, while the other car would be sent to Tacloban City, which the pontiff will also visit.

Contrary to apprehensions of the potential risk involved, Jess Anthony Yu, Presidential Communications Operations Office’s undersecretary for legislative, policy and legal affairs, said that the Pope’s use of non-bulletproof cars “would not be a security nightmare.”

He pointed out that those involved in the logistics are “are also not only focusing on the popemobile but also on the route that he (Poe Francis) would be passing through.”

“We are considering everything,” Yu assured.

The Presidential Security Group, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines – as well as the Pope’s personal security detail, the Swiss Guard – have all been tapped to bolster security during the Papal Visit.