Pope Francis thanked the Italian police officers who protect the Vatican: You take people as they are in life. This is how God takes us!
Pope Francis honored the Italian police officers who have died on duty, or have died as a result of Covid-19, by receiving a delegation from the Public Security staff that collaborates with the Vatican, on February 3, 2022. The Pope once again confided that his knee was hurting during the meeting, more than a week after the audience in which he remained seated on January 26.
During this traditional meeting at the beginning of the year,the Pope expressed his appreciation for this corps of state police, stationed day and night around St. Peter’s Square, and which is also requisitioned when the pontiff travels in Rome or throughout Italy.
Stressing the complex and “sometimes difficult” mission of these Italian officials, the Bishop of the Eternal City paid tribute to their professionalism and their “discreet yet effective presence” around the sacred places of the world’s smallest state.
The head of the Catholic Church praised the officers’ availability and their “patience” even “in the most complex situations.” He urged them to have the “fundamental motivation” of “taking care of people, and preserving the dignity and safety of each one.”
The Pope acknowledged the visitors who sometimes have requests, “problems, or demands that are not fair, that are a bit burdensome at times.” “But thank you for your patience,” the Pope told the police, “and for treating people as they are, in life. This is how God treats us, isn’t it? Like this.“
Your service allows Jesus to be welcomed
He also reflected on how the service of these police officers often enables an encounter with Christ.
In yesterday’s liturgy we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, also known as the “Feast of the encounter.” Because the Gospel narrates the encounter of Mary and Joseph, a young couple who have just become parents, with two elderly people, Simeon and Anna. Different generations and histories meet each other, and at the centre of this is Jesus. It comes to mind that you, with your work, also enable many encounters to take place here, in which the Lord is at the centre. He is welcomed in the temple of Jerusalem. Your service allows Jesus to be welcomed again by many people.
May Saint Joseph and Our Lady, who introduced him to the temple, watch over you and keep you and your families. To them I entrust the hopes and concerns that you hold in your heart.
Finally, the Pontiff remembered “those who have given their lives in service, including during this pandemic.”
“They passed away in work, they passed away in silence. But may they not remain in silence in our heart. May they always be remembered with gratitude,” he prayed.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope asked them not to be offended if he could not greet them standing up, because of his ailing knee. This is a pain that he has mentioned several times in recent weeks, both at the General Audience and in private audiences.
He offered each of his guests a copy of the beautiful book published by the Vatican Publishing House (LEV) on the Statio Orbis of March 27, 2020.