Vatican will not step up Pope’s security arrangements in Albania

September 19, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Pope FrancisVatican, September 17, 2014: Pope Francis’ security will not be stepped up during his trips to Albania and Turkey despite alleged assassination threats by the terrorist Islamic State.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said there was “nothing serious” in the threats, which were revealed by the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Nazione on Tuesday.

Fr Lombardi confirmed that the Pope would travel in the same open-top car he uses in St Peter’s Square in Rome while he is in Albania this weekend.

He added: “There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation.”

Habeeb Al-Sadr, who has been the ambassador since 2010, told the newspaper he did not have intelligence about a specific forthcoming attack, but warned that IS’ “genocide” of Iraqi Christians indicated their intent to wipe out Christianity.

“What has been declared by the self-proclaimed Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible,” he said.

He continued: “I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians.”

Catholics make up around 15 per cent of Albania’s population of 3.5 million, 70 per cent of which is nominally Muslim and 15 per cent Orthodox, although no new figures have been compiled since a 24-year communist-era ban on religious practices was lifted in 1991.

On Wednesday after his general audience he told the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square: “I decided to visit [Albania] because it has suffered greatly as a result of a terrible atheist regime and is now realising the peaceful co-existence of its various religious components.”

Pope Francis’ trip to Albania will be his first to a Muslim-majority country. His second, to Turkey, is expected to take place at the end of November.

– the tablet

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