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Friday, July 18, 2008

You cannot sacrifice others on the altar of your own sanctity.

At some level, I understand the discomfort with this:

Vatican security forces now include an anti-bomb squad and a rapid response team, according to Domenico Giani, the head of the Holy See's 130-man gendarmerie.

The Vatican will also work more closely with Interpol to gather information on any threats, he said.

The deal with Europol, the pan-European police agency, will give the Vatican access to a large data bank of suspects and information on the latest anti-terrorism techniques.

"The teams report directly to the head of the Gendarmerie," said Mr Giani in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

"The rapid response team will carry out investigations across the spread of information channels and will be supported by a sophisticated technical team. It will be able to intervene immediately in case of danger," said Mr Gianni.

"The second group is made up of highly-specialised experts, armed with sophisticated and innovative technology," he added.

He said the two teams would not be confined to the Vatican, but would also travel with the pope.

The Swiss Guards have also been given anti-terrorism training, and now carry SIG P75 pistols and Heckler-Koch MP5 sub-machine guns, as well as their traditional halberds.

Some qualms, yes. Then about five seconds later, I got over it.

Look, I'm certain the Pope was not delighted with the idea that he had to upgrade a modern security force already armed to the figurative incisors. Leaving aside the theology, he saw an awful lot of violence done while growing up and regards the prospect of more with horror.

But I'm metaphysically certain he's over his misgivings, too.

Why? Because Pope Benedict realizes that ultimately it's not about his personal preferences on the subject. There are upwards of 400 citizens resident in the City proper, and if Wikipedia is to be believed, another 3,000 Italians work in the City on a daily basis at the various museums, fire and railway stations, and even a pharmacy and supermarket(!). These 3,400 members of his flock are at risk of harm should he decide to play the pacifist. So, of course, he won't. And by "hardening" the Vatican as a target, it makes it much less likely that it will be attacked and any of those people killed or hurt.

You can be a martyr, should that time of ultimate reckoning come. You simply cannot force anyone else to be one with you.

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