Monday, December 28, 2009

Vatican to decide fate of woman who knocked down pope

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Dec 28 8:15 AM

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican will decide how to proceed with the young woman responsible for knocking down Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Eve Mass only after it reviews medical and Vatican security reports, said Vatican spokesmen.

Critical to the prosecutor's decision will be the doctors' evaluation concerning the woman's mental state and whether or not she was "of sound mind," Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service Dec. 28. The prosecutor will also take into consideration eyewitness accounts, he said.

When the Vatican prosecutor has all the information, including a medical evaluation, he can recommend acquitting her of any crime, handing her over to Italian or Swiss authorities, or handing down a sentence, Father Benedettini said.

The prosecutor will send his recommendation to the Vatican tribunal, which will then make the final ruling, he said.

Susanna Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier at the start of the Dec. 24 liturgy as Pope Benedict processed into St. Peter's Basilica. As Vatican security guards tackled her to the ground, she was able to pull on the pope's vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the marble floor.

The woman, who has Italian and Swiss citizenship, was taken away by papal guards. She was not armed but she showed signs of mental instability, according to a Vatican statement Dec. 25.

Immediately after the incident the pope was back on his feet and appeared unharmed. The Mass and other papal events took place as scheduled.

Maiolo was transferred Dec. 25 to a psychiatric hospital in Subiaco, about 45 miles outside of Rome, for what the Vatican called "mandatory clinical treatment."

Maiolo "remains under compulsory clinical treatment and the case remains under the jurisdiction of the Vatican judiciary," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, in a written statement Dec. 26. Because the incident occurred on Vatican territory, it is up to the Vatican's judicial system to determine whether or not to initiate legal proceedings. The Vatican can turn the case over to Italy for prosecution.

See also:

From the Herald Sun, "No charges likely in Pope attack"

From the Paris News, "Paris woman films Christmas attack on pope"

From the Courier-Post, "Vatican to review security for pope"

From the Jamaica Observer, "Woman who knocked down pope to face courts soon"


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