Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pope's aide visits woman who knocked him down

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by the Pontiff personal body guard Domenico Giani, left, approaches children upon his arrival at a soup kitchen in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009, despite raised security fears after he was knocked down by a woman on Christmas Eve. Escorted by heavy security, the pope traveled to the soup kitchen to share a meal with the poor. It was his first appearance outside the Vatican since the attack Thursday evening. The pope smiled at children, caressing the hands of some of them as he entered the center operated by the Sant'Egidio Community, a lay Catholic group based in Rome. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (Gregorio Borgia - AP)

The Washington Post
The Associated Press
Sunday, January 3, 2010; 8:36 AM

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI's personal aide visited the mentally disturbed young woman who jumped over a barrier and knocked the pontiff down in St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve, a Vatican spokesman said Sunday.

Benedict asked his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, to pay a call on 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo "to show his interest and benevolence," the Rev. Federico Lombardi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Lombardi declined to comment on an Italian newspaper report Sunday that the aide told the woman the pope had forgiven her and gave her a rosary during the Dec. 26 visit.

The visit to the psychiatric clinic in the town of Subiaco near Rome had been made discreetly, and the Vatican hadn't planned on publicly talking about it until the newspaper report appeared, Lombardi indicated.

The spokesman said he didn't want to comment on what might have been said between the papal aide and the Italian-Swiss woman.

"Every Christian pardons," Lombardi said.

He said the Vatican City's magistrates are conducting their own investigation of the Dec. 24 incident. Still to be determined is if the woman, with a history of psychiatric problems, could be held legally responsible for what she did.


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