Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Blessed Papal Encounter

Americans awoke yesterday to news of an apparent attempted attack on Pope Benedict XVI. Footage from St. Peter's Square showed a man in a pink t-shirt, shorts, hat and sunglasses leap from a barricade in a frenzied effort to reach the pontiff’s uncovered vehicle. The rushing man made it to the back of and even touched the slow-moving Popemobile before being swarmed by Vatican security personnel.

Preliminary reports were that the apparent assailant was unarmed; he had no intention of harming the Pontiff but was merely seeking attention. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi added that the man "looked a little crazy."

The person who so fervently strove to reach the Pontiff is Roberto Sperling, a 27-year-old from Karlsruhe, Germany. German newspapers reported that he chained himself to a church gate in his home town several weeks earlier, insisting Mary had given him a message for the Pope. That had seemingly not been enough to get him treatment for his mental illness.

Father Lombardi reported that the Vatican is not interested in criminal charges. Instead, “psychiatrists of the Vatican Hospital intervened and decided that the young man should be hospitalized and undergo mandatory treatment in a specialized and protected center.”

Although perhaps not in the way he expected, Roberto Sperling’s encounter with the Pope may have resulted in a minor miracle after all.