by Anura Guruge
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The BIG news this morning [i.e., Saturday, September 24th -- the 3rd day of the 4 day trip] was the inconsequential shooting incident prior to the pope’s open air Mass at Erfurt’s Domplatz [i.e., Cathedral Square]. The pope was unharmed and wasn’t even close by. He didn’t even know that there had been an incident until after the Mass.
It was not a rifle or assault gun. It was an air gun! It wasn’t even fired at the pope or even in his direction. Instead, a 30-year old man with connections to Erfurt, though living in Berlin, fired the airgun at a security guard on the perimeter of the security zone for the open air Mass — which is said to have been attended by 30,000 people. Those from what was communist, atheist East Germany were told by the pope that they must rediscover their faith. If my memory serves me right, Lucius II (#167) who died in 1145, after being pelted by heavy stones leading an assault against the Commune of Rome, was the last (possibly only) pope to have died as a result of an projectile.
The shooter, as was to expected was arrested. It is said that the police found an air rifle and air pistol in a top floor apartment associated with the suspect. It is not clear whether the suspect fired the air gun from this vantage point.
Though this will get talked about as yet another ‘scare’ on a papal visit abroad, this does seem somewhat innocuous. The man, unlike the broad that jumped on the pope in St. Peter’s prior to the Christmas Eve Mass in 2009, didn’t even get close to the pope. Plus, no pope has ever been killed with a bullet! Being poisoned is the most common danger.
Though it was not on the official schedule per se, the Vatican states that while in Erfurt the pope did meet with victims of Catholic clergy sex crimes.
Also in Erfurt, a city closely associated with Martin Luther the Father of the Protestant Reformation, the pope met with Protestants. See the YouTube video by clicking on image below.