Pope Francis' simple style and wish to be in close contact with the faithful has alarmed some who worry about his security, but the Vatican has repeatedly said that there is no reason to be concerned. The pope himself has said that he wants to keep his contact with people, but that he does follow the advice of his body guards. Although discreet, the Vatican has a well-trained security team that watches the pope as he moves about within --and outside --Vatican walls.
Today in the latest sign of his desire to scale back the formality and security restraints of his office, he travelled in his Ford Focus car in a five-car motorcade through Rome's traffic with no siren and no special road blocks on his first state visit to the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano. Two police motorcyclists drove alongside the pope's car in the motorcade through the streets as an escort. The Vatican had declined the traditional escort by presidential guard on horseback when planning the visit.
These state visits, normally full of pomp and involving large delegations, turned into a much quieter and less staid affair today. The pope was accompanied by a delegation of only eight cardinals and bishops. He conversed in a relaxed fashion as he walked slowly in pace with the 88-year old president and in yet another break from tradition, went up to embrace and bless the children of the palace's employees who were gathered to greet him.