It's turns out the woman who tackled Pope Benedict XVI as he walked down the aisle of St. Peter's Basilica for Christmas Eve mass is the same woman who tried to approach him last year. The NY Times reports that, according to the Vatican, "Susanna Maiolo, 25, a Swiss and Italian citizen with a history of mental problems...tried to leap at the pope after Midnight Mass last year, before security guards stopped her." This year, she was successful, leaping over barriers to the shocked gasps of others gathered:
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The pope, 82, was unscathed but Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, who was koncked down during the incident, broke his hip. Currently Maiolo is in a mental institution for observation. The Times adds that Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi "said he did not know whether there would be legal consequences. The Vatican is an independent state and must make a formal request to Italian authorities to take judicial action."
Pope Benedict gave his Christmas message today and didn't mention the assault. According to BBC News, "The Vatican is trying its best to play down the incident. But [correspondent David Wiley] says the Pope's security is a very difficult issue as the pontiff has to interact with the congregation and many Catholics would be angry if he was only ever seen from behind a screen." Father Lombardi said, "If the pope wants to be among people, it is impossible to have total security." How about a Popemobile for inside St. Peter's?