Pope's aide visits his attacker
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 yesterday.
Pope Benedict asked his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, to visit 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo "to show his interest and benevolence", the Reverend Federico Lombardi said.
Mr Lombardi declined to comment on an Italian newspaper report yesterday that the aide told the woman the Pope had forgiven her and gave her a rosary during the visit on December 26.
The trip 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, Mr Lombardi indicated.
The spokesman said he didn't want to comment on what might have been said.
"Every Christian pardons," said Mr Lombardi.
He added that the Vatican City's magistrates were conducting their own investigation into the December 24 incident.
Still to be determined is if the woman, with a history of psychiatric problems, can be held legally responsible for her actions.
Mr Lombardi said it was unclear when the Vatican investigation would be completed.
After scrambling over the barrier separating thousands of faithful from the Pope's procession up the basilica's centre aisle, Ms Maiolo yanked Pope Benedict's vestments, pulling him down as he walked up the centre aisle to celebrate Mass. The 82 year old, although shaken, was physically unharmed.