In his second audience with security staff in recent days, Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Vatican Inspectorate of Public Security on Friday morning in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace. The purpose of the traditional annual encounter was to exchange New Year's wishes and relate the Holy See's gratitude for their service.
Administrators and agents from various units that operate within the Vatican City's borders were present to exchange greetings for a blessed and prosperous New Year. Among the representatives in attendance was Chief of Police, Antonio Manganelli, Prefect Salvatore Festa and the Director of the Inspectorate of Public Security in the Vatican, Dr. Giulio Callini.
The Holy Father expressed words of praise and thanks to security staff for the "precious service (they) render to the Pope and the Church" by making it possible for Vatican visitors to have "authentic religious experiences" in the "center of Christianity."
Despite the great commitment and responsibility required of security personnel, Pope Benedict noted that "in the eyes of the faith this constitutes a particular way to serve the Lord and almost 'prepare the way'" for every pilgrim and visitor to have a life-changing experience.
According to a 2008 report from Vatican Radio, the Inspectorate was established in 1929 in a mutual pact by the Italian and Vatican City-State governments. In addition to providing protection for civilians around the Holy See, it also oversees coordination of security details for the Pope, Vatican officials and foreign heads of state as move between the two countries.
Agents of the Inspectorate are very visible within Vatican City can often be seen patrolling in St. Peter's Square.