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Vatican Says Pope Enjoying Himself Despite Tense Moments

The Vatican is affirming that Pope Francis, known as Papa Francesco in Rio de Janiero, is enjoying himself in Brazil in spite of a few close calls with crowds and protestors.

The ibtimes.com is reporting that a wrong turn on the way from the airport on Monday put the car carrying Pope Francis within reach of a mob of people who quickly swarmed the vehicle with the hopes of seeing him and taking his photo. The pope can be seen smiling and extending his hand out the window to the crowd and even kissing a baby.

Not everyone was smiling, however. According to Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, the pope's secretary was caught off guard.

"His secretary was afraid, but the pope was happy, with his hand out the window waving," Fr. Lombardi said.

He dismissed the idea that the mob created a safety risk. "There are no concerns for security. The concerns are that the enthusiasm is so great that it's difficult to respond to so much enthusiasm for the pope. But there is no fear and no concern," Lombardi told reporters.

Brazilian authorities disagreed and were horrified by the scene. Eva Vider, a traffic planning expert from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said it was “inconceivable” that the Pope's vehicle was able to get boxed in by traffic within just an hour of his arrival in the country.

“The Pope’s itinerary was poorly planned,” Prof Vider told the Telegraph. “It’s inconceivable that the Pope or anyone else of his position, who needed a clear path, should become stuck in a traffic jam.”

Later that same day, a protest of more than 1500 people gathered outside the presidential palace where the pope was visiting. They tied an effigy to a lamppost and set it on fire, forcing police to use water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse them.  The pope's security detail decided to usher Francis off the premises via helicopter rather than automobile just to be safe.

Earlier in the day, Sao Paulo police found a homemade explosive device in the bathroom of a parking garage at the Marian shrine of Aparecida where Francis is scheduled to visit today. However, the crude device was found in a location well outside the area where the pope is expected to occupy.

All of these incidents sparked a series of concerned questions at a press conference on Monday night in which reporters were told that the Vatican is not "especially worried" about the trip and believes the Brazilian authorities are in control of the situation.

Fr. Lombardi said the decision to use an open-car on the trip was Francis' desire and is in keeping with his habit when making public appearances in Rome.

"Obviously, he wants direct contact with people and does not want to militarize the situation," Lombardi said.

However, because this was Francis' first trip abroad, there may be some changes in security protocol going forward.

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