Pope Francis is not keen on riding a bulletproof vehicle when he visits the Philippines in January.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said over the weekend that the pope might do away with a “popemobile” protected by reinforced, bullet-stopping glass when he arrives in the country.
Francis is scheduled to spend five days in the Philippines beginning January 15.
Tagle said the pope does not ride a bulletproof car even when he is in the Vatican, so it is unlikely he will ride one during his visit here.
The pontiff might be travelling in an “open mobile,” he said.
When he visited South Korea recently, Francis rode an open-sided Kia Soul and a Hyundai Santa Fe, Tagle said.
That inspired ambassador to the Holy See Henrietta De Villa to suggest a converted jeepney as the official vehicle for Francis’ visit to the Philippines.
Last June, the Pope told a Spanish newspaper that he prefers not to use a bulletproof vehicle despite the security problems it presents.
“It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose. I know that something could happen to me, but it’s in the hands of God,” he told Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia.
Tagle recalled that a bulletproof popemobile was locally assembled for the second visit to the country of John Paul 2nd in 1995 because of an attempt on his life.
In 1980, Bulgarian Ali Agca shot John Paul four times while the pope was blessing the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.
The pope survived, but Vatican authorities became more security conscious and insisted that he travel around in a protected vehicle, Tagle said.
The cardinal said he will fly to Rome on September 21 with some members of the executive committee to finalize the details of the papal visit.
He said the local committees for the visit have begun initial work and planning.
Tagle said Vatican officials in charge of the pope’s international trips will be in the country on November to finalize his schedule.
As of now, everything is still under study, he said.
Francis expected to spend time with the victims of the Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban, City and dine with some of the survivors.