Vatican: Pope forgives woman who knocked him down

Vatican City, 13 Jan. (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday met the woman who knocked him down at midnight mass on Christmas Eve and forgave her. Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said Benedict met Susanna Maiolo and her relatives at the end of his general audience at the Vatican.

"Maiolo told the Holy Father of her regret for the incident that happened at the beginning of the celebration of midnight mass last month," Lombardi said in a statement.

"For his part, the Pope expressed his forgiveness, as well as his cordial concern and his best wishes for her health.

Maiolo, a 25 year-old with dual Italian-Swiss nationality, lunged across security barriers and pulled the Pope down just before midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

It was the second consecutive year that Maiolo, who reportedly has psychological problems, had tried to approach the pope and he was unhurt by the incident.

There was confusion as security guards immediately rushed down the aisle. French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, broke his hip and is now recovering from surgery.

Maiolo was arrested by Vatican police and taken to a Rome medical institution for treatment.

The Vatican said an investigation into the incident was continuing.


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