Why does the pope have snipers?

My question is about Vatican security guards. In keeping up with the news on John Paul II’s health, I read an AP article about him speaking from the hospital. The article casually mentioned that there were snipers on the roof of the hospital as part of the Pope’s security! This surprised me, so I did more research on Vatican security. I found another article saying that whenever John Paul speaks to the crowd at St. Peter’s Square, there are hidden snipers and over 140 guards with pistols. My question is: Why? It seems so strange that the Vatican, the headquarters for Christ’s Church, would ever “target” anyone. Is it to protect the Pope, or the people gathered to see him? Has the Vatican ever killed anyone posing a security threat? Please help! This is really affecting my faith!

Although I haven’t read the articles that you read and so am unable to comment on them, it would not surprise me if the Vatican City State does indeed have snipers as part of its security force. In addition to being the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, the Pope is the temporal head of the Vatican City State. In other words, he is a head of state. Just as we should not be surprised that the U.S. President and the Queen of England have fully-armed security details, so it should not surprise us if the Pope does as well. Do not forget that John Paul II survived one assassination attempt in 1981. It makes sense that the Vatican City State would seek to prevent anyone else from trying the same to this or any future pope.

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