Look: Pope has fun, security frets, as pontiff takes wheelchair detour

He occasionally requires assistance due to a knee problem

By Reuters

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Published: Tue 26 Jul 2022, 7:39 AM

Pope Francis had some fun on Monday and made the Canadian security sweat when he asked a Vatican aide to push his wheelchair close to people waiting outside a church, instead of going to his car as planned.

The pontiff had just finished a visit to the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, which followed a trip to Maskwacis, where he issued a historic apology for Catholicism's role in the country's notorious residential school system.

Leaving the small church, he noted that many people who could not get inside were pressed behind temporary wire fencing. He instructed his aide to push his wheelchair between the cars of a waiting police motorcade and closer to the fencing.

Francis, 85, was using a wheelchair occasionally during the visit, because of a knee problem. At one point, his aide had to lower the wheelchair backwards to manoeuvre it from the pavement to the street, putting it— and the white-robed pope— at a 45 degree angle pointing skyward.

As he was being pushed slowly past the crowd, he seemed to be openly enjoying the moment.

People behind the fences were ecstatic, putting their fingers through the wiring in hopes of touching him. "Thank you for coming to see us," some shouted.

The security detail, who were also trying to control a group of reporters and photographers inside the fencing, were relieved when the pope was finally pushed towards his waiting car, a simple white Fiat 500, and helped into the front passenger seat.


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