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Vatican moves to protect Pope Francis as fears of ISIS attacks grow

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'Particular attention has been dedicated to the risk of an attack from the air, using drones.'

Vatican officials have announced increased security over the center of Rome during the Year of Mercy in response to recent ISIS attacks. Meanwhile, the pontiff gave his General Audience and called for the Church to open its doors to release God and accept those who desire to meet Jesus.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced Monday that as of December 8, all drones will be banned from the airspace above the center of Rome.

Alfano addressed the Italian Parliament and claimed security would be tightened around potential targets in St. Peter's Square, adding, "Particular attention has been dedicated to the risk of an attack from the air, using drones."

Italy's civil aviation authority ordered airport directors to further tighten security after already announcing strengthened security following Friday's Paris terror attacks.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis spoke to the masses in his General Audience on Wednesday and called for the Church to open its doors.

"If the door of God's mercy is always open, even so must be the doors of our churches, the love of our communities, our parishes, our institutions, our dioceses, for when they are, we can all go out to bring this mercy of God" to those who most need it, the pontiff said. 

"The Jubilee Year recalls the great door of God's mercy, but also the small doors of our churches - open to let the Lord in - or to let the Lord out, who is often the prisoner of our structures, our selfishness, and of so many things. As guardians of that door, we in the Church are called to be welcoming to all who seek to enter the fold of the Good Shepherd.  May the doors of our Christian homes be signs and symbols of the door of God's mercy, a door ever open to all who knock and desire to meet Jesus."

The pontiff offered special greetings to different groups, including pilgrims from Poland's historic Solidarity movement, the Italian association of people affected by thalidomide and also to pilgrims from Arabic-speaking countries such as Lebanon and Syria.

Speaking again on the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said, "During the Jubilee of Mercy, let Christian families make of the thresholds of their houses a sign of the mercy and welcome of God; let every Church be witness to the Mercy of the Heavenly Father, who never closes the door of His pardon in the face of those who are repentant, and never treats us according to our deserts, but according to the immensity of His Mercy and Love."

In closing, the Pope focused on Arabic-speaking pilgrims and said, "May the Lord bless you and protect you from evil."


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