NEWS » Catholic Jubilee security increased
Catholic Jubilee security increased
The Catholic Jubilee has begun. Rome is expecting millions of pilgrims in a situation where the lord mayor has not been replaced and there have been many scandals regarding the administration of the capital city.
In March Pope Francis took Italy by surprise by announcing that this year was to be a jubilee year, some nine years before the next one had been scheduled.
However, before passing through the “porta santa” pilgrims will have to overcome many difficulties, such as traffic jams, inefficient public transport and heavy security controls.
The Vatican announced that 25 million people came to Rome for the last jubilee year in 2000. Politicians see the latest, unexpected Jubilee, as an opportunity to draw on central government funds in order to improve the increasingly unkempt aspects of the city.
Whereas in 2000 the city had had years to get ready for the pilgrims' invasion, this time it had only a few months to make plans. Already the situation was chaotic when in October the lord mayor Ignazio Marino was forced to resign due to an expenses scandal.
After the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, the vulnerability of European cities was evident, therefore security had to be bolstered.
Islamic State threatened to "invade Rome" so major tourist sites in Italy, including the Vatican, could be targets. For this reason an extra 700 soldiers have been deployed on the streets to back up police, and more security staff will be hired.
Extra security measures have been introduced such as metal detectors on the way to St. Peter's Square, and a no-fly zone imposed over the papal state during Jubilee festivities.
Concerns over possible militant attacks might keep many potential visitors away. Early bookings were low and some hotels have received cancellations after the Paris attacks. Research firm Censis has forecast that the Jubilee will draw 33 million people to Rome, but a growing number of officials believe that in the end the number of visitors might be closer to 13 million people, the same numbers as in any normal year.
The national and local governments have allocated 250 million euros for the event, much less than the 1.8 billion euros spent in and around Rome for the 2000 Jubilee, when more money was available.