New Pope Selection is Security Nightmare for the Vatican and City of Rome

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ROME (AP) - Catholics around the world are praying for the moment a new pope is chosen. But security chiefs in Rome and at the Vatican are also bracing for it with something approaching dread.

Imagine throwing a party for hundreds of thousands of guests -- but you don't know where they're coming from, when they'll arrive or who the guest of honor is.

Still, officials are doing their best. They're installing a tented field hospital in a square near the Vatican. And police say they'll be ready for the crowd of Romans who'll drop work and rush to St. Peters Square the moment white smoke appears above the Sistine Chapel.

But the biggest challenge may be the papal installation a few days later. That'll feature presidents, prime ministers and throngs of pilgrims. Officials say a detailed game plan includes helicopters -- and thousands of extra officers.

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