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Clarification Concerning Incident at Midnight Mass by Pope

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VATICAN CITY, 25 DEC 2009 (VIS): Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today released the following communique:

"Yesterday evening, during the entry procession of the celebration, an unbalanced person - one Susanna Maiolo, age 25, with Italian and Swiss nationality - leapt over the barrier and, despite an intervention by the security guards, managed to reach the Holy Father and grasp his pallium, causing him to lose his balance and fall to the ground. The Pope was able to get up immediately and continue the procession, and the rest of the celebration took place without incident.

"Unfortunately, in the confusion, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray fell and broke the neck of his femur. He was taken to Rome's Gemelli hospital where his condition is good although he will have to undergo an operation in the next few days.

"The young woman, who was unarmed but showed signs of mental unbalance, was taken to a psychiatric hospital where she will undergo obligatory treatment".

Yesterday, 27 December, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray underwent a complete arthroprothesis of the hip. The operation was successful and his state of health is good, according to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office.

The Holy See Press Office likewise announced that the incident involving Susanna Maiolo remains the competency of Vatican magistrates who, "in the light of the reports of doctors and of the Vatican Gendarmerie, will evaluate the next steps to be taken".

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