BOGOTA – Vatican security officials since last week have been thoroughly examining the sites Pope Francis will visit on his trip to Colombia in September and made their last stop on Monday in Bogota.
Heading the delegation of Holy See police officials is Vatican Security and Logistics chief Domenico Giani, who met – among other officials – with the assistant director of the Colombian police, Gen. Ricardo Restrepo, and with the head of Protection and Special Services, Gen. Julio Cesar Gonzalez.
Pope Francis will visit Colombia from Sept. 6-10, making stops in Bogota, Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena, all of which the security officials have toured since last Wednesday.
“In each region and city that the pontiff will visit ... there are designated officials with the Public Force. Now, we’re doing all the planning for the visit in security terms,” one of the members of the Colombian security forces present at the preparatory meetings on Monday told EFE.
The security team, headed by the papal nuncio in Colombia, Ettore Balestrero, and the auxiliary bishop of Bogota, Msgr. Luis Manuel Ali, began their tour of the capital on Monday at the Palacio Cardenalicio.
There, they met for 30 minutes with the manager for the pope’s visit to Bogota, Ignacio de Guzman, a businessman linked to the massive Transmilenio public transportation service and with experience in the logistics for big events.
Later, the delegation went to the Casa de Nariño, the government headquarters, where they were received by the Presidential Guard.
Officials with the Papal Nunciature did not say whether a meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was planned during the delegation’s visit.
The delegation is also scheduled to go to Simon Bolivar Park, where Francis will celebrate his first big Mass in Colombia.
Finally, the delegation will go to the Papal Nunciature, where the pope will stay during his visit to the capital, and there they will analyze what they have seen on their Colombian tour before returning to Rome, where in June the agenda for the pontiff’s trip will be finalized.
This visit will be the third by a pontiff, with Paul VI visiting Colombia in 1968 and John Paul II coming to the country in 1986.