"No Rules" against the Pope "popping out for a bite to eat"!

A curious story in the Hun this morning: Hungry Pope sneaks out for a snack

Pope Benedict XVI snuck out of the Vatican in secret to enjoy a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. The Pontiff, who is normally guarded by a huge security entourage, reportedly tucked in to a fish dinner in a small, family restaurant 150 yards from the Vatican walls, Italian media reported today. He apparently timed his unofficial trip to coincide with the Italian soccer team’s first World Cup game against Paraguay so that he could slip unnoticed through the empty streets as locals concentrated on the game.

The claims, confirmed by a shocked waiter, were the subject of fevered speculation in the Italian media after they first appeared in a gossip column yesterday. However bosses at the Al Passetto di Borgo, reportedly one of Benedict’s favorite dining haunts before his ascent to the papacy, dismissed the claims today, Italian news agency ANSA said. The restaurant’s manager also scoffed at suggestions that the Pope would order sole, claiming the 83-year-old Pontiff preferred to eat spaghetti carbonara or German dishes.

“Vatican sources” also poured scorn on the suggestions, which appeared in Italian paper, Il Foglio, telling ANSA they were “entirely untrue”. The sources said there were no specific rules preventing the Pope from popping out for a bite to eat but said he had simply not chosen to do so since taking office. However they told ANSA that his predecessor, John Paul II, had regularly ‘escaped’ the Vatican for walks in the countryside around Rome.

One likes to think that this is a true story, and that the Holy Father likes to break free every now and again. It was one of the endearing habits of JPII, as the story notes, and even Pope Benedict shocked his minders on the day after his election by going for an unguarded stroll across St Peter’s Square to his old digs.

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4 Responses to "No Rules" against the Pope "popping out for a bite to eat"!

  1. Peter Golding says:

    Before his election to the Petrine Office,the then Cardinal Ratzinger was regularly seen in the streets and shops of Rome doing some shopping.Perhaps old habits die hard.
    PS. I wonder if the Pontiff watched his beloved Germany take us to the cleaners earlier in the week?

  2. Jim Ryland says:

    John XXIII regularly escaped his keepers and went for long walks in Rome in a plain cassock. He could often be found enjoying a glass of vino at a sidewalk bistro, engaged in animated conversation with others. It drove Vatican security nuts but earned him the affectionate nickname, “Johnny Walker”.

  3. Matthias says:

    did anyone ever see the film with Tom Conti in the lead as a pope who escaped the Vatican and went to board with a widow in a small village,whilst pretending to be a agricultural workman?

  4. Susan Peterson says:

    Yes, I saw that movie, a couple of times. Unrealistic, but enjoyable.

    I remember when JPII was first elected and someone asked him if he were still going to ski. He looked at the guys on either side of him (cardinals? vatican officials?) and said “I don’t know if they’ll let me.” I think I saw this on TV, but perhaps I read about it and have imagined seeing it; I am not sure at this point.

    But later I heard that he had indeed been able to manage some skiing trips. A ten year old boy saw him and recognized him, and JPII, seeing his wide eyes and dropped jaw, put his finger to his lips in a “shh” gesture. The kid told his parents who basically said “You must be mistaken.”

    Those of you who only remember JPII as an old man should look at a picture of him when first elected; a very young, vigorous 57. He was never the same after he was shot. It really aged him quickly.

    Susan Peterson

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