Although Vatican officials have acknowledged that the Islamic State group is a real threat to Pope Francis, the Catholic leader says he’s leaving his life in God’s hands.
Asked about whether he’s concerned for his safety, Francis said he’s prayed about it, and he has just one request.
"I told the Lord, 'You take care of me. But if your will is that I die or that they do something to me, I ask you just one favor: that it doesn't hurt because I am a big wimp when it comes to physical pain,'" the pope said, according to the Catholic News Service.
Francis made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with a community newspaper in Argentina.
The Italian government went on high alert in February after receiving threats from the Islamic State group. In its propaganda magazine, the militant group Photoshopped an image of its black flag billowing over St. Peter’s Square. It has called Italy “the nation signed with the blood of the cross,” Crux reports.
In a recent issue of the Italian magazine Polizia Moderna, published by Italy’s state police, the Vatican’s security chief Domenico Giani admitted that a threat to the pontiff and the Vatican exists. He emphasized, however, that he had no current knowledge of an imminent attack. In addition, Giani said Muslim countries around the world have also been helpful in giving him “valuable information” on the Islamic State group.
Despite the tense situation, Giani said Francis has no plans of changing the way he interacts with his flock. In the past, he's refused to use a bulletproof Popemobile when traveling in public -- saying the glass felt like a "sardine can" that separated him from people.
“Even as pope,” Giani said in a translation provided by Crux, “he’s still a priest who doesn’t want to lose the contact with his flock. It’s us, those in charge of his safety, are the ones that have to help him, not the other way around.”