VATICAN CITY – A German citizen has filed a complaint against the pope for not wearing a seatbelt in his popemobile while visiting his home country.

German news reports said the complaint against the pontiff was filed in the city of Dortmund following Pope Benedict XVI’s September visit to his homeland. The pope travelled frequently in his popemobile during stops in Berlin, Erfurt, Etzelsbach and Freiburg.

The complaint said that on all these occasions the pope had failed to use the seat belt as required by German law and that, as a repeat offender, he should be fined the maximum of 2,500 euros (S$4,300).

The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI greeted the news with a smile.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi said on Nov 30 that the complaint was not being taken seriously at the Vatican.

“It continues to provoke curiosity and smiles of amusements, beginning with the pope himself,” Fr Lombardi said.

He said it was well known that the popemobile does not travel long distances, moves at a very slow speed and does not generally run the risk of encountering other vehicles in its path.

“The pope turns continually to the right and to the left to greet and bless the faithful. Often he gets up and takes in his arms babies to bless, to the joy of the parents and everyone present. All these gestures presume a certain freedom of movement,” the spokesman said.

Fr Lombardi added that the Vatican was “grateful for the affectionate concern for the pope’s safety” but added that the complaint did not seem to reflect much flexibility in interpreting the meaning of the law.

According to the German reports, the lawyer who filed the complaint said his client was primarily concerned about the safety of the 84-year-old pope. - CNS

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