On Sunday, August 8, on what was a routine mail sorting, the manager of an Italian Post Office found a letter addressed to Pope Francis. While letters and mail for the Holy Father was normal, as many wanted to talk to the pope, the manager found it suspicious.
That’s because it wasn’t only a piece of letter with a message that was inside the envelope–there were also three nine-millimeter bullets inside. The bullets are said to be used for Flobert guns, a type of gun often used for indoor range shooting. (Read: Pope Francis Calls For ‘Concrete Assistance’ For Lebanon A Year After Deadly Explosion)
With the bullets came a letter referring to the financial operations at the Vatican. The envelope also has a French stamp, but no return address. Authorities have already gotten the letter, and an investigation is now underway.
Series of difficult events
The Holy See has yet to issue a statement regarding the incident, but it coincidentally happened after a series of difficult events at the Vatican.
It can be recalled that a few weeks ago, Pope Francis underwent a colon surgery and was laying low during his recovery. He only returned to his official duties after a few days of rest, and only held a post-surgery General Audience five days ago.
And sometime in July, 10 individuals–including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes–were tried by the Vatican Tribunal for alleged mishandling of millions of dollars of Vatican funds. (Read: Pope Francis Sends His Prayers To Iraqi Hospital Fire Victims)
This trial is part of Pope Francis’ reform on the financial aspect of the Vatican, which had been involved in a series of scandals over the past few decades. It is also the first time in modern history that a cardinal is facing a Vatican criminal trial.
Threats to other Popes
This bullets-in-a-mail threat isn’t the first threat made on a pope. Even those who served as the head of the Catholic Church before Pope Francis were sent life-threatening messages and mails.
In 2006, terrorist group al-Qaeda released a statement during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey. The group, founded by Osama Bin Laden and a couple others in the 1980s, called the Pope’s visit as an anti-Islam event to “extinguish the flame of Islam lit by Muslim brothers in Turkey.” While it wasn’t a direct threat, many Catholics worried about the safety of the pope.
And in 1981, during his weekly General Audience, St. Pope John Paul II was shot by a 23-year-old Turkish assailant. The assailant fired four shots: one hit the pope in the abdomen, another which hit the pontiff’s hand, and the two others wounded two members of the audience. The Holy Father was rushed to the hospital immediately and underwent a five-hour surgery. (Read: Bataan Parish Dedicated to St. John Paul II Now a Diocesan Shrine)