The list of heads of state and world leaders attending the funeral of John Paul II fills four pages, but their presence in Rome is causing major security headaches for the Italian authorities. No weapons are allowed within the confines of the Vatican city, so it is being ringed with steel; ground to air missiles, a no-fly zone, snipers, and military helicopters. But the huge crowds are virtually uncontrollable. They could hide any sort of threat that the thousands of extra security personnel cannot possibly eliminate totally.
Rarely if ever has the world seen such a gathering of the great and good, and the homages to the man already being called ‘John Paul the Great’ by some go far beyond Rome or his native Poland. New York City is darkening the Empire State Building for the funeral, and it is likely the service will attract huge worldwide television audiences.
The Italian authorities are doing their utmost that it will not make headline news for the worst reasons, be it crowd trouble or terrorism, and the whole area is being swept round the clock for suspect devices. Bomb squads are on hand along with remote controlled robots, and drivers are advised to park well away from any sensitive areas.