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Pope forgives attacker

Pope Benedict XVI has forgiven the woman who knocked him to the ground on Christmas Eve, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Italian-Swiss woman, who has a history of psychiatric problems, and her family met in a private audience with the pope at the end of his general audience, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi said.

The woman told the pontiff she was sorry for what had happened, while Benedict inquired about her health and "wanted to demonstrate his forgiveness," Lombardi said.

The woman shocked the Catholic world and Vatican security when she jumped over a barricade, lunged at the pope and knocked him down as he was about to celebrate Mass at St Peter's Basilica. The pope was unhurt.

She had tried to reach the pope in the same way during the 2008 Midnight Mass service but didn't manage to get to him. She has been treated at a clinic outside Rome since the incident.

While there, she received a visit from Benedict's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, who had wanted to show the pontiff's concern for her well-being, the Vatican said.

A judicial case opened against her by Vatican authorities, however, will continue its course, the Vatican said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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