Pope unhurt after man lunges at popemobile

Security officers wrestled a man to the ground Wednesday after he tried to jump into Pope Benedict's popemobile in St. Peter's Square.

Security officers wrestled a man to the ground Wednesday after he tried to jump into Pope Benedict's popemobile during his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The 80-year-old Pope was not hurt and,appearing notto notice the flurryof activitybehind him, continued to wave to the crowd of about 35,000.

The man, clad in shorts and apink T-shirt, jumped over the protective barricades lining the route, hurling himself toward the open-topped popemobile.

He managed to hang on to the back of theJeep for several seconds beforemembers of thePope's securityteam wrestledhim to the ground.

AVatican spokesman identified the man as a 27-year-old German who showed signs of "mental imbalance."

"His aim was not an attempt on the Pope's life but to attract attention to himself," said Rev. Federico Lombardi.

He was questioned by Vatican police and taken to a psychiatric hospital, said Lombardi.

Security tightened after 9/11

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacksin the United States, the Vatican has tightened security in St. Peter's Square when the Pope is present. All visitors must pass by police to get into the square, with some walking through metal detectors or being searched with metal-detecting wands.

When the Pope uses the popemobile in St. Peter's, it is usually uncovered; when he travels overseas or outside the Vatican, he usually uses one outfitted with bulletproof glass.He is protected by a combination of Swiss Guards, Vatican police and Italian police.

The late pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to use one of the vehicles that came to be known as the popemobile, after two attempts on his life.

In 1981 he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St. Peter's Square, while a year later a priest carrying a bayonet lunged at John Paul during a visit to a church in Portugal.

In 2002, John Paul appealed to the media to stop referring to the custom-made vehicle as the popemobile, because he believed the title was undignified.

With files from the Associated Press