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The air pistol confiscated from Fr Milan Palkovic in St Peter’s Square on Sunday (Crux/Italian police)

A priest from the Czech Republic was detained Sunday before Pope Francis’ Angelus address in St Peter’s Square after being found to have an air gun, two knives, a box cutter and a screwdriver in his bag. Source: Crux.

The incident came less than a month after a man on New York’s “most wanted” list was arrested in St Peter’s Square with three knives ahead of a papal audience.

According to media reports, the 59-year-old priest, identified as Fr Milan Palkovic, who was wearing a cassock, claimed the items didn’t belong to him but to another man attending the Angelus, who was also detained, and that they were for “personal defence”.

The priest and the other man, aged 60 and whose name has not been revealed, reportedly were part of a group of pilgrims from the Czech Republic who had arrived in Rome by bus.

A police spokesperson said the items were confiscated, and an investigation is underway to determine why the two men wanted to bring them into the Pope’s Angelus address. 

In the meantime, the priest has been charged with illegal possession of weapons, an offence under Italian law that could carry a six-month jail sentence.

The weapons were identified during a routine screening by the metal detectors and the two men were detained at about 9am on Sunday morning, three hours before Pope Francis appeared at the window of the papal apartment to deliver his blessing and address.

According to police spokespersons, an initial background check indicates that neither Fr Palkovich nor the other man have prior offences on their records.

The security breach on Sunday comes after an American man named Moises Tejada was detained by Italian police on April 10 in a bathroom just off St Peter’s Square with three knives in his possession, which he apparently planned on carrying into Pope Francis’s regular Wednesday General Audience that day.

Tejada was on New York State’s “most wanted” list for violating parole after being released following a conviction for assault and battery of a real estate agent. He is being detained in Italy awaiting an extradition request from the United States.


For second time in a month, weapons detected at a papal event (Crux)