Pope Francis admitted in an interview yesterday that he takes a risk when he ditches a "sardine can" popemobile to greet the people, but at his age he has little to lose.
The 77-year-old pontiff recalled that for his visit to Brazil in July last year officials had prepared a glass-enclosed "popemobile" to shield him.
"But I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is glass," he said in an interview with the Barcelona-based Vanguardia newspaper.
"For me it is a wall," said the spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
"It is true something could happen to me but let's be realistic, at my age I do not have much to lose," he told the paper's Vatican correspondent Henrique Cymerman. "It is in God's hands."
Francis has preferred to use open-top cars in contrast to his predecessor Benedict XVI who rode in a bulletproof "popemobile", introduced after the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981.