VATICAN CITY – Anti-terrorist measures at airports should always respect the principles of human dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Although the pope did not mention specific devices or technology, his words Feb. 20 were taken by many as a reference to the recent move toward full-body scanners, which reveal graphic body images along with potential weapons.
The pope told a group of Italian airport workers that along with their efforts to guarantee security at airports and on board planes, they were also called upon to protect human rights.
“It is important to remember that in every project and activity, the first thing to safeguard and value is the person in his integrity,” he said.
He noted that airports have adopted new measures to counteract the threat of terrorism, which is increasingly aimed at civil aviation.
“Even in this situation, one must not forget that respect for the primacy of the person and attention to his needs does not make this service less effective,” the pope said.
Some Muslim organizations in the United States have opposed the use of full-body scanners, saying they violate Islamic rules on modesty.
The pope said aviation routes were the modern “highways,” and airports have become “crossroads of the global village,” where millions of people pass through daily. The increasing numbers of children, elderly, sick and disabled who fly means that airports and airlines need to provide special services, he said.
Pope Benedict also observed that for himself and other modern popes – especially his predecessor, Pope John Paul II – the airplane has become “an irreplaceable instrument of evangelization.”
Pope Benedict has made 13 foreign trips in his pontificate, logging more than 60,000 miles. Pope John Paul visited 129 countries on 104 foreign trips, flying more than 700,000 miles during his 26 years as pope.