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September 13, 2015

Congressman: U.S. 'disrupted' threat ahead of Pope's visit

Chair of House Homeland Security committee says feds are closely monitoring threats against the pope

As the anticipated United States visit by Pope Francis draws near, nailing down airtight security remains at the forefront of concerns among American politicians.

On Sunday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, said that federal authorities have already "disrupted one particular case" that may have threatened the security of the pope, ABC News reports.

McCaul said that the Secret Service and Homeland Security are closely monitoring "threats against the pope," but that he remains concerned given Pope Francis' gregarious personality.

"I'm concerned," McCaul said. "He is a very passionate man. He likes to get out with the people. And with that comes a large security risk ... But as that date approaches, I think we're all very vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States."

The pope's six-day U.S. visit will begin September 22 with a trip to Washington, D.C., including a White House appearance and parade, followed by a speech at the United Nations in New York City and a Mass at Madison Square Garden. Finally, Pope Francis will travel to Philadelphia on September 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families 2015.

There were no details provided by either McCaul's office or the Secret Service about the specific nature of the threat that was disrupted.

The city of Philadelphia has taken some heat for its extensive papal security plan, which includes two fenced zones enclosing a traffic box that will regulate the flow of visitors during the visit. Given the heightened risk of an attack, the inconvenience to local residents and businesses during two days that will immensely raise Philadelphia's international profile may now seem better justified in the name of public safety.