Orani Tempesta’s car attacked by “four heavily armed bandits”, as Brazilian police struggle to secure Rio de Janeiro streets before 2016 Olympics
Armed thieves carjacked Rio de Janeiro‘s archbishop, making off with his car and briefly holding the driver hostage in the 2016 Olympic host city’s latest brazen act of street crime.
Archbishop Orani Tempesta was returning home with two Italian friends late on Sunday after celebrating Mass when his car was attacked in northern Rio, police and the archbishop’s office said on Monday.
“Four heavily armed bandits blocked the car, declared a robbery and took the driver hostage. He was freed after a short distance, but the bandits made off with the car, as well as personal belongings of all the occupants. Despite the fright, no one was injured,” the archbishop’s office said in a statement.
This was Cardinal Tempesta’s second run-in with Rio de Janeiro’s notoriously violent street thugs.
Last September armed men stopped his car in the central neighborhood of Santa Teresa, stealing photographic equipment, the cardinal’s ceremonial ring and crucifix, and even the robes of a trainee priest who was in the car.
However, in that case, Globo news site reports, the thieves recognized their victim and got a guilty conscience, deciding not to take the car.
Brazilian police are struggling to secure Rio’s streets before August 2016, when it becomes South America’s first city to host the Olympics. Murders and robberies are on the rise, with assaults taking place far beyond the famously unruly slums known as favelas, including in the city’s business district and even along the iconic beach fronts.
Tempesta’s office said the latest incident had one positive aspect. “The episode demonstrates to what extent the cardinal is not far from the reality of his people. He is the good shepherd who would give his life for his sheep.”