There are, to be sure, formidable walls in Vatican City, and much of of the site, including the gardens and the modest guesthouse that is home to Francis, is set behind them. But the walls do not entirely enclose the city-state, and in the modern era they are not meant to, historians said.The NYT pushes back the "Pope Francis, tear down that wall!" crowd.
“Anybody can walk into St. Peter’s Square — that’s the whole point of it,” said [Gerard Mannion, a professor of Catholic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington]. “It was designed to be welcoming and to draw people in like two open arms, to draw them into the heart of the church.”...To tear down those walls would be to destroy historically significant structures. Destruction like that, for symbolic purposes, is like what ISIS did when it razed Palmyra!
Walls like those found in some parts of the Vatican were a fixture in almost every significant city of the medieval period, including London, Paris and Jerusalem, said [Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, also a Catholic studies professor at Georgetown'.
“The walls are a fortification, there is no question, but they were a fortification built at a time when armed invasions by barbarians and other forces were happening,” she said. “And that is not the same thing we are talking about with a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.”
The preservation of historical structures — whatever they might symbolically mean — is dramatically different from the question whether to build something new.
"Pope Francis, tear down that wall!" might seem funny at first, but look again. You are unwittingly giving support to the terrorists who blow up temples and sledgehammer statues.