PopeWatch: When You Have Lost the Swiss Guards

Deserting a sinking ship?

Rome – For at least the past six centuries, there’s always been a spirit of “We Few, We Proud,” about the Swiss Guards, the small but elite military force, with their signature multi-colored uniforms and timeless halberds, responsible for the personal security of the pope.

Yet for this year’s edition of the annual swearing-in ceremony on Monday, the word “few” will take on a new, and more literal, meaning. The 23 Swiss Catholic males between 19 and 30 who’ll enter the corps represent a drop-off of nine new members from last year, or almost 30 percent.

Though no official explanation has been offered for the drop, the Vatican has announced that a series of video clips will be issued in coming months intended to stir up interest among young men in Switzerland to “become part of this world.” The series will be titled, “The Swiss Guard tells its story.”

Ahead of Monday’s ceremony, which will unfold in the Vatican’s Cortile San Damaso in the presence of Swiss dignitaries as well as various bishops and cardinals, Pope Francis met the corps of the Swiss Guards on Saturday.

(Francis himself won’t be on hand for the event, since on Monday he’ll be visiting Bulgaria ahead of a quick stop in Macedonia the next day.)

The swearing-ceremony is held each year on May 6 because it’s the anniversary of the Sack of Rome in 1527, when only 42 of 189 Swiss Guards survived a ferocious attack on the Vatican by mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite the carnage, the remaining Swiss Guards were able to spirit Pope Clement VII to safety using a secret passage connecting the Apostolic Palace with the nearby Castel Sant’Angelo.

Francis on Saturday thanked the guards for their “precious and generous service to the pope and the Church,” but this was no military address – instead, the pope devoted most of his brief remarks to giving these youthful Swiss men enjoying a sojourn in Rome a mini-lesson in diversity.

“Cultural, religious and social diversity is a human richness and not a threat,” the pope said, inviting the Swiss Guards to learn “to recognize in the other a brother and a companion, someone with whom to share serenely a patch of the road.”

Go here to read the rest.  Hearing the Pope preaching diversity to a group limited to young Catholic male Swiss is truly risible.  This Papacy-Through-A-Glass-Darkly is beyond parody.


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  1. To quote from Stripes: Sergeant Hulka: We’re all in this together. One of these men may save your life one of these days. John Winger: Then again, maybe one of us won’t.

  2. My Swiss Guard ancestor must be rolling over in his grave.Good grief, this pope doesn’t even understand the mission of his own palace guard. The Pontifical Swiss guards are first a military unit whose mission is to protect the pope. New recruits are graduates of Swiss Army basic training. They carry side arms, automatic weapons. Supposedly the commander before the current one was
    relieved early because Pope Francis considered the colonel to be too authoritarian. Figures. .

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