Swiss Guard-ettes?

Grrr.

Vatican Swiss Guards consider opening to women

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer   – Wed May 6, 7:16 am ET

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican’s Swiss Guards will swear in 32 new recruits Wednesday amid suggestions from their new commander that women might one day join their ranks[Read the headline carefully.   Okay.. continue.]

Col. Daniel Anrig said Tuesday he was open to the idea of women serving in the elite, 500-year-old papal security force, reversing the long-held position of his predecessors.  [The Commandant is "open to the idea" but the headline implies something else.]

"Personally, I could imagine it for one job or another, surely," Anrig told private Mediaset television. "One could think about it."

He acknowledged there might be logistical problems, since the Vatican barracks housing the Swiss Guards are already crowded. "Sure, there could be problems, but every problem can be resolved," he said.

The housing crunch has long been cited by previous commanders as the reason why women couldn’t join.

Anrig, a former Swiss police commander with a degree in civilian and church law, was tapped by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Swiss Guards last August.

The 110-strong force provides ceremonial guard duty, assists at Vatican functions as well as helps to protect the pope. The guards are ubiquitous around the Vatican, in their trademark blue-and-gold uniforms, halberds and crimson-plumed helmets.

Currently, each recruit must be a Catholic male, between the ages of 19 and 30, have completed mandatory Swiss military service, have an impeccable reputation and agree to sign up for at least two years.

On Wednesday afternoon, 32 new recruits will join their ranks in an elaborate swearing-in ceremony in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. The ceremony is held each May 6 to commemorate the 147 Swiss Guards who died protecting Pope Clement VII during the 1527 Sack of Rome.

During the ceremony, the new recruits raise three fingers and swear to uphold the Swiss Guard oath to protect Benedict and his successors "and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them."

The Swiss Guards were founded by Pope Julius II in 1506.

Their legend was stained in 1998 by the slayings in a Vatican City apartment of a guard commander and his wife. The Vatican blamed the killings on a disgruntled guardsman who, according to the Holy See, then fatally turned the gun on himself.  [Why do outlets like AP always have to dredge up something lurid?  It is like they can’t stand anything being… good.  Not even the BBC did that.]

The slayings were the first killings in the Vatican in 150 years.

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49 Responses to Swiss Guard-ettes?

  1. Mitchell NY says:

    If it isn’t broken why try to fix it? And if the guard is “opened” up then why should there be a housing problem….Equal is equal…same housing, restroom facilities etc..Or will we then say woman are not the same as men? You can’t have it both ways.

  2. Joanne says:

    “Or when will we then say woman are not the same as men?”

    Men and women are not the same in many respects, but “equal” in the sense of human dignity doesn’t mean identical in every characteristic.

    The “housing crunch,” at least as it’s presented here seems a bit bogus, to be honest. There probably is a more truthful explanation. That said, it is obvious from a propriety standpoint why they wouldn’t want men and women sharing living quarters, bathrooms, etc.

  3. TNCath says:

    Okay, before all the naysayers start in on this, consider this scenario. What would folks like the LCWR, the NCR, and all the other groups who favor more inclusion of women in the Church think? The idea of WOMEN joining a MILITARY FORCE that GUARDS the POPE! WOMEN who put their LIVES on the line for the protection of the VATICAN? It could be a brilliant move!

  4. I am not Spartacus says:

    In June of 2002, Martha Burk, as the head of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), began to badger Augusta National Golf Course into accepting women as members.

    She applied as much pressure as she could even getting the male CEO’s of the Corporate Sponsors of, “The Masters” Championship, held at Augusta National, to take Sub rosa meetings with Hootie to figure a way to dodge the feminist wrath of Burk.

    The Chairman of Augusta National, Hootie Johnson said the club’s policy wouldn’t change even if he dropped dead. And then he doubled-down on Burk and announced that Augusta pulled the sponsorships itself and they’d put the tournament without them.

    The Sports world was in a tizzy – for nine days. And all the wild predictions of the myriad disasters that would befall Hootie and Augusta National? They disappeared. And nobody (certainly not the Media because THEY lost) talks about the disaster about to befall Augusta National and not even nine Americans know who Burk is.

    Any time a leader of an exclusively male occupation, vocation, avocation, or private club, etc recognises he is under pressure to worship at the altar of Feminism or equality,he should ask himself-

    What Would Hootie DO?

    Act like a man and the gals will back-down and the Media will fold-up its tent and slink away. Give an inch and the left will take you a mile further down the road to nihilistic socialism.

  5. Meredith says:

    Gah! Women don’t become Swiss Guards… women DATE Swiss Guards! I thought we had this all figured out to everyone’s advantage. ^_^

  6. The Guard helpfully provides two more reasons on its “requirements” page:

    “Male sex

    “The Guards are housed in double or triple rooms. At the beginning they are in dormitories.

    “The camaraderie between young unmarried men should not be undervalued.

    “A mixed Corps is not appropriate in our service and community life.”

    http://www.guardiasvizzera.org/

    This article is better than the Reuters one that said the Guards duty’s were largely ceremonial. They’re not training with rifles for their health:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_jQ602UCV-rQ/SgDTYdTQ65I/AAAAAAAAAUA/Je15ymnysGk/s200/lolcat5560455.jpg

  7. Maureen says:

    It would make a lot more sense to start a militant order of monastic female knights. You could name them the Matildites, after Matilda of Tuscany/Canossa.

    It would be nice if they were also ninja, so that they could provide plausible denial cover for the Swiss Guard Ninja Death Squad Elite.

  8. Typical feminist oriented stuff to eliminate that “discriminatory male patriarchy.” That’s why the news always brings up some bad point to infer that the feminist way will – supposedly – solve the problem. Same ole, same ole.

  9. MargaretMN says:

    It sounds like allowing married guards might have been problematic too, given the odd life and requirements of a job like that. I remember an old ex US marine once telling me that the Marines used to discourage young marines from getting married with the line that “if the marines had wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one!” Seriously though, if they don’t do actual security work (for which women are suited in some areas, being even better at stealth and more paranoid and risk averse than males!) then what we are talking about is aesthetic value and historical continuity, consistent with an ages old tradition. In that case, having females is just silly.

  10. JillofTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    Why would they want to serve, when folks like the Z crowd would be the first to throw them under the pope mobile?

  11. Mary says:

    The commenters are misconstruing the reason for the possible consideration of women. The Swiss Guard have for a while had trouble recruiting new members, particularly because there are no longer many young Swiss men who meet the requirements to join. This has nothing to do with feminism. In fact, I doubt very much that the radical feminists many commenters seem so eager to bash would have any interest in joining the Swiss Guard.

    One problem I see is that only men complete compulsory military training in Switzerland, so women would not be likely to have the required military background. Still, it’s not a bad idea. There is no reason why, in a day and age where it’s extremely unlikely the Swiss Guard will engage in hand-to-hand combat, women could not join their ranks.

  12. Ella says:

    WHY?! :-(

    Besides my horror at possibly messing with the tradition of the Swiss Guards, that really seems like another step towards women’s ordination. I mean, if a woman can guard the Pope, someone will say she might as well be the Pope. Ridiculous. Why can’t women be ladies and enjoy the role God has given us?

  13. C.L. says:

    Approximately five minutes after the advent of women Swiss Guards, trhere will be a “scandal” about an affair, a pregnancy etc etc. Why the boss of the Guard let his, er, guard down to walk into this door doesn’t say much for his prudence or his intelligence.

  14. fh in Houston says:

    Commenters may not know the reason, but are not misconstruing the article.

    The Swiss Guard is the Vatican’s police force as well. It is not just ceremonial.

    I can see it now, the new TV series: 1 Eve 12: Vatican Nights.

    The first female Swiss Guard killed in the service of the Pope, St. Joan de Cop; Patroness of Patrolwomen.

    “Their legend was stained in 1998 by the slayings in a Vatican City apartment of a guard commander and his wife. The Vatican blamed the killings on a disgruntled guardsman who, according to the Holy See, then fatally turned the gun on himself.” This could have been prevented had women been on the force. That is the point of including it the article.

  15. Michael J says:

    Is it really so horrible to say in this day and age that skill and ability notwithstanding, there are some things that it is simply not *appropriate* for a woman (or a man, for that matter) to do?

    Why is there such a mad dash to eliminate any perceived differences between men and women?

  16. fh in Houston says:

    I need spell check. Commentator that is.

  17. I’m taking the news story pretty well myself. Especially since it’s not gonna happen.

  18. jarhead462 says:

    “I remember an old ex US marine”-MargaretMN

    There are no “Ex-Marines” only former Marines.
    We have a saying: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”

    Semper Fi!

  19. jarhead462 says:

    “This could have been prevented had women been on the force. That is the point of including it the article.”-Comment by fh in Houston

    You got that right…Don’t you hate when they do that?

  20. Tzard says:

    Of course we all realize the newswoman’s proposal is entirely for show. It’s not about admitting good people who would help for X or Y (who happen to be female). I certainly hope the Swiss guard is a little detached from political correctness to rebuff this pressure.

    I do, however, like Maureen’s suggestion – if women *are* needed, form a separate all-female corps which is associated with the Swiss Guard. Have them be specialized or not (I like the idea of ninjas) – but there are some things women are better at. That is, if the need is identified first, and not the other way around.

  21. Memphis Aggie says:

    Wonder how many swiss guards decide to become priests later in life, they sound like good material.

  22. Matt Q says:

    Just wait. The first one of those women who becomes pregnant out of wedlock will create one fat scandal and then if she decides to have an abortion, you watch the sh-t hit the fan then.

  23. RBrown says:

    Wonder how many swiss guards decide to become priests later in life, they sound like good material.
    Comment by Memphis Aggie

    It’s been known to happen.

  24. Jon says:

    So the Swiss Guard is having “trouble recruiting new members?” Fine, then open it up to men worldwide of proven Swiss ancestry.

    My fourteen year-old TLM altar boy son(great-great-great Grandma Wiedermeier was born is Basel)who thinks the SG “the coolest thing ever” would be their first recruit.

    But lady Swiss Guards? Let them be anathema!

  25. Matt Q says:

    BTW, perhaps the commander was trying to be polite, but he should not have pitched the idea of a possible recruitment of women, even if it was in reply. It’s entirely the Pope’s own Prerogative, not the commander of the Swiss Guards himself.

    The idea of women doing the job is one thing, but the real-world practicality of it eclipses that. The Guards go about the Vatican in areas and roles which even the nuns who work there do not go or have access to. It would be completely inappropriate for a female Guard to suddenly interject herself into that as there are also Clergy about whom themselves would be imposed upon. No, this is not a valid option at all.

  26. MargaretMN says:

    Point taken, Jarhead, and thank you for your service!

  27. This whole item may be academic as the Vatican has turned over most of its security to what is called The Gendarmerie. This force, comprised of Italians, has its roots in the Italian national police and the army as well as counterintelligence and counterespionage. The Vatican has to deal with a very sophisticated world. A recent commandant fo the Swiss Guards resigned precisely because of this change in direction.

  28. Thomas says:

    Am I wrong to assume the decision would ultimately rest with the Holy Father?

    If so I find it hard to believe an affirmative response would come from the man who said:

    “Personally it still horrifies me when people want women to be soldiers just like men, when they, who have always been keepers of the peace and in whom we have always seen a counter-impulse working against the male impulse to stand up and fight, now likewise run around with submachine guns, showing that they can be just as warlike as the men.” -God and the World

  29. Lori Ehrman says:

    My friend, Roman, is the former captain of the Swiss Guard. He served for 27 years with Pope John Paul II. I just sent him an email about this. We’ll see. I will update if I get any true information.

  30. Mary says:

    Meredith said: “Gah! Women don’t become Swiss Guards… women DATE Swiss Guards! I thought we had this all figured out to everyone’s advantage.”

    Hee hee! Our last round of chaplain’s chats for our college Rome semester somehow wandered into the topic of “How to Date a Swiss Guard.” What to say: “I think it’s so wonderful the work you do for the Holy Father…”

    “The Swiss Guard have for a while had trouble recruiting new members, particularly because there are no longer many young Swiss men who meet the requirements to join.”
    Really? I heard once that young men of various non-Swiss nationalities have lived in Switzerland for long enough to fulfill the requirements in order to join. Is that untrue? If it’s true you’d think they wouldn’t have problems.

    Speaking of “Swiss Guard-ettes,” my little sister’s Catholic elementary school basketball team were the “Swiss Guards”. True story.

  31. Mary * says:

    Sorry, I wrote the comment at 5:31 & I’m not the same Mary that posted at 12:11, just to clarify (lest I appear to argue with myself).

  32. I’m imagining Swiss Miss with a battle axe.

    No, this will not work.

  33. Reformer says:

    A great step for equality!

    However, I would like to see the Swiss Guard dissolved. There is no need for a church army, Jesus said put down the sword.

  34. John Penta says:

    Reformer: Reality has a way of disagreeing with your thoughts, vehemently.

    Personally, I believe that given the recruiting problems other commenters have alluded to, this is an idea whose time has likely come. The problems pointed out can be avoided through appropriate discipline and regulations, like in *every other military force so integrated*. Yes, things will inevitably happen – however, one would have to be naive in the extreme to believe they don’t happen already.

    Indeed, if one were to seriously consider the situation, I’d think there’d be an argument for the Swiss Guard’s *expansion*.

  35. michigancatholic says:

    They’d look darned funny in those uniforms. Maybe they could put a big sunflower on the top of the hat. Heh.

  36. Restoration says:

    This is extremely disturbing. As a serving naval officer, I can attest to the disaster of women in the American military. Divorce and adultery are far more common in today’s coed service. The Department of Defense insists on socially engineering a “Star Trek” military where they perpetuate the lie that gender doesn’t matter. I did my officer training in 2001 in coed barracks! Incredibly, it has only gotten more insane since then. I have seen so many marriages destroyed by this failed experiment that has expanded each year as our armed forces are emasculated by women trying to be men. Sadly, more of today’s American males are far more likely to be found in front of the Playstation while America’s women march off to war and other jobs formerly held by America’s men–a dying breed replaced by 20-to 40-somethings who are forever adolescents. A new term has even been coined to explain this phenomenon — the Man-Child. (Read Kay S. Hymowitz’s excellent article on the topic in the Winter 2008 issue of the City Journal)

    http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_single_young_men.html

    The “War on Boys” is on-going at all levels and as the father to a young son, it is one of my top priorities to counter it at every turn.

    Even the Church has seen women taking over virtually all liturgical functions from altar servers to lectors to cantors to Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist to choir directors. Who is left to show our sons how to be strong Christian men? One of the many reasons my family and I exclusively attend the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is to give my son good formation on being an authentic Christian man. (Of course, there are Novus Ordo parishes that can offer strong male formation, but they are very rare) My boy is a member of the newly formed “Knights of the Altar” group and the women of my FSSP parish seek only to be Marys in their households — not Marys AND Josephs.

    I never understood why the Church didn’t speak out directly and vocally against the destructive feminism that has led to millions of mothers leaving their children in daycare take pursue careers in competition with their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. Women in the military is even more demeaning to men as the same women that men were once charged to protect now leave our homes to defend us. It is a world turned upside down with dramatically negative consequences.

  37. RBrown says:

    My friend, Roman, is the former captain of the Swiss Guard. He served for 27 years with Pope John Paul II. I just sent him an email about this. We’ll see. I will update if I get any true information.
    Comment by Lori Ehrman

    An old friend from the Convitto is the chaplain to the Swiss Guard.

  38. RBrown says:

    A great step for stupidity!

    fyp

    However, I would like to see the Swiss Guard dissolved. There is no need for a church army, Jesus said put down the sword.
    Comment by Reformer

    Did you forget that JPII was shot in the Piazza?

  39. Clinton says:

    If the Swiss Guard is having difficulties with recruitment, then perhaps the Vatican could found a
    new, international Guard to work with the Swiss Guard. As I recall, Paul VI suppressed the Palatine
    Guard, which was composed of sons of the Italian aristocracy. So, the Swiss haven’t had a monopoly
    on protecting the Vatican in the past.

  40. jarhead462 says:

    It’s ironic that the Swiss Guard have trouble finding qualified young men. I would assume it might have something to do with the fact that the Swiss, (like the rest of Europe) have for the most part rejected the Christian Faith, have stopped getting married and HAVING CHILDREN, so cannot breed at replacement rates.
    Expect more of the same in the years to come.
    But fear not, America is following the path of Post-Christian Europe, and I do not think that The Teleprompter of the United States will be apologizing for it.

    Semper Fi!

  41. Maureen says:

    Re: weaponry

    I hate to point this out, but polearms (like the Swiss Guard’s pikes) are actually very good weapons for women. They alleviate the “reach” problem and act as equalizers for height and weight. (Which is why militia-type armies, like the Swiss, liked them. You don’t have to worry about the differential between little guys and big guys being lined up next to each other.) And of course, a rifle’s a rifle.

    The basic thing that’s worrying people, really, is that the Swiss Guard is an elite force. Elite forces are supposed to be small, difficult to join, and full of seemingly pointless rules — and glorious traditions like that tend to spit in the face of mere utility.

    Secretly, of course, these things are extremely useful. It’s useful to have a highly motivated elite force, and the seemingly crazy stuff is what helps motivate them. So yes, letting 50% more of the world into the elite force is a problem. Forming another elite force would probably be easier, to be honest, although there would tend to be a certain amount of rivalry which might or might not be helpful. But yes, certainly you could figure out a way to integrate the Swiss Guard. Whether it would be a good idea — that’s the question.

    As others have noted, the Vatican used to have several corps of guards, with the Swiss Guard the bodyguard one. Nowadays, the Pope has a protective service to do that, with the Swiss Guard as the military force protecting the Vatican. So it would probably be important to divvy things up in some fashion that wouldn’t offend the Swiss Guard or the Gendarmerie or the bodyguard guys. If there’s a need that’s not being met at present, that would probably be the best one to give them.

    Now, most women don’t seem to have all that great a desire to join an elite force. But those who do are the ones who would apply, so that’s no big deal. If you made it a bit more international than just Swiss or Italian, that in itself would help create the new group’s tradition.

    Shrug. My personal inclination is to hope that Romanita keeps anything from being done. Let people do something about it five hundred years from now. :)

  42. irishgirl says:

    Restoration-I agree with everything you said! And I’m a woman! And thank you for your service to our country!

    Ella-you comment was spot on too!

    If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it, to paraphrase Mitchell!

    I’d rather have a brawny, muscular male Swiss guard defending the Holy Father! Women don’t belong in the military!

  43. MAJ Tony says:

    As much as I agree with the sentiments of the “women don’t belong in the military” group, the reality of women in the military is this: in modern irregular warfare in places like the middle east, we can’t NOT have women in the military. We couldn’t function without women to deal with the local females in the population. It has proven to be very difficult to placate the local population if we go into local’s houses and our male Soldiers are interacting with local national women. The local men get irate, and the women also suffer from it in the aftermath. As a result, we attached small teams of female Soldiers to the maneuver units whose primary task was to deal with the local women. The terrorists caught on quickly that the Iraqis were not checking women entering controlled areas, and would have female terrorists try to enter in their burqas with suicide vest bombs. As a result, it’s not unusual now to see female police and security in Iraq. I’m not talking about combat infantry guys who “close with, and destroy, the enemy,” a job definitely best limited to males, for multiple reasons.

  44. Girgadis says:

    I wonder what St Joan of Arc would think of this.

  45. James says:

    The misogyny in this thread is amazing. I fail to see the parallel between allowing women into the Swiss Guard and ordaining women to the priesthood.

  46. Steven says:

    “Why do outlets like AP always have to dredge up something lurid?”

    Because they hate the Catholic Church!

    They concoct these anti-catholic articles to undermine the Church. This is their tactic.

    Have you ever seen a mixed soccer team?

    Women should be glad that they do not have to fight.

  47. Andy says:

    “As much as I agree with the sentiments of the “women don’t belong in the military” group, the reality of women in the military is this: in modern irregular warfare in places like the middle east, we can’t NOT have women in the military. We couldn’t function without women to deal with the local females in the population.”

    When Germany was bombed during the Second World War, these sentiments were not taken into consideration. But back then, the USA wanted to win and end the war. In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan they are only creating chaos. Chaos is the best guarantee for them to stay there. They are ‘needed’ there. Chaos and fear in the Middle East and in the USA is the aim!

    The people are always the victim. Back then and now.

  48. Girgadis says:

    James
    I chuckled at your misogynist comment. I find comments that bemoan the fact
    that women are permitted to be lectors and do something other than iron the
    altar linens and polish the pews amusing, secure in the knowledge that some
    of the greatest saints have been women who dared go where only men did. Where would the Church be if Catherine of Sienna and Teresa of Avila listened to everyone who told them they were outof place because they were women? I’d rather imitate these great mystics and
    Doctors of the Church than intrude on a centuries-old, largely ceremonial tradition that would
    become quite complicated with the admission of women to its ranks.

  49. Michael J says:

    James,
    I wonder. Am I a misogynist because I believe that a woman should not, in general, act contrary to her nature and take up arms, or because I believe that a woman *has* a nature that is distinct from the nature of a man?