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Friday, December 5, 2014

Is The Pope Unprotected Now - Pope fires Swiss Guard leader for being 'too strict'

   VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images 
The former Commandant of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, 
Daniel Rudolf Anrig (R) stands behind Pope Francis.



He has dismissed and demoted cardinals, bishops and the Vatican secretary of state, and now Pope Francis’s reformist zeal has claimed a new scalp – the head of his own private army, the Swiss Guard. 
In a dispassionate one-sentence notice, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, announced on Wednesday that Daniel Anrig will no longer serve as the commandant of the 500-year-old corps after the end of next month. 
No official explanation was given for the decision, but it was widely rumoured that the Argentinean Pope, who has established a warmer, more inclusive style of governance since being appointed pontiff in March last year, found the commander’s manner overly strict and “Teutonic”. 
The 77-year-old pope is said to have been appalled recently to have emerged one morning from his private suite of rooms to find that a Swiss Guard had been standing guard all night. 
“Sit down,” he told the young guardsman, to which the soldier said: “I can’t, it’s against orders.” 

The Pope replied: “I give the orders around here,” and promptly went off to buy a cappuccino for the exhausted soldier. 

In October, the Pope was photographed shaking hands with a member of the elite corps, breaking years of protocol which demanded that pontiffs should treat the Swiss Guardsmen with aloofness. 

The Jesuit pontiff, nicknamed “the people’s Pope”, is said to want the Swiss Guard to be less rigid in its rules, even “less military”, according to Il Messagero, a Rome-based daily.
That is in line with the Pope’s dislike of security in general. 
 

       


On trips abroad, including his visit to Turkey at the weekend, he asks to be driven around in a modest hatchback, rather than a shiny, armour-plated limousine. 

He has chafed at the restrictions to his freedom of movement imposed by the Swiss Guard and the Vatican gendarmerie, the tiny city state’s police force. 


    


Colonel Anrig, 42, initially served as commandant of the Swiss Guard for five years, but then had his term extended by Pope Francis. 

His tenure could have been extended further, but the Pope decided not to do that, with speculation that Anrig may now be replaced by his deputy, Christoph Graf, who is said to have a more paternalistic style of command. 

The Swiss Guard was formed in 1506 as a body of mercenary fighters by Pope Julius II. 

The tiny force, which consists of around 110 officers and men, is responsible for the Pope’s safety and the security of the Vatican in general. 

They can be seen on guard outside the Vatican every day, dressed in striped blue, red and gold uniforms and carrying halberds as their traditional weapons. 

The Swiss Guard’s most significant military engagement was in 1527 when 190 guards died fighting Holy Roman Empire troops during the Sack of Rome, allowing Clement VII to flee to safety through a stone passageway. 



 Alessandra Tarantino / The Associated Press

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