And they say the Catholic Church never changes…Which is why when the commandante of the Swiss Guards suggests women could be Swiss Guards–the all-male corps that has protected popes since 1506–opens the possibility, it makes headlines.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — 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.
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.
“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.
Sounds like the debate that preceded the race and then gender integration of the military–and the current one over gays in the military, which won’t last for long. Military men I know don’t seem wigged out by it at all. They can handle themselves, in my experience.