VATICAN CITY (Roto Reuters) Thirty-eight new recruits of the Vatican’s elite Swiss Guard goes back to his position after his swearing in ceremony in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican May 6, 2006. The Swiss Guard, founded in 1506, consists of 100 volunteers who must be Swiss nationals, Catholic, single, at least 174 cm (5 feet 8 inches) tall and beardless. New recruits are sworn in every year on May 6, commemorating the date on which 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the Pope during an attack on Rome on May 6, 1527.
This latest swearing in ceremony of Swiss Guards has once again outraged Catholic feminists throughout the world. Be�n of the Women’s Swiss Guard Movement (WSGM) is quite upset that the Pope’s personal guard are made up of single Catholic men only and of a specific nationality. "How exclusive can you get? The problem of soliciting Swiss Guards would go away overnight if only the Pope allowed women guards. Why only single men in the first place. If only they allowed married Swiss Guards the problems of Swiss Guard abuse would also go away overnight."
Ms. Be�n;an plans to help to illustrate this inequality throughout the world by finding women who say they have vocations to the Swiss Guard and then to hold swearing in ceremonies on river boats. "The decision not to include women among his guards says nothing about women as guards except that Jesus, as a Jewish male of his time, knew that the custom and tradition of his day did not allow women to assume guardian roles. By following the prevailing custom Jesus was not precluding a time when women, along with men, could become guards. Recent archaeological evidence from ancient Rome revealed a guard uniform along with matching shoes and handbag thus proving the use of women guards in the ancient Church."
So far though Ms. Be�n plans have not born much fruit. She reported in a recent WSGM newsletter "So far none of the women applicants said they were willing to take a bullet for the pope. Ever since his Dubium in response to questions on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis most of them were more likely to want to put a bullet in him, not take one for him. Plus some of them had problems with the no beard policy – though we are working to get that changed to. One day soon "
Marie Wannabee says she will be one of three women who will be sworn in as Roman Catholic guards in Toronto in a ceremony that will not be recognized by the church.
"This is about social justice. I am passionate about being a guard, Wannabee said "So far there has been a Sistine chapel ceiling preventing women guards from breaking though. "I see a wide gap between the teachings of the Gospel and the legalism of the current church leadership. I want to help renew the church from within."
So far the WSGM has not chosen a name for the new guard unit, but they said the Swiss Miss Guard was out of the question though possibly Swiss Ms. Guard might be in.
* Credit to Kansas City Catholic whose post spawned my own.