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‘We are ready to give up our lives’: 34 new Swiss Guards take oath to protect the pope

May 6, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Swiss Guards at the ceremony in Vatican City’s San Damaso Courtyard on May 6, 2021. / © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool

Vatican City, May 6, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Thirty-four new Swiss Guards were sworn in Thursday in an elaborate ceremony in Vatican City in which the guards promised to protect the pope, even “sacrificing if necessary also my own life.”

Gian Andrea Bossi, a 20-year-old from Davos, Switzerland, was among the new Swiss Guards to take the oath on May 6.

“It is a great honor for me, for all of us. … We’ve prepared for weeks, for months for this day,” Bossi told EWTN News.

“I’ve always wanted to serve God in a way, and I wanted to serve the Catholic Church,” he said.

Gian Andrea Bossi, a 20-year-old Swiss Guard who was sworn-in on May 6, 2021. / Colm Flynn/EWTN News.
Gian Andrea Bossi, a 20-year-old Swiss Guard who was sworn-in on May 6, 2021. / Colm Flynn/EWTN News.

The swearing-in ceremony for one of the world’s oldest standing armies took place on the 494th anniversary of the Sack of Rome, the battle on May 6, 1527, in which 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII from mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire.

The ceremony began with three Swiss Guards blowing trumpets from the loggia, and then the guards marched to the sound of drums in a solemn procession.

/ © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool
/ © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool

Due to coronavirus restrictions, only the families of the guards and the press were allowed to attend the ceremony held in Vatican City’s San Damaso Courtyard. In 2020, at least 13 Swiss Guards tested positive for COVID-19.

As part of the schedule this year, the family members of the new guards prayed Vespers on the evening of May 5 in the church of Santa Maria della Pieta in the Vatican’s Teutonic College. Later, the “deposition of the crown” ceremony took place in commemoration of the guards who died during the Sack of Rome.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also offered Mass with the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Swiss Guards attend Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on May 6, 2021. / Colm Flynn/EWTN News
Swiss Guards attend Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on May 6, 2021. / Colm Flynn/EWTN News

Gérald Crettaz, the father of one of the new Swiss Guards, 23-year-old Baptiste Crettaz, said that he was very proud of his son for taking the oath.

“In our current world, where everyone is quite selfish and self-centered, my son is committed to something bigger, something wider that doesn’t belong to him, but to everyone. I think it is fantastic and it is so generous,” Crettaz said.

During the ceremony itself, each new recruit approached the flag of the Swiss Guard as his name was called out. Firmly grasping the banner with his left hand, the new guard raised his right hand and opened three fingers as a sign of his faith in the Holy Trinity.

A new Swiss Guard makes his oath on May 6, 2021. / © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool
A new Swiss Guard makes his oath on May 6, 2021. / © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool

While holding up his fingers, the guard said aloud: “I, (name), swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his saints.”

In English, the full oath reads: “I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff Francis and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the see is vacant. Furthermore, I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”

Swiss Guards march into San Damaso Courtyard May 6, 2021. / Courtney Mares/CNA
Swiss Guards march into San Damaso Courtyard May 6, 2021. / Courtney Mares/CNA

Swiss Guards — known for their colorful striped Renaissance-era uniforms — are responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes. The Vatican military was established by Pope Julius II in 1506.

Candidates for the Pontifical Swiss Guard are required to meet strict requirements. Each recruit must be a Catholic unmarried male at least 5 feet, 8 inches tall and between the ages of 19 and 30. Swiss citizenship is required, as is a letter of good standing from the candidate’s parish priest.

“It is something that only we, Swiss people, can do, and it is important to show that there still are young people ready to be committed to promote some values,” Swiss Guard Baptiste Crettaz said.

“The fact that we are ready to give up our life for the Holy Father represents a strong meaning,” he said.

The “deposition of the crown” Swiss Guard ceremony on May 5, 2021. / © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool
The “deposition of the crown” Swiss Guard ceremony on May 5, 2021. / © EWTN News/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican Pool

The Vatican approved an expansion of the size of the Pontifical Swiss Guards three years ago from 110 to 135 men. Despite the new recruits, it still remains the smallest army in the world.

“I am excited to see the Vatican, to get to know the pope … also to be closer to the Church, to the faith, to grow in the faith,” Bossi said.

“In the end it is to serve God, to serve the Church, to protect the faith and defend the pope,” he said.

Pope Francis received an audience with the new Swiss Guards in the Vatican Apostolic Palace ahead of the ceremony. The pope recalled that some former guards had discerned the priesthood after their service, while others went on to form their own family.

“I pray that those who begin their service now may also respond fully to Christ’s call, following him with faithful generosity,” he said.

“May these years that you will spend here be an occasion for a deepening of your faith and an even stronger love for the Church. I accompany you with my prayers and I thank you for choosing to make a few years of your life available to the Successor of Peter.”


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Pope Francis: Migrants bearing brunt of ‘aggressive’ nationalism and ‘radical individualism’

May 6, 2021 Catholic News Agency 7
Pope Francis washes the feet of migrants and refugees during Holy Thursday Mass March 24, 2016. / L’Osservatore Romano.

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that “aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” exposed during the pandemic, are having a severe impact on migrants worldwide.

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, issued May 6, he said that the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the deep divisions between human beings.

“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said.

“And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees, instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, is celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September. This year it falls on Sept. 26.

In his message for the day’s 107th commemoration, entitled “Towards an ever wider ‘we’,” Pope Francis addressed what he called a “twofold appeal,” to Catholics and the wider world, to embrace those on the margins.

He urged Catholics “to make the Church become ever more inclusive.”

“In our day,” he wrote, “the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytizing, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone.”

“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached.”

He appealed to those outside the Church to work with Catholics to build “a future of justice and peace.”

“Our societies will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace,” he commented.

He continued: “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.”

The pope argued that greater solidarity was also necessary “to ensure the proper care of our common home.”

He said: “Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.”

“A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

In an intervention prepared for a Vatican press conference launching the pope’s message, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that the text developed themes in the pope’s latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We are all suffering in different ways. What happens when the survivors in a lifeboat must all help to row to shore? What if some take more than their share of the rations, leaving others too weak to row? The risk is that everyone will perish, the well-fed and the starving alike.”

Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, added: “Widening the Good Samaritan attitude — overcoming selfishness and caring for all — is essential to survival.”

During the press conference, a video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented, featuring Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso describing the situation on the border between Mexico and the United States.

He said: “I’ve found the most rewarding opportunities of my life serving here at the border. I’ve learned that borders can be vibrant places of encounter and welcome — encounters that enrich us. I’ve learned that we are all interconnected as one human family. We stand or fall together. We build walls and fences which divide us. Today people of faith need to be bridge builders.”

Speaking via video link, Bishop Paul McAleenan, an auxiliary bishop of the English diocese of Westminster, said that the pope’s message offered encouragement to Catholics in the U.K.

He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.”

“Three areas in particular directly affect the human family today. The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict. Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away. Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless.”

Also speaking via video link, Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, said that in her work she witnessed the lack of solidarity that Pope Francis described in his message.

“Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need,” she explained.

“It detains them and enforces destitution. Destitution makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and they speak of the sense of losing themselves through years struggling at the margins.”

She highlighted the success of a project in which religious congregations and families welcome homeless asylum seekers into their homes.

She said: “Together, they create a counter-culture to the hostile public policies that render people homeless and marginalized.”

“In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”

Pope Francis closed his World Day of Migrants and Refugees message with an appeal to people to “dream together” of a better future for all humanity.

He concluded with a prayer:

Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.

We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.


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‘Security consultant’ says Cardinal Becciu asked her to compile ‘files’ on Vatican personnel

May 6, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
St. Peter’s Dome. / dade72 via Shutterstock.

Rome, Italy, May 6, 2021 / 05:05 am (CNA).

Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security consultant under investigation by the Vatican for embezzlement, has claimed that Cardinal Angelo Becciu asked her to create dossiers of incriminating information on Vatican personnel.

In an interview aired on the Italian investigative news program “Report” May 3, Marogna alleged that she was asked to create “dossieraggio,” an Italian neologism meaning a file or dossier of confidential information on a person, especially for the purpose of blackmail.

Marogna claimed that the request came from Cardinal Becciu, then the number two at the Secretariat of State.

Asked if these files were to be compiled also on people inside the Vatican, Marogna responded: “Also, yes. Then there was a discussion of the immoral conduct of some prelates.”

A lawyer for Cardinal Becciu, reached by CNA on Thursday, said there was “no official response” to Marogna’s claims at this time.

In the program, Marogna was asked if she was part of “in short, a parallel secret service,” which she affirmed, adding that it worked “in interaction with other parallel international secret services.”

“Sounds like a spy film…” the journalist said, to which Marogna responded with a smile, “Yeah, the discussion is this, exactly.”

Marogna has been under investigation by the Vatican since reports emerged last year that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in connection with Becciu, and that she had spent the money on luxury goods and vacations.

Marogna acknowledged receiving the money but insisted that the funds went to her Vatican security consultancy work and salary.

Media have claimed that the payments were made under the direction of Becciu, the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State and a fellow Sardinian. Becciu, who was stripped of the rights and privileges of a cardinal by Pope Francis in September 2020, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Marogna was arrested in Milan last year on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol. She was released from jail after 17 days and an extradition request by the Vatican was dropped in January.

The Vatican also announced in January that a trial would begin soon against Marogna for alleged embezzlement, but no notifications about the state of the trial have been given since then.

In March, it was reported that Marogna also faces charges in Slovenia on suspicion that she used her Slovenia-registered companies to launder money illegally obtained from the Vatican.

In the May 3 program, details of Marogna’s connection with members of Italy’s secret service were also reported. Marogna claimed to have at one time worked in “cooperation” with Luciano Carta, then the director of Italy’s foreign intelligence service, the AISE. The program claimed that Becciu directed her to create relationships with the heads of Italy’s secret services.

The program also touched on Marogna’s long-standing involvement with an Italian masonic political organization known as the Roosevelt Movement. Marogna confirmed the connection, defending it as “for professional formation, obviously, yes.”

On April 2, 2016, Marogna was appointed as a member of the particular secretariat for relations with groups, associations, and relevant subjects of civil society within the Roosevelt Movement.

Marogna is close to the founder and president of the Roosevelt Movement, Gioele Magaldi, who is a mason of the Grand Orient of Italy and a “worshipful master,” a senior officer of a masonic lodge.

Magaldi wrote several articles online last year in defense of Marogna when she was jailed in Milan.