Changes of the Swiss Guard: "It was a mere renewal... is sane to know that nobody goes on forever"
A few days after the italian press published the news that the Pope had dismissed the commander ofthe Pontifical Swiss Guard, Col. Daniel Anrig, for being too rigid and authoritarian, the Pope denied that version during the interview with LA NACION.
When asked about it, Francis explained that it was actually a normal turnover and that there was "nothing unusual in it. There is no sin in him, no guilt." He also stressed the qualities of Anrig, 40 and father of four children. He praised him as an excellent man, and even said he had spoken directly with him, face to face, about his replacement many months ago, after concluding that a "renewal" was convenient.
"It was just a renovation, because he ended his term and it’s healthy to know that no one goes on forever," he said.
The news of the dismissal of Anrig, appointed in 2008 by the now emeritus pope Benedict XVI as head of the pontifical small army created 500 years ago, who was part of that elite guard since 1992, was revealed last Wednesday, after the information was published by L'Osservatore Romano.
"The Holy Father ordered the colonel to end his service on January 31, 2015, once the extension granted to his mandate is over," read the information.
These lines fueled speculation of all kinds in the Italian press, which stated that the reason for the replacement was not only the authoritarianways of the Colonel –"it is the end of a dictatorship", confessed one guardwhen he heard of the renewal–, but also with the fact that Anrig had moved to an extremely luxurious apartment.
-Is it true that youfired the head of the Swiss Guard, Daniel Anrig, for being too strict?
-No, that’s not true. Last year, two months after my election, his five year term expired. Then I told the Secretary of State –Pietro Parolin wasnt there yet- that I could neither appoint him or dismiss him, because I didn’t know the man. So I decided to extend his mandate with the typical formula "donec alitur provideatur", "until provided otherwise." It seemed unfair to make a decision at that time, one way or the other. Then I learnt more about all that, I visited the barracks, I spent an afternoon with the swiss guards, I also stayed for dinner one evening, I got to know the people and I felt a renovation would be healthy. It was a mere renewal, because his term was over and it is healthy to know that nobody is eternal. So I talked to him and we agreed that he was leaving by the end of the year. Heknew that since July.
-Then it is not true that you fired him because he was too strict?
-No, it's not true. It is a change, a normal change. He is an excellent person, a very good Catholic, a family man.
-It was also said that you fired him because he lived in a luxurious apartment. That’s also false?
-Last year, he renovaated his apartments, which are certainly spacious because he has four children. He is a good Christian, a believer, a very good man, I have an excellent relationship with him, so I talked with him face to face and said: "Look, I prefer a renewal". There was is nothing unusual in it. There’s no fault in him, no blame.