Commander of the Swiss Guard says Vatican State security forces are well prepared to deal with the terrorist threat.
In the wake of the August 17, 2017 terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, which left 13 dead and injured over 100 others, European cities are stepping up their security, Vatican City along with the rest. Colonel Christophe Graf, Commander of the Swiss Guard, told reporters at the general assembly of former and current Swiss Guards in Soluthurn, Switzerland, “It is perhaps only a matter of time before a similar attack occurs in Rome. But we are ready.”
Security measures were dramatically tightened in Rome last year after the attacks in Paris. Barriers, heavy planters, and flower pots were placed in roadways leading into St. Peter’s Square. The Swiss Guard is responsible for the personal safety of the Pope and works with the police of the Corpo della Gendarmeria to protect Vatican State grounds. Italian police and military also maintain a visible presence in the surrounding areas.
Basic training for newly recruited Swiss Guards has been increased from two to four months. Training is carried out in collaboration with the police in Ticino, Switzerland, with a focus on marksmanship, anti-terrorism tactics, fire prevention and first aid.
Swiss Guards are also given religious formation, although to join they must already be practicing Catholics of good reputation. Colonel Graf told reporters that a number of Swiss Guards have gone on to pursue religious vocations. He expressed happiness that the Guard is still able to motivate young men to give up 26 months (the minimum time of service) of their lives to protect the Pope. However, he expressed concern for the future, citing changes in society such as gay marriage and gender theory, and said that sometimes he wonders where the voice of Church has gone.