Pope's army might one day include women

The Vatican's Swiss Guard could in the distant future welcome women among its ranks, the head of the small force said on Tuesday.

This content was published on May 5, 2009

Daniel Anrig, commandant of the papal guard charged with protecting Pope Benedict XVI, said it was "possible" women could one day don the flamboyant uniform.

"Personally, I can imagine it one day or another," the former police chief from canton Glarus told Italian television on the eve of a swearing-in ceremony for 32 new Swiss soldiers.

When pressed for more details, a spokesman for the world's smallest army said allowing women to join the Swiss Guard would present logistical problems, particularly with sleeping quarters.

Anrig, who assumed the command in December 2008, did not deny that having women on the force "could cause some problems". But he added, "each problem could be resolved".

The commandant's comments mark a shift from his predecessor, Elmar Mäder, who vowed that under his tenure women would never be allowed among the 110 men who make up the largely ceremonial force.

swissinfo with agencies

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