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Pope defends departing commandant

Pope Francis and Swiss Guards Commander Daniel Rudolf Anrig greeting the new guards earlier this year Keystone

The pontiff has quashed rumours that he dismissed the commandant of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard for being too strict. As he told an Argentinian newspaper, it’s just an ordinary change in staffing.

Last week, there were various media reports stating that Pope Francis had decided to drop Swiss Guard Commandant Daniel Rudolf Anrig for being excessively strict. But as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church told the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion on Sunday, that was “certainly not” why he had decided to appoint somebody else as head of the Swiss Guard.

Pope Francis also denied suggestions that he thought Anrig’s newly-renovated apartment was too large, and pointed out that the commandant and his wife have four children. He also described 42-year-old Anrig as a “good Catholic” with an “excellent personality” who had done nothing wrong.

However, Pope Francis said that after visiting the guardsmen in their quarters recently, he felt that a change would be a good idea, noting that “nobody stays forever”.

Anrig has led the Swiss Guard since 2008 and will stay on until the end of January 2015. Vice Commandant Christoph Graf is expected to take his place.

The male guards number about 110 and must be Swiss Catholics. They stand guard at papal ceremonies as well as help to protect the pope. Vatican and Italian police also defend the pontiff.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR