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 Louis Knuffke

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) On Friday, May 6, 36 new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard swore their oath of allegiance to the Pope, vowing to defend his person even at the cost of their own lives. The solemn swearing-in ceremony of the Swiss Guard took place at the Vatican, according to tradition, on the day that commemorates the sacrifice of the 147 soldiers who fell in battle defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome in 1527. 

In the presence of the Pope’s representative, Monsignor Edgar Peña Parra, the guards took the oath on the flag of the Swiss Guard. Raising their right hand and pointing three fingers in honor of the Persons of the Trinity, the guards promised to protect and defend the reigning Pope and all his legitimate successors, even at the risk of their own lives, following the example of their forebears.  

Each guard declared, “I swear to serve faithfully, loyally, and honorably the reigning Pontiff and his legitimate successors, to devote myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, even my life in their defense. I assume the same duties towards the College of Cardinals during the vacancy of the Apostolic See. I also promise the Commander and the other Superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. Thus I swear, may God and our Holy Patrons assist me.” 

Louis Knuffke

On the occasion of the annual swearing-in ceremony, in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, Church historian Justin Lone gave the story of how this small army came to be the personal bodyguard of the Pope in the Vatican.  

Lone recounted the famous story of the defense of Pope Clement VIII, when the soldiers of Charles V, then the Holy Roman Emperor, rose in mutiny against the emperor and sacked and pillaged the city of Rome. 

On May 6, 1527, tens of thousands of soldiers descended on the Vatican from the north. As Lone recounted, “147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander Caspar Röist, died fighting the mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome, in order to allow Pope Clement VIII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by the other 42 guards.  

With the invading force held back, the Pope had just enough time to escape. The soldiers escorted the Pope along the turreted wall, Passetto di Borgo, which stands behind the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square on the north, connecting the Apostolic Palace of the Pope to the Castel Sant’angelo, a fortress that stands on the Tiber.

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PETITION to Pope Francis: Reinstate Puerto Rico Bishop, Daniel Fernández Torres
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By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.

But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.

Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.

To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.

However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.

Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.

As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.

Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.

This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!

And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.

For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).

The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."

"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.

“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/

'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/

**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo

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Citing another example of Swiss loyalty in the face of death, Lone said it was the Swiss mercenary army that defended the palace of the French king during the French Revolution, where “600 of the 900 soldiers who were there died. 

The Swiss had this unquestionable loyalty, total loyalty” to those whom they served, Lone explained. It was this loyalty that made the Swiss the choice guard for Pope Julius II in 1506, when the Pontiff instituted the Swiss Guard at the Vatican. 

The Swiss Guard has survived the defeat and abolition of the Papal States in 1870, at which time “four small papal units (the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the Noble Guard, the Palatine Guard, and the Papal Gendarmerie Corps) were retained, but their activity restricted to the Vatican.” After further changes to the papal guards by St. Paul VI in 1970, the Swiss Guard was exclusively retained as the Pope’s bodyguard.  

Louis Knuffke

Since 1914, following a reform under St. Pius X, Swiss Guard commander Jules Repondre-organized the guard corps, whose service had become a very relaxed position of purely ceremonial nature, introducing rigorous military exercise.” 

The Swiss Guard also played an important role in the pontificate of St. John Paul II, rushing to his rescue in the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square. “Since then, a much stronger emphasis has been placed on the guard’s non-ceremonial roles. The soldiers today are, for example, trained in martial art,” Lone recounted.  

Today, the Swiss Guard is a “highly trained military” of young men willing to sacrifice their lives for the protection of the Roman Pontiff. The official website of the Swiss Guard can be found here.

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