Why the Swiss Guard Matters

The Swiss GuardAlmost three weeks ago the Commander of the Swiss Guard announced to the Associated Press that he could see the force someday being open to the inclusion of women. Immediately, this news spread like wildfire throughout global media venues. So, what would be the ramifications and benefits for the Church if this actually was to occur someday?

Presently, women within the Church are blatantly barred from serving in the clerical roles of priest or deacon because, allegedly, Christ only willed men to be His Apostles. Despite the fact that St. Augustine described Mary Magdalene as the “Apostle to the Apostles”and that St. Paul mentions a woman called “Junia” in one of his Epistles as “outstanding among the Apostles” chauvinism continues to pervade the selection of individuals to leadership positions within the Church. Right now, women are most visible living out vocations as holy members of religious communities or serving parishes in any number of diverse ways, excluding celebrating at the altar that is…

Of course, if the Vatican did green light women to enter the Swiss Guard that wouldn’t necessarily mean the door would automatically open for women’s ordination. But the fact that women would be serving the Church side by side in the same capacity as men would say something. It would immediately put to death the notion that women do not have the same gifts, quailties, or charisms to offer as men do. It would also prove that women are capable of handling the same responsibility and duties of men, especially when it comes to protecting the Pope and the Holy See. Perhaps, it would at least open the minds of the Church’s leaders to the possibility of women serving in positions of authority.

This may be a naive and optomistic observation but throughout history it can’t be denied that whenever women have infiltrated certain areas of society and have been allowed to fill positions that previously were denied to them great and monumental advances eventually are made. Even though half a century or more has passed since women were granted the right to vote the fact that women have advanced so quickly to positions of power and prestige (a woman was almost elected President of the United States!) is definitely an encouraging and motivating trend.

If the patriarchal, Islamic society of Kuwait can give way to history and consent to women for the first time in that nation forming a part of parliament why could the Catholic Church not learn from the opportunity of women being appointed to the Swiss Guard? Doing so would keep the question alive, as to whether individuals should be judged based on their gender or sexual orientation, or rather according to their own inherent God given talents and abilities. Once again, St. Paul said it best, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28)

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About Phillip Clark

Phillip Clark is a social justice visionary, writer, and legal worker in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a contributing author to “Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics.” Interests include politics, theology, civil/human rights, social justice, LGBT rights, international relations, and history.

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