Vatican City, Oct 5, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).
Three Swiss Guards have quit after refusing to comply with the Vatican’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement and three other guards have been suspended until they are fully vaccinated.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard, charged with protecting the pope, has required all 135 guards to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
This is a step further than Vatican City’s requirement for a Green Pass, a digital or paper certificate proving one has either been vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus, or tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 48 hours.
Lt. Urs Breitenmoser, a spokesman for the Swiss Guard, told the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève that three guards left on a “voluntary” basis.
He defended the vaccine requirement as “a measure in line with those adopted by other army corps around the world.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Breitenmoser said: “Three members of the Guard have chosen not to adhere to that request, voluntarily leaving the corps.’’
As of Oct. 1, all visitors and personnel who wish to enter Vatican City and its territories have been required to show a Green Pass.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, issued a decree on Sept. 28 stating that Vatican employees or officials who do not follow the regulation will not be allowed to enter their place of work and must be considered “unjustified absent.” Pay will be withheld for all days of unjustified absence.
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the outgoing president of Vatican City State, previously said that the regulations were being implemented at the request of Pope Francis, who asked the authorities “to take all appropriate measures to prevent, control and combat the ongoing public health emergency in the Vatican City State.”
Under the new rules, Catholics going to Mass or confession in St. Peter’s Basilica, or in other churches on Vatican territory, will not need to have the COVID-19 pass.