Ex Swiss Guard reports constant sexual advances by bishops, cardinals, and priests

January 9, 2014 • 12:29 pm

Is this really a surprise? According to the Irish Times, a member of the elite Swiss Guard—the group of young Swiss males who, among other things, guard the Vatican—has reported that over his two years of service in the Holy City he experienced many come-ons from the supposedly chaste minions of Christ:

The unnamed guard told a Swiss newspaper that he was the subject of 20 “unambiguous sexual requests”.

“One night, after midnight, I received a call on my mobile phone,” said the former guard in the interview. “The person on the other end said he was a cardinal and he asked me to come to his room.”

On another occasion the guard, who said he served during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, found a bottle of whiskey outside his door alongside the calling card of an influential bishop.

Hey, Reverends, don’t do that!

He recalled a dinner with a priest in a Rome restaurant that took an unexpected turn.

“As the spinach and steak were served, the priest said to me: ‘And you are the dessert’,” recalled the ex-guard, saying he stood up and left without touching his food. When the guard complained about the incident to his superior in the guard, he said he was told that, as he spoke no Italian, he had clearly misunderstood the priest’s intentions.

When the time came for him to leave the Vatican, and the ex-guard intended to apply for a job in the Vatican, he was told to meet an unnamed bishop but to “have a shower beforehand.”

The Times adds this, I suspect with intentional irony:

The Swiss Guard were founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II. Members must be unmarried Swiss men between the ages of 19 and 30 and of “good moral ethical background”.

h/t: Grania

60 thoughts on “Ex Swiss Guard reports constant sexual advances by bishops, cardinals, and priests

  1. The Catholic Church could solve all of their future sex related problems by eliminating celibacy and accepting gay marriage like the rest of the western world.

    1. But but .. then they would soon be without priests!

      Btw, the idea that having married priests, gay or not, would end ALL sex related issues in the Catholic (or any) church, is, IMHO, a somewhat naive one 😉

    1. Yes, I read that in the paper edition this morning over breakfast. My bf said that perhaps I should take a valium before breakfast, what with this, and Rob Ford, and Chris Christie, and an article about kids who can’t do math…This was unbelievable, though! A friend of mine teaches at York University and she was recently forced by admin to give a graduate student another chance after the student completely plagiarized a major paper.

  2. ““good moral ethical background””

    Well, airline pilots are required by regulation to be “of good moral character,” so we see how unenforceable that sort of thing is.

    1. Re “good moral ethical background”:
      Don’t read too much into it. The original term is “guter Leumund”, which is technical legalese for “no criminal record plus no detrimental facts known”. Same requirement if you apply for a job here in Switzerland.

      The other requirements are more serious: minimum height 174 cm, in excellent physical shape, alumni of a vocational or professional school and of the Swiss military training. Minimum service duration: 25 months.

    2. I’ve signed several applications for passports where I’ve attested to the good moral character of the applicant. And I’ve signed happily, since I know from personal experience that they sell good weight of hashish and if they can’t get good amphetamine sulphate, they’ll return your money instead of getting you powdered merde.
      Oh, did they mean “of good character as measured by their standards?” I thought they meant according to my standards.
      Now, why would they assume that the two are the same thing? Lack of social diversity in their youth, I guess.

      1. Between you, me, and this here fencepost, and even considering that I have no interest in such substances, I’m pretty sure I’d vouch for your friends’s good characters long before I’d vouch for the characters of the Customs officials. At least, if they had American flags on their uniforms.


        1. Oh, one of them had worked previously as a customs officer. … Oh hang on, no – that was a different supplier.

      1. It’s almost as bad as Joss Whedon’s joke tweet if it weren’t a joke:

        Damn, girl, I think heaven must be missing an angel cuz there’s a dead angel & you’re holding a bloody knife also u r attractive

    1. And, ew! I’m having a really hard time imagining any scenario in which such a line was uttered that the participants weren’t already in some sort of relationship where that wouldn’t come off as really creepy.

      Just goes to show how well in tune with basic human interaction these guys aren’t. Can you imagine the sort of “counseling” you’d get if you tried to ask one for advice on any sort of a personal matter?


        1. Counseling? You’d be lucky to collect unemployment benefits — for that kind of justifiable termination, not all jurisdictions will give you a check.



  3. “said he was a cardinal and he asked me to come to his room.””

    That’s hardly unambiguous. I’m perfectly willing to believe that large numbers of cardinal are interested in such things, but I do have a hard time believing they are so blatant about it, unless it’s such a large part of the culture that it seems normal.

    1. I don’t have a hard time believing it.

      I’d bet good money that their positions fill them with a sense of impunity. Even more, I’d bet they look at their own behavior through something like divine command theory: sexual advances aren’t inappropriate if they’re the ones making them.

  4. Google “swiss guard” and click on images. It is so gay! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The whistleblower must have slipped through the cracks of the Vatican representatives sent to hand-pick the recruits.


    How long has it been since the Vatican needed guards? 400 years? And as though these poncey manikins could turn away the seething atheist masses from the gates.

    1. To be fair, their ceremonial uniforms are not much worse than others (Yeomen of the Guard anyone?), and pretty much all fakey anachronistic military ceremonial uniforms look silly, on both sides of the Atlantic. As for guarding the Vatican, well I have visited the museums there, and there is treasure in them thar halls!

      1. With all due respect, I think the Vatican Swiss Guards are more gay than the Yeomen of the Guard, and a quick comparison look at Google images will bear that out. And if you take into consideration the context …

        1. With all due respect, what exactly do you imply when you say that they “are gay”?

          Is the colour and style of historical costumes a signal of sexual orientation?

          And if it were (which is historically not the case here), what the hell would that matter ?

          I don’t know what the sexuality of the Guards is, and I don’t care. But I’ve worked in the Vatican museums and let me tell you, you’d better watch your step when these guys are on duty. They’re pros, and they’re not always armed with just halberds. Standard armament nowadays is the SIG Sauer P220 9mm automatic, plus either the big Swiss assault rifle or Heckler&Koch machine pistols. Plus a few other gadgets. And they know how to use them.

          I’ve also collected anthropological and archaeological material from a couple of mountain villages (mainly in the Valais) which have long provided the mainstay of the Vatican troops. Naturally, I looked into the family backgrounds of some of them.
          These are tough, hardy fellows from, often, relatively impecunious backgrounds. Serving with the Guards used to be an important step on the ladder of social promotion. They don’t joke about it. Again, I know nothing of their sexual orientation, and I couldn’t care less. But if you imply that they are in any way “sissies” because you think they look “gay”, you’ll be in for a painful surprise when they neutralise you if you misbehave.

          1. Those costumes are over-the-top, Busby-Berkeley, ridiculously gay. Whether the guards themselves are gay, I have no idea and don’t care. I suppose some are and some aren’t. I also have no doubt that a guard, gay or not, would shoot me between the eyes with his SIG Sauer P220 9mm automatic if I tried to steal a saintly relic.

            The interesting point, to me, is the culture that created and perpetuates this ghastly, wasteful display. I wonder how much the Vatican spends on the Swiss Guards. It must be in the millions.

            1. Well, as for the culture that created that display, late medieval and Renaissance warfare and politics are what you should take into account. Many if not most Major European courts had Swiss mercenary guards at their service in the 16th and later centuries. By the 19th Century the Swiss government made serving in foreign armies illegal, with the sole exception of those serving the Vatican. I must say that of all questionable and many criminal activities the Vatican can be criticized for, employing for historical reasons a few hundred Swiss recruits for its police force and sometimes dressing them in rather boldly-colored baggy outfits ranks rather low on the absolute scale of evil. This particular story I find more interesting for what it tells us about the hypocrisy of the Vatican’s position on homosexuality, as well as the predatory tendencies of some of the Vatican’s employees.

              As for your repeating negative characterization of the uniforms as “gay”, I agree with Occam, and find it rather, let’s say, peculiar.

        2. I think the Vatican Swiss Guards are more gay than the Yeomen of the Guard,

          It is plausible that this is correct, but principally because the requirements for joining the Yeomen are something like 25 years completed service in the regular army without a single charge on file. Gays are hardly (fnarr, fnarr) rampant (fnarr, fnarr) in today’s army, and 25 years ago there were fewer. Many of the current members (fnarrr, fnarrr) of the Swiss guard hadn’t been born when the current Yeomen started their qualification period.

            1. Is that the pom-pom slippers in Syntagma Square? Yes, it is.
              Someone really, really hated his time in the army, and later got taken on to design their ceremonial uniforms. At least, that’s the most rational explanation I can come up with.

  5. There is a bitter-sweet side to the story of the Swiss Guard propositioned by gay clergy in the Vatican. Obviously because the Church, even from the Old Testament, has had a nasty anti-gay side to it. Worth saying again that our modern clergy are not anti-gay because they have learnt it from the bible, but because the particular Brain Operating System that trips people into religion has within it a whole range of peculiar brain-worms, sometimes internally contradictory. I have investigated those peculiar hidden beliefs in some detail. The rev Ted Haggard was a brilliant example of the inner demon hidden inside so many religious people.

    A survey long ago had 41% of the English Protestant clergy admitting to be gay, but the real number is double or more. Many of those gay men, in fear of their inner proclivities, marry, have kids, ignore the kids and apply cruel mind-games to their decoy wives.
    And the Catholic Church has serious problems of its own making. While its many, many gay clergy hide under women’s clothes and the game of celibacy, that church also seeks to deny and hide evidence of widespread paedophilia, and so the public see a horrible blurring of the two. If the Church were to encourage its gay men to come out, then the Church may begin to find the will to oppose paedophilia in its ranks.

    Because I have worked as a director in theatre and in showbiz, I know gay people well, and have been solid and encouraging to help gay people out. This world would be immeasurably improved if so many gay people were not entrapped in self-deceit, including those at the Vatican, which is a gay institution.

    The greater problem is for gay women for whom life is often like running through barbed wire. I ran a training course at my Television production company; mostly women, and over half the women were gay. They were grateful for the openness of our company. And the gay women were better than any other group at making television. It seemed to me something to do with not having an ego, and preferring to earn a reputation rather than to force one’s face onto the screen. It cannot be overstated that gay women have contributed disproportionately to our society; especially in education, health, the Arts and politics.

    And the sweet side? Continuing evidence of the extraordinary hypocrisy and double-think so very characteristic of the religious.

  6. Of course, the real “sin” here is the hypocrisy.

    But not just your average hypocrisy; hypocrisy that perpetuates a truly harmful prejudice.

    God, the Catholic Church is so awful.

  7. I have read that 80% of priestly child sex abuse victims are boys, and that in the general population about 10% of child molestation cases are homosexual, about the same as the percentage of gays in the population.

    This suggests that a very large percentage of RC priests are homosexual.

    Nothing wrong with that except the RC church is a leading opponent of equal rights for gays and pronounces homosexuality to be sinful and disordered.


    1. Maybe I’m misreading you, but…homosexuality and pedophilia are not related. If the pedophiles in the church are abusing mostly boys, I assume it is because that is who they have access to.

      1. mordacious1, I’m not suggesting a causal relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. Quite the opposite, I’m saying the data suggest that homosexuals are just as likely to be pedophiles as heterosexuals. Thus the fact that the large majority of pedophile priests and their victims are male does not suggest that homosexual priests are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexual priests, but rather that most priests are homosexual. Your suggestion that the priests just have more access to boys is probably true, although many priests have plenty of access to girls as well. But I think that most people, priest or not, are attracted to have sex with one gender or another, not both. Thus it seems more likely that the abusive priests are homosexuals rather than bisexuals who select boys just because they have more access to them.

        1. From what I’ve read, child molestation doesn’t have anything to do with sexual orientation at all. To say, “This suggests that a very large percentage of RC priests are homosexual” is misleading. Studies have shown that many (possibly most) child molesters don’t have an adult sexual orientation at all. They’re interested in children. They may have a preference, but this doesn’t make them homosexual or heterosexual.

          Most men who molest male children are not homosexual.

          The Vatican’s early response to allegations of child abuse by priests was: “That’s why we shouldn’t allow gays to be priests”. They were wrong about that, of course.

          1. Complicating matters, of course, is that an eighteen-year-old-person attracted to a seventeen-year-old person is legally in much the same position as an octogenarian attracted to toddlers, and highschoolers doing the “sexting” thing have been considered simultaneously both creators and traffickers of child pornography and victims of child pornographers.

            I don’t at all want to condone abusive relationships, but it’s pretty clear that the reality in America is abusive in the opposite direction, and in a profoundly unhealthy way for children and society both.

            Believe me, I’m not alone amongst single males who don’t want to ever be alone with anybody under 18. Not because I have “impure” thoughts; quite the contrary. Rather, the risks of somebody even breathing of hinting at the potential of the possibility of the appearance of something that could be construed as verging on inappropriate if you squint at it a certain way, and the consequences should that happen…nope. Not worth it.

            Of course, that doesn’t necessarily matter. It’d be trivial for somebody to email you some pictures and then call the police to look in your spam folder. Same end result.

            It’s not good for people to fear children and to fear being around them. Not good for anybody.



            1. If, as you suggest, single men are wary of any other person being given the ammunition to suggest that they may be guilty of sexual impropriety, are we not on the edge of the same precipice that some cultures descended into aeons ago, giving rise to ‘honour killings’.

              The ‘necessity’ for an honour killing often requires no evidence, just the suggestion that A has seen boy B speak to girl C.

              A neighbourhood vigilante mob needs little encouragement to torch a house if they think that a paedophile resides there.

      2. I think you are misreading. He says the percentage of male victims in the general population is the same as the percentage of gays.

        The assumption here is that men with *any* adult sexual orientation are likely, if they act on any pedophiliac tendencies they possess, to molest children corresponding to that orientation – or at least that the exceptions go both ways comparably.

        I don’t know if any of that is true, but that’s the assumption being made here. Given that assumption, the fact that male victims aren’t overrepresented in the general population suggests more gay men in the clergy. This isn’t – so far as I can tell – a homophobic hypothesis (not that it matters in evaluating it for truth or falsity)

  8. OK folks, here’s the original newspaper report the Irish Times drew from.

    So far, it appears to be the only one quoting the young man directly. Everything else is a re-hash.

    The Swiss press has been surprisingly muted on the subject.
    (Surprisingly, since there is a long tradition of anti-papist resentment in the Protestant parts of the country.)

  9. The Catholic Church: An organisation run exclusively by men, to the not inconsiderable benefit of those men, all of whom are supposed to be celibate, some of whom are gay, some of whole are paedophiles, which presumes to order large swathes of the outside population that even gay thoughts are a sin, how the general population of heterosexual couples should conduct their sex lives and, of course, being non-reproductive, one way or another, that contraception, also, is a sin.

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