Three Swiss Guards quit Vatican to avoid covid vaccine

Vatican reportedly suspends three other Swiss Guards until they get vaccinated.

Three members of the Swiss Guard, the small army responsible for protecting the pope, have quit their prestigious posts for refusing to comply with the Vatican's covid-19 protocols.

The "voluntary" departure of the three soldiers, who chose to abandon the small papal army rather than get the covid-19 vaccine, was confirmed by Swiss Guard spokesman Urs Breitenmoser to Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve, reports Crux.

The news comes after Pope Francis ushered in a new order, effective from 1 October, requiring Vatican employees to either be vaccinated or provide a negative covid test every 48 hours.

However due to their work in close proximity to the 84-year-old pope, the Swiss Guards are obliged to receive the covid vaccine, according to Crux.

The Associated Press reports that the Vatican has suspended three other Swiss Guards until they are fully vaccinated.

As of 1 October those who enter the Vatican must have the covid Green Pass, issued by the Vatican or the EU, "or a foreign covid-19 green pass attesting to vaccination or recovery" from covid.

Access is also granted to those who have a negative molecular or antigenic covid test, reports Vatican News.

The only exception to entering the Vatican for events without the Green Pass are liturgical ceremonies and Masses celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica and the parish of S. Anna, and the Sunday weekly Angelus in St Peter's Square, Crux reports.

Pope Francis, a strong advocate of covid vaccines, said in mid-September that everyone in the Vatican is vaccinated "except a small group that we are working out how to help," adding: "Even in the College of Cardinals there are some vaccine deniers."

The pontiff, who is vaccinated, went on to say there was a cardinal "hospitalised with the virus, poor fellow," an apparent reference to conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke, a noted vaccine sceptic who recently spent several days on a ventilator in intensive care after contracting the coronavirus.

In October last year, 11 Swiss Guards tested positive for covid-19 and were placed in isolation.

The 132 current Swiss Guards belong to the world's oldest standing army which celebrated its 515th anniversary earlier this year.

The guards must be male and of Swiss nationality, as well as being Catholic, unmarried and aged between 19 and 30.

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