"Tell Francis that we're big softies really."
In the past the Swiss Guard was expected to behave like any other group of soldiers. "How many divisions has the Pope?" asked Stalin, and under Pope Francis the Catholic Church has more divisions than ever before. But from now on, if any crazed atheist breaks into the Vatican and tries to arrest the Pope (or, for that matter, if someone tries to steal some of its treasures), they are to be welcomed in and offered a cup of tea; under no circumstances should they be opposed by force.
A crazed atheist may look something like this.
The traditional weapon of the Swiss Guard - the Swiss Guard Army Knife - is being redesigned. No longer will there be attachments for disembowelling Tony Flannery, for pulling out the toenails of Hans Küng, or for tickling Tina Beattie. Instead, there is an iPod loaded with Argentinian dance music (for use in Masses), a miniature thurible, a candle, and of course the usual attachment for removing stones from horses' hooves. However, in the words of Flanders and Swann:
He seldom, if ever meets a horse (It is this that makes him sad): When he does then it hasn't a stone in its hoof, But he would if he did and it had!Said one disgruntled Swiss guard yesterday, "I joined the papal army in order to kill Muslims and Protestants, but my halberd has never seen any serious action. They don't like it up 'em, you know..."
If he doesn't stop reading out bits of Austen Ivereigh's book, I'll hit him.
So no longer will the Swiss Guard be allowed to sing "Onward, Christian soldiers" or to take potshots at passing heretics. From now on, there will be a new Swiss Role, and the soldiers will only engage in peaceful pursuits such as dressmaking, washing up, and, of course cooking (mostly pasta).
The Swiss Guard cookbook (this is real).
As Orson Welles put it: "In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."