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Pope promotes Swiss Guard’s No. 2 to top post

February 7, 2015

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Saturday promoted the No. 2 officer of the Swiss Guards to commander of the colorful, 500-year-old army, whose members take an oath to protect pontiffs.

The Vatican said that Lt. Col. Christoph Graf will now command the guardsmen, who stand vigilant during papal ceremonies.

Graf, who joined the Guards in 1987, takes the place of Col. Daniel Anrig, who had been commander since 2008.

Francis didn’t elaborate about why he asked Anrig to step down, except to say it was time for “renewal.” Anrig said in a recent interview that he didn’t ask why he was sent packing. There were reports that Anrig’s style, described as severe, didn’t synch with Francis’ informality. The pontiff, in an interview in December, denied that Anrig was removed because he was too rigid.

Anrig has noted the Guards’ security responsibilities expanded with Francis’ decision to live in a Vatican hotel instead of in the Apostolic Palace.

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