The Pope has one of the oldest standing military units in the world, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II. Generally throughout history this private militia, populated by top ex-Swiss soldiers, has functioned as a personal bodyguard service for the Pontiff, with total numbers rarely exceeding one hundred.
Observers were first intrigued and then alarmed to witness Pope Francis increase these numbers dramatically upon assuming the papacy, with figures now conservatively estimated at ‘ten to twelve thousand’ free standing elite warriors under his command, with further recruitment drives planned.
Popular opinion in the Vatican has it that the Pope is responding to current wars, natural disasters, and famine, and feels the need for an increased military presence, more than any of his predecessors in history. The times dictate what the Pope must do. And the times are changing.
Vatican observers have started to joke that Francis is no longer heads of a church with a military unit, but is now head of an army with a religious arm.
L’Observatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper of the Holy See, says that a ‘climate for war’ is being accelerated by the ‘terrifying crisis’ currently striking the European Union’s major players, threatening to collapse them. Behind closed doors the Pope is said to believe the Syrian war is a Holy War, and Christians of all stripes, in all guises, must be protected from extermination.
The Pope’s recent visit to South and Central America was partly a recruitment drive, a call to arms. He issued an invitation to immediate and direct action to thousands of physically able, devout young men and recruited them to his cause. There have been similar recruitment drives in Poland and Croatia, with plans to recruit from Ireland and the Philippines in coming months.
Western mainstream media has been strangely quiet as the Pope has rapidly increased the numbers of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and so far Francis has controlled his army as he sees fit, without recourse to the United Nations or any of the countries involved in the Syrian war. It is unclear at present whether the Pope’s army falls out of the jurisdiction of the UN, or if Pope Francis is, as he believes, above their law.
This passionate, fiery Pope is seen by Vatican insiders as the Pope for the end times. It is believed the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, was removed from the papacy to make way for Francis as a matter of urgency, as he is the ‘man for the end of days, and the end days have begun.’
Pope Francis has also issued calls to arms in several daily homilies in the chapel of the Vatican guest house. He has shared devilish stories with the small congregations. They have sat rapt in attention as this intelligent Jesuit pope homilized on previously taboo topics within the church.
Promising to speak about forgiveness, Francis regularly goes off topic, instead giving masterful, unscripted addresses to the congregation, gaining enthusiasm as he continues, speaking faster and faster as secrets and future plans for his gathered army fall from his lips in a manner unthinkable in any of his predecessor popes.
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