Swiss Guard's New Leader Hopes the Members Stay Longer

Elmar Theodor Mäder, Father of 3, Takes Over Papal Corps

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2002 ( The Swiss Guard’s new leader hopes he can encourage his men to stay on for longer tours of duty.

Until Saturday, Elmar Theodor Mäder, 39, a native of the canton of Saint Gallen, was vice commander of the world’s smallest military corps. Now he is its new commander.

The Vatican preferred to promote a Swiss guard from the same corps, rather than a member of the Swiss Army or police, as was the case of Mäder’s predecessor, Pius Segmüller.

Segmüller, who for personal reasons handed in his resignation to the Pope last September, has been appointed chief of police of the Swiss canton of Lucerne, his native city.

He led the Swiss Guard after the murder of his predecessor, Alois Estermann, on May 4, 1998. Estermann and his wife were killed by Chief Corporal Cedric Tornay, who then committed suicide, according to Vatican reports.

Under Segmüller’s command, the Swiss Guard was given new disciplinary, promotional and organizational rules.

Mäder, married and father of three, has clear ideas about the future of the corps.

«There is no need for big changes,» he said. «We must foster formation and education for recruitment, thus encouraging the new guards to stay among us one more year.» At present, Swiss Guards offer their service for two years.

«Experience counts a lot in our work, and it is too bad to form a young man and then to see him go,» he added. Among other things, the Swiss Guards are now trained in information technology.

Mäder, who has a degree in law, and was a former fiscal agent in Switzerland, said that «to protect the Pope is a most exciting — a new challenge every day, which requires sensitivity and great commitment.»

Mäder is already planning festivities for 2006, when the Swiss Guards, founded by Pope Julius II, will celebrate their 500th anniversary.

«It will be an important moment; we will celebrate it accordingly,» he said.

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