GENDARME COMMANDER INTERVIEWED BY VATICAN MEDIA
Following is my English translation of the interview that Vatican Gendarme Commander Domenico Giani gave to Vatican media that was sent to media outlets today:
Giani: Gratitude for having been able to serve the Pope with honor until the end
The Commander of the Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, in talking to Vatican media, emphasizes his gratitude to the Pope for the service he has been able to perform in the Vatican in recent years
By Alessandro Gisotti, Deputy Editorial Director of the Communication Department
A delicate moment of great personal trial, but lived inwardly with serenity, encouraged by the trust and support of the Holy Father, his family and the many collaborators and people who in various ways in these years have known him and appreciated his human and professional qualities. Domenico Giani, Commander of the Gendarmerie Corps, in an interview with the Vatican media, talks about the feelings with which he leaves the service, and underlines his gratitude to the Pope who recognized his honor, loyalty and fidelity in his daily work.
After 20 years of service to the Pope and the Holy See as head of the Gendarme Corps, you leave it at a delicate moment and certainly one that is not easy for you. What are your feelings as you live this moment?
I’m living this difficult moment with the inner serenity that those who know me know has marked my lifestyle, even in the face of painful events. I have dedicated 38 years of my life to institutions, first in Italy, and then for 20 years in the Vatican to the Roman Pontiff. In these years I have spent all my energy to ensuring the service entrusted to me. I tried to do it with self-denial and professionalism, but with the feeling, as the Gospel two weeks ago reminded us, of being a serene “useless servant” who did his small part up to the end.
In the press release issued by the press office, it was underlined that you resigned while not having “any subjective responsibility” in the affair …
The recent events caused serious pain for the Holy Father and this deeply affected me. Fifteen days have passed since the publication of the document that was forwarded for internal use exclusively by the Gendarmes and the Swiss Guards. As indicated in the October 1 press release, an investigation is underway and the persons involved have been reached by an administrative provision. The release of this document, published by some media outlets, has certainly trampled on the dignity of these people. I too, as Commander, felt ashamed at what happened and at the suffering caused to these people. For this reason, having always said and testified to being ready to sacrifice my life to defend that of the Pope, with this same spirit I made the decision to resign so as not to damage the image and activity of the Holy Father in any way. And this, assuming that “objective responsibility” that only a commander can feel.
The Pope stressed that both the resignation and the service performed in these years “do honor to your person”. How important is this for you?
During the talks I had with the Holy Father these days, I always felt the paternity that marked the special relationship I had with him, since the beginning of the Pontificate, and I think I can say that this was visible to everyone. In these meetings, I have always felt the human suffering of the Holy Father in a shared decision. The Pope, however, also knew some personal hardships that I had been carrying for months and my desire to devote more time to my family, my wife and my children. I am therefore deeply grateful to the Holy Father because his attesting to my loyalty, honor and fidelity with which I carried out my service helps me to face the future and the new commitments that I’ll be able to take on within the framework of my skills with serenity after this extraordinary experience.
In 20 years the Gendarmerie has served three Popes. For the media, this corps is the Pope’s “guardian angel” for its role in protecting the person of the Holy Father. What does this unique experience bring you personally?
I’ve had the honor of serving three Popes. First of all, I remember with great emotion Saint John Paul II who called me to serve in the Vatican and whom I accompanied up to the end of his life. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the esteem and affection of Benedict XVI at whose side I’ve faced very delicate questions but always receiving his appreciation and his trust. The pontificate of Pope Francis, because of his style marked by proximity to people and spontaneity in gestures, was a further great challenge with significant and particular moments: I especially remember his pilgrimage to Lampedusa, the apostolic journey to Brazil for the WYD and that taken to the Central African Republic. If I close my eyes, endless scenes of the almost 70 international apostolic journeys I have followed, of countless pastoral visits to Rome and Italy, and of so many private moments with three Pontiffs, pass before me. Alongside this, I like to recall that, under my command, the Gendarmerie has developed a whole series of charitable activities and service to the least of our brothers as the Gospel asks us.
What message do you leave to your men, to the Gendarme Corps, that you led in these difficult years?
On the occasion of the last celebration of the Gendarme Corps, I focused on some qualities that should distinguish our men: discipline, obedience, fraternity, charity and humanity. To this I wish to add unity in fidelity, despite some physiological situations that have caused me understandable sorrows. The Corps, as I also emphasized to the Holy Father these days, is healthy and well prepared. I have always tried, together with my collaborators, to train people who could be good gendarmes and, with the precious help of chaplains, even good Christians. I am sure that the person who succeeds me in this delicate task will find fertile ground, the same that that I received from the late Commander Cibin to whom I dedicate a deferential memory. One last thought, filled with my gratitude and my love, goes to my wife Chiara and my children Luca and Laura. They supported a life filled with satisfactions but also of great sacrifices and denials. Despite the current moment of uncertainty, even the personal moment that I am experiencing, I know that Providence, to which I always refer, will show us the way that certainly is that of the Lord.