I just saw this video from Jan. 20, in which a fan was able to grab Pope Francis.
It speaks to an increasingly obvious truth: the Pontificial Swiss Guard needs dramatic improvement.
We can say that with confidence due to the basic quality of failures that the Pontiff's security team often show. In the case of the video above, with the exception of his detail leader (the bald guy), Francis' protection officers should have been facing outwards towards the approach of any possible assailant. Imagine if the Catholic worshipper had been an attacker? She would have been able to stab, shoot, or detonate an explosive and assassinate the 81-year-old man.
In contrast, note the two screenshots below, one from a U.S. Secret Service training session prior to the 2017 inauguration and one from the inauguration. As the protectee turns inward or lies idle, the agents are looking outwards, towards the prospective threats.
This is basic stuff, and yet the Swiss Guard rarely use these tactics when they are out and about with the Pope. Watch a news report of the Pope traveling around the world and you're likely to see only one or two guards close by. They sometimes have their jackets done up, which reduces their ability to reach for a baton or firearm, and they almost never stand at the hands-ready position (which shaves a second off response times to an attacker).
Again, this is basic stuff.
Yet with groups like the Islamic State determined to assassinate the leader of the Catholic church, and having already succeeded in assassinating at least one Catholic priest in Europe, these security failings are utterly unacceptable.
So what can be done?
Well, put simply, the Vatican should make a diplomatic request to the U.S. Embassy that some of the Pope's guards be able to train with either the Diplomatic Security Service or the Secret Service. Doing so would give them proficiency in the finer details of close protection work and enable them to return home to share their knowledge with other guards.
Nevertheless, the current state of affairs cannot continue.