Cologne cathedral provost welcomes ‘enrichment’ of hiring women

Seven months ago, Cologne cathedral broke with centuries of tradition by allowing women to help keep order in the church. The experience has been a positive one, according to Provost Gerd Bachner.

“We have not regretted the step of also hiring women,” he told dpa.

The building is policed by people known as the Domschweizer (Cathedral Swiss), who wear long red robes lined with black velvet and black hats.

The Domschweizer don’t have to be Swiss: The name derives from the 17th and 18th centuries when former Swiss soldiers – considered to be particularly reliable – went to work abroad as guards in the courts of the powerful.

Their job is to answer visitors’ questions about the cathedral, as well as to keep order.

For centuries, it was a role reserved for men. But since mid-May, four of the 30 Domschweizer are women.

“Of course, everyone had to first get used to the new situation – colleagues and visitors,” Bachner said. “But by now, all colleagues have understood that the ladies are an enrichment and have not led to the loss of anything.”

He said it is right for the church to follow the evolution of society.

Visitors to the cathedral have noted that the female Domschweizer “radiate happiness,” Bachner said, adding: “That is the most important: to make people feel welcome in the cathedral.”

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