Diocese of Chur: Conflict Regarding the Successor of the Faithful Bishop Huonder Ignites
Progressive Insurrection in the Diocese of Chur
(Bern) Progressive Swiss Catholics are again attempting an uprising. Several movements have launched a petition "It's enough!" [Es Reicht!]. In this way they demand the appointment of an Apostolic Administrator for the Bishopric of Chur by Pope Francis. The leader of the insurrection is the regional Vicar General, Martin Kopp, who has been responsible for central Switzerland since 2002.
The Diocese of Chur in Switzerland is one of the oldest and most important diocese in the German-speaking world. It also includes Romansh Switzerland and the Italian valleys of Graubünden. Once, parts of Tyrol and Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein belonged to the diocese.
Progressive fight against Chur's Bishop
Not only is Graubünden subject to the Bishop of Chur, but also other Swiss cantons, namely Schwyz, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri, Glarus, and the canton of Zurich, which has been reformed for 500 years and has been liberal for 200 years. This has not a little to do with the attacks by progressive Church circles against the Chur bishops, which have lasted for decades.
Bishop Wolfgang Haas, who was enthroned in 1990, had so much resistance against him that the Vatican withdrew him. For this, the Principality of Liechtenstein was separated from Chur and designated as an independent diocese. In order to express the disapproval with the Swiss progressives, the Vatican made Vaduz an Archdiocese and Haas its first archbishop.
As Bishop of Chur he was followed for ten years by the hermit Benedictine Amédée Grab. The Liberals, whom he tried to involve, calmed down somewhat, but then, with all the greater intolerance, have rebeled against Bishop Vitus Huonder, who has been in office since 2007.
Yesterday: Own Diocese of Zurich - Today: no Bishop
Occasions are always found when the basic consensus is denied, because a "different" church has long been desired. Since it was not possible to force Bishop Huonder to his knees, the canton of Zurich wants to secede and establish itself as an independent diocese. 30 per cent of Zurichers profess themselves as Reformed, 27 per cent as Catholics.
On April 21, 2017, Bishop Huonder will complete his 75th year of life. In Chur no one really expects that Pope Francis would extend his office.
It's about the succession. The progressive church circles dream of a "reformed" church, which is remote from Rome. In this picture the Pope is especially disturbing to these same circles, even if he is called Francis. For this reason, there is a demand for a separate diocese of Zurich has now been abandoned. Chur is an ancient diocese, Zurich would be a new diocese and would be more directly under the supervision and control of Rome. They do not want that at all!
This is why the new suggestion by Bishop Sikar Kopp is not to appoint a successor but to appoint an apostolic administrator. The Progressives want to prevent a second bishop Haas or a second Bishop Huonder and would like to have a bishop separate from Rome.
"Without a new beginning the Diocese of Chur is dead," exclaimed episcopal vicar Martin Kopp on 24 October in the Daily News, which repeatedly turned to attacks against Bishop Huonder and the Catholic Church. "It can not go on like this so far," says Kopp, who had already conflicted in the past with his bishop and closest collaborators. He has defended "homo-blessings" and liturgical slapstick.
"Tensions" provoked by Progressives
The faithful Chur Society of Priests replied on the 26th of October that although we share Kopp's view that "tensions in the diocese of Chur" must be overcome. "However, regardless of whether the diocese is governed by a newly elected bishop or an apostolic administrator, this person must fulfill the mission of the Church, which every bishop assumes upon his consecration." And further: "To reduce tension in the diocese of Chur, Chur's priesthood pleads for more prudence and self-reflection, with the help of the Gospel. The latter moves us to contradict the regional Vicar-General: Hope dies last, and for the diocese of Chur, the proverb is that those declared dead live longer!"
The "tensions" in the Bishopric of Chur are attributed above all to the public-law Landeskirchen. Their existence is a peculiarity of Switzerland, which is connected with the Reformation and with the victory of the Liberals in 1847. In contrast to the state, the diocese is not a corresponding partner (church tax, parish property, finances, annual budget, employees), but to the canton which a corporation in public law, called a "Landeskirche", which must be democratically constituted by law. What applies to the cantonal level continues in every parish. In addition to the church-legal structure there is a state-church structure parallel to all levels (federation, cantons, municipalities).
In the historically Catholic cantons, the church has more room for maneuver. In the historically reformed cantons, including Zurich, the Protestant constitution is imposed upon the Catholic Church. The tone is not given by the diocese, but by the public-law body "Roman-Catholic Landeskirche". As is known in the Catholic Union in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Austria, the bodies of these committees are very progressive. And 500 years of the formation of the Reformation seem to encourage new elements of Protestantism imposed upon parts of the Catholic Church.
The progressive initiative wants petition to continue by the end of the year, then the petition, including signatures will be handed over to the Apostolic Nuncio and the Swiss Bishops' Conference.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Diocese of Chur / SMM (screenshots)
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