When the tradition-friendly bishop of Chur in Switzerland, His Excellency Vitus Huonder, turned 75, the liberal, Swiss Church establishment expected the Holy Father to accept his resignation at once. But, to their surprise, Pope Francis only accepted his resignation nunc pro tunc— that is, he is to stay on for another two years.
Bishop Huonder has supported the traditional Mass in his diocese, and has been criticized by more liberal elements in the Swiss Church — including a fellow bishop — for his uncompromising defense of Catholic morality. He has been opposed by the same rebellious elements of the diocese of Chur that were successful in ousting one of his predecessors (His Excellency Wolgang Haas, now Archbishop of Liechtenstein). A source within the diocese of Chur has told Rorate Caeli that it was Bishop Huonder who asked Pope Francis to grant the priests of the SSPX faculties for confession. In an interview with the Luzerner Zeitung, Bishop Huonder says that he has a good rapport with Pope Francis.
We present some further passages from the Luzerner Zeitung interview in a Rorate translation:
Luzerner Zeitung: Since the affair of Bishop Haas Chur has been considered a problem diocese. How do You explain that?
Bishop Vitus Huonder: The pastors of this diocese have always tried to act in complete conformity with the doctrine and discipline of the Church. That has been resisted in certain circles. The life of the Church, including in Chur, is sadly infected with deviations from Church doctrine and discipline, and with abuses in the liturgy. Infections are generally accompanied by fever. But fever helps an organism to regain its health. The fever that everyone can diagnose in the diocese of Chur is therefore also a good sign.
LZ: You accuse your opponents of criticizing you in the media, rather than face to face?
VH: That has been my experience. Certain critics do not want things to calm down. They want to change the traditional doctrine of the Church, or her discipline, for example with respect to Holy Orders or celibacy. Those are not goals that I can support. I think that a bishop should not change the doctrine of the Church, but on the contrary, he should faithfully pass it on. …
LZ: You shocked many of the faithful when you quoted passages of the Old Testament that say that homosexuality should receive the death penalty. Was that a purposeful provocation?
VH: No. That was not a provocation, but rather a reminder of principles. …
LZ: Do you like being the most controversial bishop in Switzerland?
VH: I only do what I promised to do at my episcopal ordination: I stay faithful to the Faith of the Church. That gives me joy. Everything that I advocate belongs to the Deposit of Faith of the Universal Church. If I thereby provoke parts of society, I cannot change that. In Jesus’s time too the Faith was a provocation.