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Pope Francis being interviewed by Televisa journalist Valentina Alazraki, May 28, 2019.Vatican News - Español / Youtube screen grab

SWITZERLAND, November 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In a historic move, the 22 members of the cathedral canons called to elect a new bishop of the Diocese of Chur in Grisons, Switzerland rejected with a majority the list of three candidates for the new bishop. Chur has been traditionally the last conservative diocese of the generally very liberal Catholic dioceses in Switzerland. The Pope's list had three clearly progressivist candidates, all of whom were now rejected by the dome chapter.

The last bishop of Chur, Vitus Huonder, was known for his strong stance against abortion and Communion for “remarried” divorcees. He had issued in February of 2017 guidelines on marriage, reaffirming the Church's continuous teaching against Communion for divorced and “remarried” couples. Huonder had also re-iterated Humanae Vitae's rejection of contraceptives. Since Huonder's retirement a year and a half ago, the diocese was left without a bishop since there are many forces in liberal Switzerland who wish for a liberalizing new bishop who would be less “controversial” and more adapting to the zeitgeist.

According to well-informed sources in Switzerland, some liberal bishops in Switzerland – among them the bishops of Basel, St. Gallen, and the Abbot of the Monastery of Einsiedeln – were able to convince Pope Francis to put together three candidates two of whom do not even come from Chur. By people in Chur, this papal move is seen as a “takeover” by progressivist forces in the Catholic Church.

The Chur diocese was the only Swiss diocese who still protected faithful Catholics and even promoted an apostolate for the traditional Latin Mass that was headed by a member of the Fraternity of St. Peter.

As one source told LifeSite, “the three candidates on the list were obviously meant to silence the voice of the Diocese of Chur that so far has deviated from the mainstream in today's society.”

The names of the candidates are Official Joseph Bonnemain, Abbot Vigeli Monn, OSB of Disentis and Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, the General Abbot of the Cistercian order. The only candidate who stems from Chur, Joseph Bonnemain, is 72 years of age and is, due to his advanced age, not a good candidate for a diocese that looks for continuity.

Unlike the Dioceses of Basel and St. Gallen, who are allowed to chose their own bishops from the ranks of their own clergy, the Pope chose with his own list, “to force on the Diocese of Chur monks who had never been vicars or pastors in the pastoral field,” one source told LifeSite. None of these candidates are used to the strong ideological battle that is taking place in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, with the Diocese of Basel, for example, heavily endorsing homosexual couples. For the 2015 Synod on the Family in Rome, the Swiss bishops had decided to send to Rome a pro-homosexual activist as an observer. In the midst of this atmosphere of heterodoxy, the Pope's decision to side with the progressivist in Switzerland has a controversial character.

The press speaker of the Diocese of Chur, Giuseppe Gracia, declined to comment on these developments. LifeSite shall keep our readers updated on the further developments in Chur after the rejection of the papal list of candidates.

With this new move of trying to force upon the Diocese of Chur a candidate according to the wishes of the progressivist Catholic Church in Switzerland, Pope Francis once more shows his desire to liberalize the Catholic Church and to change the Church's stance concerning such important moral issues such as homosexuality, marriage, and abortion. Only a few weeks ago, news broke of an interview where he appears to endorse the establishment of civil unions for same-sex couples.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.