SWITZERLAND (LifeSiteNews) — On September 26, the Swiss people will vote in a referendum on the question of whether or not there should be “marriage for all.” Swiss Bishop Joseph Maria Bonnemain, the new Catholic bishop of Chur, has now repeatedly entered the debate, claiming that he has no objections to same-sex unions and “marriages,” but asking that the marriage between man and woman then will be re-named in order to “differentiate.” At no point does he present the Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts.
Bonnemain is following here the pontiff’s own lead, since Pope Francis seemed to have a similar position when he publicly endorsed same-sex civil unions – while not calling them “marriage” – and when he at the same time remained silent on the Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts.
On October, 21, 2020, a documentary called Francesco premiered in Rome. In that film, the Pope said the following words about homosexual civil unions: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
With his own comments, Bishop Bonnemain seems to be in alignment here with Pope Francis’ position. As LifeSiteNews reported in February, Bonnemain had been appointed against the will of the local ecclesiastical authorities, which, according to local rules, have a say in the appointment of a new bishop. After they had rejected Bonnemain, Pope Francis himself was free to choose a new bishop, and he did so. One of the first public steps of Bonnemain then was to announce that he would not have his own episcopal coat of arms – a very unusual decision. Additionally, in one of his first interviews after his installment as the bishop of Chur, Bonnemain showed himself in a work-out room lifting weights.
The 73-year-old Bishop Bonnemain is a member of Opus Dei, and his public acceptance of same-sex unions does not seem to trouble Opus Dei. However, at the same time, Opus Dei has recently suspended an African priest, Father Jesusmary, for rebuking Pope Francis’s public support of same-sex civil unions. As Father Jesusmary told LifeSiteNews in August: “On March 4, 2021, I received a letter from the Vicar of Opus Dei in Côte d’Ivoire informing me that I was banned from public Masses, confessions, and preaching due to my activity on Facebook and Twitter, which was perceived as directly attacking the Pope.” He sees now, since the pope’s public endorsement of same-sex civil unions, “an apparent victory of situation ethics over traditional Catholic morality.”
This new development in Africa raises the question as to where Opus Dei stands: are they still loyal to the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church – as also defended by their protector and promoter, Pope John Paul II – or have they too now adapted to the new Bergoglian magisterium of approving same-sex relationships?
Let us consider first Bonnemain’s own statements made in recent weeks in light of the upcoming Septemer 26 referendum in Switzerland. On August 17, Bonnemain participated in a discussion hosted by the Swiss public broadcast channel SRF. In this discussion, he was asked if he would oppose a certain woman (Miss S.) who wishes to marry her female partner. He answered: “I have nothing against it.”
“I am only of the opinion that any form of discrimination should be removed and that, at the same time, there takes place a reasonable differentiation,” he continued, adding that for him it is merely about “whether different things are being called the same name.”
That is to say: Bishop Bonnemain is approving of homosexual “marriage” and pleads only to make a semantic differentiation.
Later on, on August 26, the Swiss prelate published an article in which he further explained his thoughts: “I think it is good and right that, in the realm of the state, different forms of stable relationships are given rights and duties and, at the voting booth, everybody (male and female) should decide freely and based on one’s own conviction what is best to protect and promote these partnerships.”
Bishop Bonnemain, once again, positively approves of same-sex civil unions.
“It is for me self-evident that other forms of partnership can be oriented toward an enduring love, as well,” he expounded.
“My only concern is – and here I am neither judging nor dismissing: I plead for maintaining this difference when naming [these different “marriages”].”
Moreover, Bishop Bonnemain pleads in his above-quoted article that readers not forget original marriage, which he now tries to call “bio-marriage,” even though he admits that this term is a bit awkward. But the fact is that his adaptation to the spirit of the age goes so far as not even to call for a re-naming of these new forms of “marriage,” but instead to propose giving a new name to traditional marriage. Accordingly, one participant of the August 17 Swiss television discussion asked Bishop Bonnemain if his proposals were not merely “semantic refinements.”
When asked if he would approve equal rights for different forms of marriage as long as traditional marriage is renamed, Bishop Bonenmain responded with the words: “Yes, I have nothing against our country giving them [new forms of “marriage”] equal rights.” He simply wishes that traditional marriage, with husband and wife, with children and grandparents, does not “get forgotten” because such a traditional marriage is an “enrichment” for society.
While ignoring the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, Bishop Bonnemain also expounded that “God loves us all and He will always love us all, independently of how we conduct ourselves, how we feel; that is the foundation of our Christian faith.” He then pleaded for a “specialized pastoral care” for homosexual couples, but only in the beginning because, in the end, after an “integration of a diversity” and “independent of the sexual orientation,” each person can be integrated into one’s own parish.” That is to say, such a “specialized pastoral care” is to be “merely an intermittent solution.”
Later in the televised discussion – and returning to his own concept of calling traditional marriage a “bio-marriage” – Bonnemain admitted that this formulation was not so good, but insisted that this form of marriage is the “original, Christian-Jewish, Biblical partnership.” Here, the aspect of “procreation” also gets a mention. “I as a physician know,” the Swiss prelate stated, “that reproductive medicine is not a trifle. The consequences, sometimes psychological ones, the burden for the couples is [sic] not to be neglected.”
When in May of this year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement against the blessing of homosexual couples, Bishop Bonnemain distanced himself from it by calling the ban “a provocation.” He also called a provocation the subsequent public blessing of homosexual couples that took place in his diocese under the leadership of a homosexual Catholic priest; he thereby placed both the Church’s magisterium and a revolt against it on the same level. He was now, however, asking for more “dialogue.”