Gay activists sue Swiss Catholic bishop for inciting violence after he quotes Bible
August 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A homosexual activist group called Pink Cross, the umbrella organization of Swiss male homosexuals, has announced that it will file a lawsuit against Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur, Switzerland. The organization claims that Huonder had publicly called for crimes against homosexuals by quoting the Book of Leviticus at a recent conference in Fulda, Germany.
Bishop Huonder had given this talk on July 31 at a conservative Catholic conference organized by a lay organization, Forum Deutscher Katholiken, that is opposed to the proposals to change and liberalize the Catholic Church's moral teaching on marriage and the family. The conference, “Rejoicing in the Faith” (Freude am Glauben), published a communiqué in which it asks the pope and Synod Fathers to “find answers taken from the sources of knowledge of the Holy Scripture and the Church's Tradition which fill today's life reality of the faithful with new Christian spirit.”
The conference communiqué also states:
We reject the discrimination of people because of their sexual orientation. However, we stress that the notion “marriage” has to be preserved for the Living and Loving Community of one man with one woman. Family is and remains for us the community of father, mother, and child(ren).
Bishop Huonder, in his own contribution to the conference on July 31, had presented essential parts of Holy Scripture – Old and New Testaments – in order to show God's plan for marriage and the family. With regard to homosexuality, he quoted two parts from the Book of Leviticus, saying: “These two parts would be sufficient to give us the right direction with regard to homosexuality, in the light of our Faith.” Both quotes show how the practice of homosexual acts is condemned in Holy Scripture, and with the claim that such persons commit a grave crime and deserve to be put to death. Huonder continues, saying that even to claim that there are a variety of models of marriage and family is already “an attack against the Creator, but also against the Redeemer and against the Sanctifier, that is to say, against the entire Holy Trinity.”
Huonder stresses, “The Faith is a help for all people, also for those with homophilic inclinations, and can lead to a reorientation of these inclinations, to a control of the sexual passions and to an integration of these passions into a virtuous life according God's Command.”
After his speech had caused public uproar throughout the liberal-progressive public, Bishop Huonder had made his own public statement on August 3 in which he apologized for this “misunderstanding,” saying that he in no way intended “to degrade homosexuals.” He himself vowed that he is fully in accordance with the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in this question of homosexuality. After quoting the passages of the Catechism, Huonder concluded:
These words from the Catechism are the foundation for the pastoral care for those who have homosexual feelings which I have stressed in my talk in Fulda and are valid for all the shepherds of our Church, in the unity of the Faith.
The homosexual organization Pink Cross in its own statement declared that, with their filing of a lawsuit in the Canton of Graubünden, it is “reacting to the homophobic statements of the bishop which publicly call for the commission of crimes. This lawsuit is being supported by the Lesbian Organization Switzerland.” Pink Cross claims that Bishop Huonder, by just quoting passages of the Bible – “without any exegesis” – has himself called for hatred and crimes against homosexuals. The statement also claims that Bishop Huonder did not put the quotes “in any context with the teaching of Christ,” but, rather “in a literal sense, and that is not acceptable for us. It sows hatred.” It also stresses that the lawsuit is only aimed at Bishop Huonder personally, saying: “Not all churches are homophobic, and most of the church's representatives – as well as members – not at all. Our suit aims directly at the bishop of Chur.” The statement claims that Bishop Huonder proposed to “re-introduce the death penalty” for homosexual persons.
As of August 10, another private person – from the Swiss Canton St. Gallen – has followed Pink Cross and filed another lawsuit against Bishop Huonder for the same reasons, according to kath.ch. Should Bishop Huonder be indeed judged culpable by the Canton of Graubünden for the alleged claims, he would have to face a punishment of up to three years in prison or a monetary penalty.
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These developments are happening just after the president of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, Bishop Markus Büchel, distanced himself from Bishop Huonder's statements, saying that it does not matter what sexual orientation one has, as long as one conducts himself in a “responsible manner.”
According to the German Catholic author and pro-life activist, Mathias von Gersdorff, the progressive Catholic world, as well as the progressive secular media in Switzerland are publicly rejoicing about this humiliation and intimidation of Bishop Huonder and are posting deprecating comments on Facebook pages and elsewhere, using stern words such as “finally!” or “these homophobic clergymen,” or “It is time to pronounce public criticism of this bishop.”
On the other hand, conservative Catholic media are making statements in defense of Bishop Huonder. On the Austrian website kath.net, the author Peter Winnemöller expresses his indignation about the fact that the president of the Swiss Bishops' Conference has shown such a deep disloyalty toward his fellow bishop:
Nevertheless, as one of the lay faithful, one cannot and may not approve when a bishop acts publicly in such a disloyal way toward his fellow bishop. This is true even moreso when a bishop comes into the focus of circles that are enemies of the Church, and this because of a question concerning the doctrine [of the Church]. In this case, it would be rather reasonable to clarify the doctrinal questions in a dispute behind closed doors, but to assist the fellow bishop in public.
Mentioning the lawsuit, Winnemöller thinks that it will fail, but says, “Even though this [lawsuit] should most probably not have a prospect of success, this fact [of the lawsuit], even alone in itself, should still call for the solidarity with the bishop.”