UPDATE April 29, 2022, 4:39 p.m. Eastern: This article previously incorrectly reported that Fathers Imhof and Graf published their letter anonymously. They did not; the article has been updated to reflect that.
CHUR, Switzerland (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Swiss diocesan priests have said they will not sign a new code of conduct imposed by their bishop, claiming the code is an attempt “to implant LGBT ideology in the Church under the guise of preventing sexual assault.”
The priests, Father Franz Imhof and Father Roland Graf, published a statement yesterday in reaction to the new Code of Conduct issued by their diocese, which they say “violates the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Joseph Bonnemain of the Diocese of Chur, Switzerland, signed the code on April 5, and issued a letter to all priests and employees of his diocese saying that the new code would be “binding for all leaders and employees of the diocese from mid-2022 onwards.”
The priests began their statement by acknowledging that “95% of what is contained in the code of conduct regarding prevention, we consider to be mere common sense and decency.”
By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.
But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.
Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.
To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.
However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.
Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.
As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.
Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.
This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!
And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.
For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).
The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."
"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."
“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.
“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/
'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/
**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo
“Nonetheless, the bishop should have never signed this document,” the priests added.
While acknowledging that it is “absolutely necessary to do everything possible to ensure better prevention [of sexual assault],” the priests cited several passages of the code which according to them, would “muzzle the doctrine of faith and morality.”
In one of these passages, priests must agree to “refrain from sweeping negative assessments of allegedly unbiblical behavior based on sexual orientation.”
The priests noted that this would prevent them from “proclaim[ing] the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).”
The CCC teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” “contrary to the natural law,” and can be approved “under no circumstances.”
Priests who commit themselves to the new code would also have to agree “not to actively take up topics related to sexuality, and to refrain from offensive questioning about intimate life and relationship status,” when engaging in pastoral conversations.
“This also applies to conversations I have as a supervisor,” the code adds.
According to the priests who issued their statement against the new code, this would prevent priests from asking the necessary questions for marriage preparation, which are there to ensure, among other things, that the future spouses agree with the Church’s teaching that marriage is a “sacramental community of life and love between a man and a woman.”
They also noted that if the head of a seminary or a diocesan bishop were to sign the new code of conduct, they would no longer be able to comply with the provision Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis approved and ratified by Pope Francis on December 8, 2016 which states “that persons who practice homosexuality, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or who support so-called ‘homosexual culture’” may not be admitted in the seminary.
In addition, “how could one still credibly require a candidate for the priesthood to commit himself ‘in the prescribed rite publicly before God and the Church’ to lifelong celibacy (canon 1037) if at the same time it is declared that his ‘relationship status’ is in fact taboo for Church leadership?” asked the priests rhetorically.
The priests also pointed out that, if priests or deacons living in immoral situations “may no longer be held accountable, or dismissed from Church ministry,” this would create a “double standard,” as the Church would continue to preach what it no longer demands of its priests and laity.
The priests ended their statement by criticizing another passage of the new code which states: “I refrain from any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity [and] I recognize sexual rights as human rights, especially the right to sexual self-determination.”
According to them, this passage would mean that heads of seminaries would again no longer be able to prevent people with homosexual tendencies or who practice homosexuality from entering the seminary.
“In the same way, the refusal to ‘bless’ a same-sex couple would no longer be possible,” the priests added.
They quoted a February 22, 2021, declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which stated that “it is not permitted to give a blessing to relationships or stable partnerships that involve a sexual practice outside of marriage (that is, outside an indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case with unions of persons of the same sex.”
The priests explained that applying such principles has nothing to do with discrimination but rather with “upholding the perennial teachings of the Church.”
“For the time being, we declare by our signature on the present declaration that we, for reasons of conscience, will not sign the code of conduct of the Diocese of Chur,” the priests concluded.