Bishop Huonder's Retirement Postponed -- "It's a Complete Surprise"
(Chur) "The surprise is complete," the reaction of a Swiss priest friend last night when he communicated the news. Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur has had his retirement put off for another two years by Pope Francis. Hardly anyone reckoned with this confirmation, even those closest to the bishop.
Msgr. Huonder has been bishop of the oldest Swiss diocese since 2007. On the 21st of April, he completed his 75th year and submitted his resignation on the same day. "That's it," was what the same priest said ten days ago.
Yesterday, Bishop Huonder wrote a letter to "all priests, deacons and pastoral staff in the Diocese of Chur".
"On April 21, 2017, I offered Pope Francis my resignation as a diocesan bishop. In the meantime Pope Francis, after weighing all the circumstances, has already decided and told me that my resolution, now pro-doc, has now been accepted. 'Tunc', so 'then', will be Easter 2019. I will be able to work as a diocesan bishop for two more years."
The Bishop recalls that the Holy See also left his predecessor in the office, Monsignor Amédée Grab, who remained until the age of 77, and till an Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese was appointed until the election of a successor.
Since this was the course under Pope Benedict XVI., however, nobody had expected the usual procedure under Pope Francis. Last autumn, a campaign had been launched against Bishop Huonder, who was already seeking his successor. It was requested that no bishop at all be appointed.
The surprise is also "complete," since Bishop Huonder, with has opposed Amoris Laetitia with the "excellent" Pastoral letter "The Holiness of the Marriage", against the Kasperians and the ambivalent attitude of Pope Francis, who refuses to make a clarification. This faithful confession of the traditional faith and morality has met with little satisfaction in the past few months at the papal court.
Bishop Huonder wrote in his letter:
"The sign of confidence on the part of the Pope, which is connected with his decision, has stirred great gratitude within me. I will continue to use all my powers to continue pastoral service, together with our Auxiliary Bishop Marian, with all priests, deacons and pastoral staff, for the salvation of the souls and the well-being of the Church of Chur."
"I am grateful to Pope Francis for his decision favoring continuity for our diocese. And I thank him for giving me the opportunity to continue and accompany non-completed work within the diocese as well as at other levels."
Bishop Huonder is the first diocesan bishop of the German-speaking world and beyond, who has appointed his own diocesan vicar to the faithful attending the Immemorial Roman Rite in his diocese. Since diocesan vicars are appointed by the incumbent bishop, the extension also applies to Father Martin Ramm of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
"The surprise is complete," as the Swiss friends repeated.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Bishopric of Chur (screenshots)