Battleground Swiss Diocese of Chur Handed Off to Opus Dei Prelate
(Rome) Msgr. Marian Eleganti, the auxuliary bishop of Chur, was retired today by Pope Francis. At the same time, the Holy See announced the appointment of the new Bishop of Chur. The diocese has been deeply divided for decades.
In 2019, the Benedictine Msgr. Eleganti, although only 63 years old at the time, offered Pope Francis his resignation in the course of the retirement of Bishop Vitus Huonder. While the diocese of Chur was vacant, Francis left the former abbot of the Benedictine abbey of St. Otmarsberg in office. With the appointment of a new diocesan bishop today, the Pope accepted Eleganti's offer of resignation.
The diocese of Chur is the oldest and largest diocese in Switzerland. A struggle for control of the diocese has been raging since the late 1980s. Therefore, towards the end of his episcopate, Bishop Johannes Vonderach (1962–1990) asked for a bishop coadjutor with succession rights. This was granted to him in 1988 in the person of Wolfgang Haas. The resistance against Msgr. Haas was so strong that in 1997 he was sent to the Archdiocese of Vaduz, which was set up especially for this purpose. Up until then, the Principality of Liechtenstein had belonged to the Diocese of Chur. The conflict flared up again with each new appointment. Through the interaction of non-church media and progressive church circles, a priori image of the bishops was drawn and the development of their work was severely impaired.
In 1999 Marian Eleganti was elected Abbot of the Mission Benedictines of Uznach. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him. at the request of Bishop Vitus Huonder as auxiliary bishop of Chur. Among other things, Eleganti acted as the Rector of the Chur seminary and episcopal vicar for the religious. Media remote from the Church and progressive church circles repeatedly put the two bishops under pressure and publicly pilloried them.
Because of such discrepancies in the Swiss Bishops' Conference about the October 2018 Youth Synod convened by Pope Francis Msgr. Eleganti resigned in 2018 from his position as youth bishop of Switzerland. He had accused the Synod Director of "contradictions and not being inscribed by the Holy Spirit."
The auxiliary bishop of Chur and the Austrian philosopher Joseph Seifert exercised 2,019 sharp critique of the Abu Dhabi document on the "brotherhood of man", which Pope Francis signed with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in the United Arab Emirates as the "heresy of all heresies ”.
The controversial post-synodal letter Amoris Laetitia -actuated critical remarks by Eleganti in defense of marriage and family. He was the first and only Swiss Bishop who signed the Commitment to the Inalienable Truths of Marriage Sacrament, which had been presented by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider and other Kazakh bishops at the end of the 2017.
In the course of the so-called Corona pandemic, he created a spiritual dimension to the events and called for penance and conversion. In early March 2020 he regarded the development with plain words and drew heavy criticism on himself because certain opinions are barely tolerated. He criticized the fact that the Church's answer to the Corona crisis was largely limited to hygiene regulations, which was tantamount to "capitulation". He also emphasized that receiving Communion could not pose a risk of infection. With their provisions on Holy Communion, the bishops would say that receiving the body of Christ could make one sick. However, it was more important for the Swiss bishops to keep step with the government. Even bishops from the neighboring Federal Republic of Germany kept their distance from Msgr. Eleganti. The Apostolic Administrator of Chur, Msgr. Peter Bürcher, issued a de facto ban on speaking to Eleganti in the matter of Coronavirus on the grounds that the auxiliary bishop would cause “confusion among the faithful and in public”. The official Corona narrative, which is known to be supported by most governments, but which is not known who invented it, were not to be disrupted.
The new bishop of Chur
Almost two years after the retirement of Bishop Vitus Huonder, Pope Francis today appointed a new Bishop of Chur. The appointment of the shepherd of such an old diocese takes place according to proper law. According to this, Pope Francis should have received a three-way proposal from the cathedral chapter and the 22 canons, should have chosen the new bishop. In November 2020, however, the cathedral chapter waived this privilege because no one could agree on a candidate. In this way, as in the more recent bishops, Francis made it possible for himself to make the decision that fell on Joseph Maria Bonnemain, priest of Opus Dei and himself a member of the cathedral chapter.
The Pope preferred a temporary solution, since Monsignor Bonnemain is 72 years old and has to offer his resignation in three years. Even in the event that the Pope should leave him in office beyond the canonical age limit, his term of office is likely to last for a maximum of five years.
Bonnemain is the son of a Swiss from the canton of Jura and a Catalan, which is why he was born in Barcelona. He studied medicine in Zurich and then philosophy and theology in Rome. In 1978 he was ordained a priest for Opus Dei, now a personal prelature. At the University of Navarre he studied canon law and worked since 1981 as a Church judge for the diocese of Chur. From 1983 to 1992 he was a member of the Delegation of the Holy See to the WHO in Geneva. 2002, he was appointed Swiss Bishop Conference of the Secretary for the Commission of Sexual Abuse. Since 2003 he has been a member of the Chur cathedral chapter. Most recently he worked as an official of the diocese and hospital chaplain.
The diocese of Chur is the only diocese in the world that has its own episcopal vicar for the matter of the traditional rite. This task has fallen since June 2015 to P. Martin Ramm from the Pristly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
Until the enthronement of the new bishop, the diocese is headed by the Apostolic Administrator Msgr. Bürcher. He announced that he would announce the date for the episcopal ordination and the inauguration as soon as possible.