Former Bishop Of Chur Vitus Huonder Dies Aged 81

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) Vitus Huonder, the controversial former bishop of Chur, died on Wednesday following a serious illness, the Society of St Pius X announced on its website.

This content was published on April 4, 2024 - 10:01 3 minutes Keystone-SDA

Huonder lived with the priestly fraternity at the Institut Sancta Maria in Wangs, canton St Gallen.

The 81-year-old was hospitalised in mid-March. The current bishop of Chur, Joseph Maria Bonnemain, confirmed to the media at the time that he had visited Huonder there. Details of his illness were not disclosed.

The diocese of Chur was unable to comment on Huonder's death later on Wednesday afternoon as it had only just heard of his passing, communications officer Nicole Büchel told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA.

Following his retirement in May 2019, Huonder retired to the Institut Sancta Maria, a boys' boarding school run by the Society of St Pius X, and no longer had anything to do with the diocese.

A polarising bishop

Huonder led the diocese from 2007 to 2019 which, in addition to Graubünden, Glarus and Zurich, comprises four cantons in central Switzerland. The faithful in the diocese hoped that Huonder, from Graubünden, would be willing to engage with and continue the reconciliation process between the diocese and the regional churches begun by his predecessor Amédée Grab.

However, Huonder, who was loyal to Rome, surrounded himself with conservative officials and became a polarising figure due to his ultra-conservative stance throughout his term of office. Some people, particularly in Graubünden and Zurich, warned that he risked another split in the diocese, as had happened under bishop Wolfgang Haas. The regional church of Zurich even tried to establish its own diocese, but without success.

Huonder caused particular outrage when he quoted passages from the Old Testament in a lecture in Fulda, Germany, according to which homosexuality is an atrocity punishable by death. The bishop initially claimed a misunderstanding, but later apologised publicly. The Graubünden judiciary looked into the statements but found no punishable offence.

More More Catholic bishop in 'death to gays' storm

This content was published on Aug 3, 2015 At the“Joy in Faith” forum in the German city of Fulda, he quoted a passage from the Bible which said homosexuals should be punished by death. In his 50-minute address on Friday, titled“Marriage – a gift, sacrament and order”, Huonder quoted various passages backing up his views. He also slammed gender theory, divorce,...

Read more: Catholic bishop in 'death to gays' storm

It was unclear why Huonder withdrew to the Institut Sancta Maria after his retirement in April 2019, which has not been part of the Roman Catholic Church since 1975 and has repeatedly come into conflict with it.

Adapted from German by DeepL/kp

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