In the divided diocese of Chur, a new bishop is still awaited who can fill in the gaps that have arisen. The papal nuncio, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, inquires about possible candidates.
Soon the Congregation of Bishops in Rome should receive mail from Bern again. According to information from the portal kath.A new round of consultations is underway: the pope's ambassador to Switzerland, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, is gathering information from churchmen about possible candidates for the bishop's seat in Chur. The Catholic News Agency (KNA) presents five candidates whose names are said to be on the list.
Joseph Bonnemain: Should his name actually make it into the final round, he should have the best chances of being elected by the majority conservative cathedral chapter. He is himself a member of the cathedral chapter and enjoys a good reputation not only there. Those who know the diocese see him as a bridge builder. As a member of Opus Dei, he is conservative enough to provide some continuity. As episcopal vicar for relations with state-church organizations and the cantons, he has shown that he stands up for the dual Swiss system.
Bonnemain is secretary of the bishops' conference's expert panel on "Sexual Assault in the Church Environment," where he brings expertise and credibility to the table. He is not only an ecclesiastical lawyer, but also a doctor and active in hospital chaplaincy. At 72, however, Bonnemain would be a transitional bishop: after three years, he would have to offer his resignation to the pope in accordance with canon law, and could then be extended for a few more years at most.
Urban Federer: The abbot of Einsiedeln Monastery is the desired candidate of progressive Catholics. The 52-year-old comes from Zurich, sees himself as part of a postmodern generation and is an expert in church music. A Germanist, he received his doctorate on "Mystical Experience in Literary Dialogue".
Federer is a sought-after interview partner whose voice is also heard in urban and secular milieus: modern in thought and, as a Benedictine, at the same time committed to a long tradition. Many believe he can open a new chapter in the divided diocese of Chur. His young age speaks both for and against him. He could shape the diocese for more than two decades.
Ruedi Beck: The name on a list from the nuncio would be surprising; after all, Beck does not belong to Chur, but to the diocese of Basel. Whether the cathedral chapter will choose an external candidate is questionable. The member of the Focolare movement stands for a diaconal and charismatic church course. Because of his refugee work, Beck once had to stand trial before the Basel criminal court, but was acquitted.
The pastor of the Hofkirche in Lucerne is known for pointed statements. From 2000 to 2003, Beck was co-director of the international center for theology students of the Focolare movement in Rome. In 2010, he was already once considered for the episcopal see of Basel, but did not make the cut. born in 1963, he would also be comparatively young.
Adrian Luchinger: The parish priest in Horgen, born in 1965, is even a bit younger. Luchinger belongs to the "Forum Priests of the Diocese of Chur," which advocates for a bridge-builder as bishop. The forum also criticizes a "growing alienation between a large part of the faithful and the diocesan church leadership".
Luchinger received his doctorate with a thesis on "Papal Infallibility in Henry Edward Manning and John Henry Newman".
In 2014, he said about the Synod on the Family in Rome: "Without wanting to appear disillusioned after 20 years in the church, I have become realistic. Similar to the infallibility ie, there is a pro and a con faction for change. But we can hope that there will be positive effects on pastoral activity and that we will benefit from the wave of sympathy that is currently prevailing for Pope Francis and that we will be able to take something of its momentum with us."
Mario Pinggera: The parish priest of Richterswil, born in 1969, is considered at best an outsider's candidate. Pinggera is a passionate church musician and lecturer for church music in Chur. His doctoral thesis: "Music and the Church under the Influence of the National Socialist Dictatorship in South Tyrol".
For him, music and pastoral work go hand in hand, as he said in 2019: "At least 50 percent of pastoral activity is music. When I visit people in nursing homes, we often sing together. This is more appreciated than just talking at people. The non-verbal elements are often neglected in the church."
So how does it continue? If the names are convincing in Rome, the Chur Cathedral Chapter receives a list of three, the so-called Terna. But there can be other names on it – the pope is not bound to the suggestions of the nuncio. The cathedral chapter must then elect one of the three candidates as bishop. After two recent deaths, it currently consists of 22 priests, the majority of them conservative.
The duration of the procedure is also unclear. Bishop Vitus Huonder (78) had offered his resignation in 2017 after reaching the age limit; Pope Francis accepted it in 2019. Since then, Bishop Pierre Burcher (74) has been leading the fate of the diocese as Apostolic Administrator on a transitional basis. A connoisseur of the diocese puts it this way: "In the end, things turn out quite differently."