Cardinal who led Switzerland’s oldest Catholic diocese dies at age 88

The flag of Switzerland. Credit: kmaschke (CC BY-SA 2.0).

CNA Staff, Jan 8, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Swiss Cardinal Henri Schwery died Thursday at the age of 88.

The cardinal served as bishop of Sion, the oldest Catholic diocese in Switzerland, for nearly 20 years.

Schwery was made a bishop by Pope Paul VI in 1977 and led the historic diocese in the Swiss canton of Valais until his retirement due to illness in 1995.

Born the youngest of 11 children in Saint-Léonard in 1932, Schwery entered the major seminary of Sion and continued his studies in Rome at the French seminary of St. Clare.

He was ordained a priest in 1957, at the age of 25, and was then sent to Fribourg, where he obtained an additional degree in mathematics and physics.

Schwery worked as a teacher in Sion, serving as the diocesan chaplain of Catholic Action for eight years and leading the children’s choir. He was appointed director of the minor seminary of Sion in 1968 and rector of the College of Sion in 1972.

After his appointment as bishop of Sion, Schwery served as a member of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education from 1978 to 1983.

As bishop, he had a difficult relationship with the Society of St. Pius X, which had been founded under the jurisdiction of his diocese by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970.

Schwery was canon of honor of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice d’Agaunne, which dates back to the sixth century.

He led the Swiss bishops’ conference from 1983 to 1988. He helped to organize Pope John Paul II’s apostolic journey to Switzerland in 1984 and the pope made him a cardinal in 1991.

Schwery took part in the conclave that elected Benedict XVI in 2005.

With Schwery’s death, the College of Cardinals now has a total of 228 cardinals, of whom 128 are electors. The only remaining Swiss cardinal in the College of Cardinals is Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Schwery’s funeral will be held on Jan. 11 in the Cathedral of Sion. It will be a private funeral due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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1 Comment

  1. Respectful farewell to Swiss Cardinal Henri Schwery. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon the departed soul.

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