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Catholic priests criticize new code of conduct in Swiss diocese as ‘attempt to implant LGBT ideology’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Bishop Joseph Bonnemain of Chur, Switzerland. / Diocese of Chur.

Chur, Switzerland, Apr 29, 2022 / 03:32 am (CNA).

A group of priests in the Swiss diocese of Chur has raised concerns over a new code of conduct for the prevention of assault, claiming that it violates “the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church” in several instances.

The clerics described the diocesan code as an attempt to “implant LGBT ideology in the Church under the guise of assault prevention, thereby undermining the Church’s doctrine of faith,” reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Bishop Joseph Bonnemain of Chur signed the code of conduct himself in early April.

In a letter to all parishes seen by CNA Deutsch, the bishop said that the code would be “binding for all leaders and employees from the middle of 2022 onwards.” The declaration of commitment would then be kept in the personnel file.

The group of priests emphasized that “95% of what is contained in the code of conduct concerning prevention, we consider to be an expression of common sense and decency.”

They said that it was “absolutely necessary to do everything possible to ensure better prevention and to pursue this concern in the Church with determination. We too will do this to the best of our ability.”

The Chur Circle of Priests is responsible for organizing local opposition to the code. The clerics cited several passages that, they said, would “muzzle the doctrine of faith and morality.”

According to the code, priests must agree with the following sentence: “I refrain from sweeping negative assessments of allegedly unbiblical behavior based on sexual orientation.”

The Circle of Priests said: “Anyone who signs this sentence would no longer be allowed — even by invoking the overriding fundamental right of religious freedom — to proclaim the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

The Catechism says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The new code of conduct also says: “In pastoral conversations, I do not actively take up topics related to sexuality. In any case, I refrain from offensive questioning about intimate life and relationship status. This also applies to conversations I have as a supervisor.”

Agreement on this point would prohibit priests and deacons from asking the obligatory questions in marriage preparation, the priests’ group claimed, such as whether the future spouses “agree to marriage as a ‘sacramental community of life and love between a man and a woman’ for their own lives.”

Also, “explicit questions must be asked about the ‘relationship status’ with regard to previous marriages and divorces or concerning any children from previous relationships.”

The code would make it impossible to apply existing norms not only in matters of marriage but also in the formation of priests, the priests argued. Thus, it would no longer be possible to adequately ensure that men with homosexual tendencies are not ordained.

Further, the Circle of Priests asked, “How could one still credibly require a candidate for the priesthood to commit himself ‘in the prescribed rite publicly before God and the Church’ to lifelong celibacy (canon 1037) if at the same time it is declared that his ‘relationship status’ is in fact taboo for Church leadership?”

Finally, it said, “If priests, deacons and lay employees who live in immoral heterosexual or homosexual relationships may no longer be called to account and, if there is no improvement, dismissed from Church ministry, a double standard is installed in two ways.”

On the one hand, the clergy group said, the Church would continue to adhere to traditional teaching in its preaching, but on the other, it would not demand it of its clergy and its laity.

With the code of conduct, priests and others involved in pastoral care would declare that “I refrain from any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity” and “I recognize sexual rights as human rights, especially the right to sexual self-determination.”

The consistent application of the Church’s sexual morality is “perceived as discriminatory by parts of society,” wrote the Chur Circle of Priests. This is the case, for example, because the Church cannot bless homosexual relationships. The Church’s only concern is “to be able to act in accordance with its perennial doctrine, invoking the primary fundamental right of religious freedom recognized and guaranteed by the state.”

The code’s statement on human rights is “open to various interpretations” but ultimately to be rejected because, for example, abortion is often characterized as a human right and part of sexual self-determination, the priests explained.

Beyond Bishop Bonnemain’s comment that the code is binding, the text itself does not seem to rule out labor law consequences. Thus, he stated, “A refusal to sign shows massive quality deficits in the ability to reflect, since the person tends to make sweeping judgments or does not sufficiently share the concern for prevention. Further cooperation is not advisable.”

“In existing employment relationships, the code of conduct is signed at the latest at the annual [staff meeting],” the code continued.

Switzerland, officially known as the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked Central European nation of around 8.6 million people, 37% of whom are Catholic. The country is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons.

In Switzerland, priests, as well as full-time Church employees, are generally employed by public law cantonal bodies financed by church taxes. The dioceses, as ecclesiastical structures, report directly to Rome but are financially responsible for only a few employees.

The Chur Circle of Priests said: “We asked the diocesan bishop in the run-up to the publication of the code of conduct not to sign it. Since he has published and signed it in the meantime, we now publicly ask him, on our part, to withdraw his signature from the code of conduct and thereby heal the conflict of conscience he has caused for many of his employees.”

Otherwise, the clerics said, they would themselves “draw up a code of conduct in the service of assault prevention that is in harmony with Church teaching and which we are prepared to sign.”


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17 Comments

  1. Are we to still wonder why the new doctrinal and disciplinary halves of the formerly unified Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF, now a dicastery) have different mailing addresses?

  2. After review of my original criticism of Bishop Bonnemain’s code of conduct it seemed there wasn’t, as I thought, a direct repudiation of perennial Catholic moral doctrine so I withdrew it. Rereading the code I find the following requirement for priests,
    “I refrain from any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity and I recognize sexual rights as human rights, especially the right to sexual self-determination”.
    I’m a priest and I would not sign it. I would have to decline. The reason is a priest is ordained to uphold the faith and morals of the Church. I must discriminate, which means to distinguish good from evil, and homosexuality is not a right to sexual self determination. It’s a disorder, an evil. Therein is the error that repudiates moral doctrine.
    Bishop Bonnemain seems to follow the ambiguous wording we’ve suffered during this pontificate. Although in this instance to conflate discrimination of civil rights in the public arena to encompass perennial Christian doctrine, is to place civil law above divine law. Whether by first appearance it may seem oblique, it also unlawfully binds the priest from fulfilling his office as a priest.
    There is no human right to sin. Although certain sins may be tolerated in accord with civil law for maintenance of an ordered society. Whether homosexuality is not penalized because of civil practicality, all law finds its moral justification in natural as well as divine law. Consequently, there is no right, no justification to prevent a priest from identifying and correcting sin for sake of the salvation of the sinner. It’s this kind of verbal engineering that seeks to disguise the truth which has plagued our Church.

  3. So sexual sins are now off-limits for Swiss priests to address — pornography, fetishism, pedophilia, prostitution, masturbation, etc.

    Isn’t that nice.

    Of course it’s not as if sexual sins have ever been much of a stumbling block to anyone, right? I mean, nothing to see here, right?

    Fortunately, the Swiss priests will still be able to help with really serious temptations like stealing office supplies from one’s employer, ticket scalping and Friday night bingo.

    I feel like the Catholic Church is needed more now than at any other point in my lifetime. And yet so, so often, because of spineless, feckless, clueless leaders, the Church is MIA.

  4. Thank you Fr Peter. All priests should speak up for the truth like you so that Jesus may not have to say who are you? I DO NOT KNOW YOU!

  5. If the ( so-called ) Pope cannot declare homosexuality an ABOMINATION as described in the Word of God….then he is a false prophet…
    And this is being described by an
    ex-homosexual redeemed by God….
    Guaranteed.

    • The Church of which Pope Francis (not a so-called Pope as you claim) is the Vicar of Christ has repeatedly said that he believes all that the Church teaches. So, he has not changed our views on homosexuality. He has, however, brought to our attention the merciful nature of God, and the deadly sins – pride, hatred, anger etc – which not many of us seem to condemn and act against.

  6. If the Catholics do not call homosexuality an ABOMINATION as the Bible describes it…
    they are deceiving their laity and themselves….
    I am a ex-homosexul delivered from that ABOMINATION…by the Living God…
    Don’t fall for the lies of the enemies of
    God and the” woke ” generation…
    Do not be deceived by any religious institutions that tells you otherwise…
    Only God can deliver man ( and women )
    from sin….
    It cannot be Absolve by man in any way.
    Only God can forgive sins…guaranteed…
    Don’t be deceived.

  7. “I recognize sexual rights as human rights, especially the right to sexual self-determination.”

    Implanting an LGBT agenda into the church doesn’t get any clearer than that, at least for those who have eyes to see. Sin is sin. The church is responsible for calling people to repentance and faith.

  8. I am close to 70 years old. More and more I wonder if the church I believe in will break apart and crumble before my death, due to a lack of committed informed leaders, and an unwillingness of priests at lower levels to preach the truth of the church. If I survive so that at some point I need to decide which break-away group to follow, I hope I make the correct decision. I dont see how the institutional Catholic Church can continue on like this, supporting sinful actions, and worse, imposing them on her priests.

    • This is a good point. I don’t know how repentance and renewal can take place with the current leaders in the church. The leadership created the problems, I don’t think they will be part of the solution.

  9. Lord God, give us courageous shepherds who will teach the truth of the Gospel. Deliver all those held in bondage by the lies of groups who promote ideologies contrary to God’s loving will. Give us the grace to stand firm in our Faith as we profess our creed in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!

  10. Lately a lot has been changed in our faith, even the last part of the Our Father prayer, and i keep asking myself why, why is it necessary or even thinking of changing our beautiful faith, our Catholic faith..? A lot does not make sense, the why is not answered. Scripture does not change. The Word of God is eternal and His Gospels cannot be changed. Who are we that we think we can change God’s Word..? Then, why..? Is evil then sitting in the Vatican, amongst the Bishops and Cardinals..?

  11. Saying verbally that “we haven’t changed the teaching”. doesn’t mean that they haven’t changed it. If they used to teach one thing, and now they teach something else, then they have changed the teaching whether they admit it or not. Too many of our bishops are just plain liars.

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