Vitus Huonder, the controversial Bishop of Chur, has retired after almost 12 years in the job. Pope Francis has appointed Peter Bürcher, previously the bishop of Reykjavik, as apostolic administrator in Chur.
Throughout his career Huonder, 77, has found himself at the centre of several media controversies, notably in 2015 when he quoted Bible passages calling for gays to be put to death. Previously he had also attracted criticism over opposing sex education in schools and women priests, and for believing that divine rights should come before human rights.
The diocese of Chur, the capital of canton Graubünden in eastern Switzerland, announced on Monday that the Pope had finally accepted Huonder’s resignation. Huonder said in 2017 that he wanted to stand down, but Rome rejected his wish twice.
The diocese of Chur extends over Switzerland's most populous canton, Zurich.
Huonder will move to the Sancta Maria Instituteexternal link belonging to the Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic group.
Peter Bürcher, 73, left Reykjavik in 2015 after developing a severe case of pneumonia. He said in a statement on Monday that his appointment was a “total surprise”. He said that at his age he was hoping for a bit of rest, “but the pope had other ideas”. He is expected to act as interim in Chur, with all the rights and duties of a bishop, for a couple of months.
Also on Monday the bishopric of Chur announced the death on Sunday of Huonder’s predecessor, Amédée Grab, at the age of 89.