The New Bishop of Chur Finally Appointed

February 22, 2021
Fr. Joseph Bonnemain

The long wait for the Diocese of Chur has finally come to an end with the appointment of the new bishop in the person of Fr. Joseph Bonnemain.

The previous bishop, Vitus Huonder, submitted his resignation on April 21, 2017, the day of his 75th birthday. But this was ultimately refused, and Bishop Huonder remained at his post until May 2019.

Msgr. Pierre Bürcher was then appointed apostolic administrator, responsible for preparing the election of the future bishop, since, the diocese of Chur has the privilege of electing its bishop through the vote of the cathedral chapter.

But on election day, November 23, the canons refused to elect a successor to Bishop Huonder. The final decision then returned to Rome.

On February 15, 2021, the diocese communicated Fr. Joseph Bonnemain’s appointment by Pope Francis.

Fr. Bonnemain held the post of delegate of the apostolic administrator, and official of the diocese of Chur. His curriculum vitae mentions his status as a medical doctor.

The apostolic administrator will continue to lead the diocese until the consecration and investiture of Fr. Joseph M. Bonnemain, the date of which will be announced as soon as possible.

In the same statement, the diocese announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of auxiliary bishop Marian Eleganti, 65, who has a deserved reputation as a custodian.

The Diocese of Chur is not an easy diocese: Catholics in the Zurich area in particular can be described as more Protestant than the Protestants around them. They had organized a worship strike during Bishop Wolfgang Haas’ time as the head of the diocese, after lying in front of the cathedral on the day of the coronation of the new bishop.

The war between parts of the diocese and the bishop ended with the appointment, in 1997, of Bishop Haas as head of the archdiocese of Vaduz - covering the whole of Lichtenstein – removed by the Vatican from the diocese of Chur which he was previously a member.

As for Bishop Huonder, he had been the target of criticism several times, in particular for having upheld the teaching of the Church on homosexuality.