A week after his resignation, Giuseppe Gracia, head of communications and spokesman for the diocese of Chur (canton of Graubünden, Switzerland) from 2011 to March 4, 2021, spoke to the German Catholic weekly Die Tagespost.
He had first served Bishop Vitus Huonder and then, after his retirement in May 2019, Bishop Peter Bürcher, apostolic administrator until the appointment of Bishop Joseph Bonnemain, consecrated on March 19, 2021.
For Giuseppe Gracia, “The Church is polarized like civil society, so the wind blows in and out. This wind, that is to say the spirit of the times, wants the standards of the Church to be the same as the standards of contemporary secular culture.”
For some, the lifestyles of those remote from the Church, in the welfare society of central Europe, should serve as “normative principles for reforming Church teaching,” he laments.
In other words, “it is about reading Catholic tradition in the light of the spirit of the times, rather than the other way around: reading the spirit of the time in the light of Catholic tradition,” he adds.
“Church leaders everywhere say they want to evangelize, proclaim the faith, but 90% of the communication from Catholic leaders concerns only questions about the institution, power, and internal scandals. It does not bring anyone back to the Church, on the contrary,” stresses the former spokesman.
“The Church in all the German-speaking countries is polarized, because the secularization of society and the desecration of life have long permeated it. The Church is attacked when it does not keep up with the times,” explains Giuseppe Gracia.
According to him, the pressure of the zeitgeist will not stop as long as the Church still does not have quotas for women, is not democratic, and does not approve of everything that the majority wants: marriage for all, abortion, surrogacy, euthanasia ...
For the record: John Paul II himself did not hesitate to say that Catholicism in Europe was in a state of “silent apostasy.” And shortly before his election to the sovereign pontificate, Benedict XVI compared the Church to a “boat taking on water on all sides.”
To face these attacks it is important to learn to re-present the faith, continues Giuseppe Gracia, “to make it understandable with reason and patience, to be educational and clear. … Unfortunately, this often does not work, because many actors, inside the Church herself and outside, reject traditional faith and take refuge in innocuous generalities,” he says.
“It is not a problem with communications here,” he says, “it is much deeper. This is a conflict of orientation. The progressive side thinks, ‘We strengthen love and improve society when we question the gospel and the teaching of the Church from the perspective of contemporary culture.’”
“The traditional side thinks, ‘We strengthen love and improve society when we challenge contemporary culture from the point of view of the gospel and the teachings of the Church.’ There is a world of difference between these two visions!”
It is understandable that this spokesman, at only 53 years of age, resigned on March 4, even before the new bishop of Chur, Msgr. Bonnemain, took office. A month later, the latter declared to the Zurich daily Blick on April 3, regarding ecclesiastical celibacy: “the question is whether every priest should live celibate. Here too the Church is in a process of development.”