On March 17, 2020, Msgr. Peter Bürcher, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Chur, asked the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese, Msgr. Marian Eleganti, to stop speaking to the media without prior consultation. Msgr. Bürcher also announced the immediate dismissal of Fr. Martin Kopp, delegate of the apostolic administrator for the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwald in central Switzerland, for not having exercised professional discretion by speaking in the media about the election of the next bishop of Chur.
“The Auxiliary Bishop, Msgr. Marian Eleganti, has made several statements in the media in recent days regarding the coronavirus pandemic. These declarations were not the subject of any consultation with me or with Giuseppe Gracia, the bishop’s spokesperson for media and communication,” stated Msgr. Bürcher, in a press release published on March 18 on the diocesan web site. He has thus “instructed Auxiliary Bishop Eleganti, in the future, to stop speaking in the media until after consultation with [him] and the press and communications officer of the episcopal curia.” Archbishop Eleganti accepted this decision.
“In the NZZ am Sonntag of March 15, 2020,” continued Msgr. Bürcher, “Fr. Martin Kopp, delegate of the apostolic administrator for central Switzerland, rendered a judgment on the next election of the bishop [of Chur] and welcomed an intervention by the State [in the matter]. In so doing, he publicly supported an initiative aimed at restricting the freedom of the Apostolic See and the Cathedral Chapter in the election of the new bishop,” charged Msgr. Bürcher. In fact, the Zurich government’s adviser Jacqueline Fehr wanted to involve the cantons to support a “moderate” candidate, fearing the nomination of a “conservative” bishop. “With this disloyal behavior contrary to my directives,... the minimum level of confidence necessary to exercise the function of delegate of the apostolic administrator is no longer given. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Fr. Martin Kopp has adopted such behavior. On the basis of the rights which have been granted to me by the Apostolic See, I revoke, immediately effective, the function of delegate of the apostolic administrator of central Switzerland of Fr. Martin Kopp, as well as the powers which are linked to it, in particular the responsibility of administrator of certain parishes, assumed in this function, and membership in the diocesan bodies and councils.”
The vice-president of the Biberbrugg Conference, grouping together the cantonal churches of the diocese of Chur, Werner Inderbitzin described the dismissal of Fr. Martin Kopp as “great new damage for our Church and especially for the diocese of Chur.” According to him, this decision shows “once again that the leadership of the diocese of Chur always thinks and acts in a clerical manner,” and that “furthermore, participation and committed and critical reflection of the laity are not desirable.” Some go so far as to claim that the dismissal of Fr. Martin Kopp gives way to the Vicar General of the Bishopric of Chur, Msgr. Martin Grichting.
Since May 20, 2019, Msgr. Peter Bürcher has been the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Chur pending the election of its bishop. Indeed, on that date Pope Francis had relieved Msgr. Vitus Huonder of his office as bishop of the diocese of Chur after having held the position for two additional years; he reached the age limit on April 21, 2017.