Some priests are challenging the Code of Conduct intended to combat abuse in the Church, which was signed by Msgr. Joseph Bonnemain, the new bishop of Chur, on April 5, 2022, and which was associated with the vicars general and the representatives of the ecclesiastical corporations of the diocese.
The document has met with strong opposition from a number of priests who accuse it of violating Catholic doctrine on several counts.
A group of 43 priests from the diocese, to which may be added 80 sympathizers, spoke out against several passages of this Code of Conduct. The bishop, in a letter to all parishes, said this Code would be “mandatory for all leaders and employees of the diocese from mid-2022 onwards.”
On April 28, 2022, this Sacerdotal Circle of Chur (Churer Priesterkreis) published a statement to warn about the disputed points and to ask the bishop to withdraw his signature, believing that Msgr. Bonnemain should never have signed the document.
The Circle acknowledge agreement with “95%” of what is contained in the Code, noting that everything must be done to ensure better prevention of abuse.
But the priests then generally describe the Code of Conduct as “an attempt to implant LGBT ideology in the Church under the guise of preventing abuse and thereby undermining Church doctrine.”
They point out several passages which would “muzzle the doctrine of faith and morality.” The Code has the signatory say, “I renounce overall negative assessments of allegedly unbiblical behavior based on sexual orientation.”
The comment notes: “Whoever signs this sentence would no longer... proclaim the teaching of the Church on homosexuality as stipulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” which affirms that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “cannot be endorsed under any circumstances.”
Furthermore, the Code states: “In pastoral interviews, I will not actively take up topics related to sexuality, and will refrain from offensive questioning about intimate life and relationship status. This also applies to conversation I have as a supervisor.”
The priests note that this would prevent ministers from asking the necessary questions for marriage preparation, which are there to ensure, among other things, that the future spouses agree with the Church’s teaching that marriage is a “sacramental community of life and love between a man and a woman,” as well as questions about any previous marriages and divorces, or children from previous relationships.
The impossibility of refusing priestly formation to men with homosexual tendencies
As for the formation of priests, it would no longer be possible to ensure that men with homosexual tendencies were excluded from ordination, as stipulated by the texts of the Holy See. And “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?”
Indeed, explain the protesting priests: “If priests, deacons and lay collaborators living in immoral situations ‘may no longer be held accountable or dismissed from Church ministry,’ this would create a double standard.”
On the one hand, the Church would continue to preach traditional doctrine, but on the other hand, it would no longer demand it of its priests and laity employed by the diocese. While the diocese would give itself a weapon with which to dismiss the non-signatories.
Finally, the Code of Conduct contains the following affirmations: “I refrain from any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” and “I recognize sexual rights as human rights, especially the right to sexual self-determination.”
But, as the priests rightly comment, the Church's consistent application of sexual morality is “perceived as discriminatory by society,” because, for example, the Church cannot bless same-sex relationships.
Moreover, the Code's declaration on human rights is thus “open to various interpretations,” but must be rejected because, for example, abortion is often characterized as a human right which is part of sexual self-determination, explain the priests.
The cath.ch site reports the reaction of two priests in favor of the Code of Conduct.
The first points out that the refusal to sign the document is “typical” of a part of the Church. “With the code, leaders must cede power. And that does not please the clericalist priests: it is better to go back to your corner and continue to complain about the alleged injustice.” – A review echoing one of Pope Francis’ favorite accusations: “clericalist.”
Another goes further: “We know what canon law and the catechism say.… The catechisms have always changed over time. The current one is decades old and the world today is different. The Code of Conduct, on the other hand, dates from 2022 and speaks for a church in today's world.”
As if the circumstances of an era could cause the truth of faith and morals to change. It is pure modernism. And it is also a perfect echo of Cardinals Jean-Claude Hollerich, Reinhard Marx, and Bishop Georg Bätzing who were seriously attacked on this point by various episcopates and bishops around the world.
Following this criticism, Msgr. Bonnemain showed himself in favor of dialogue with these priests, reproaching them for having acted hastily and without consultation.
But they had already written that “we asked the diocesan bishop, before the publication of the Code of Conduct, not to sign it. Since he has published and signed it in the meantime, we in turn ask him publicly to withdraw his signature and thus heal the conflict of conscience that he has provoked among many of his collaborators.”
Otherwise, they add, “we will ourselves draw up a code of conduct in the service of the prevention of aggression, in accordance with the teaching of the Church, which we are ready to sign.”
A healthy reaction from a part of the clergy of the diocese of Chur, which also shows how far LGBT ideology has penetrated within the Church and in the minds of some of its representatives.