Switzerland: Theologian sanctioned by Rome and recruited in Basel

Source: FSSPX News


The Franciscan Josef Imbach, banned from teaching in Rome, will be responsible for the Catholic theology course at the Faculty of Reform Theology at Basel. This new position for Fr. Imbach, aged 59, was announced by Swiss radio on Internet kath.ch.

This theologian had been banned from teaching in February 2002, at the faculty of pontifical theology at Saint Bonaventure in Rome, because of his book entitled Wunder, eine existentielle Ausgelung (Miracle, an existential interpretation), which casts doubt on the historicity of the facts related in the New Testament, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ.

An action group led by the Basel theologian Xavier Pfister, collected 53,000 Swiss francs to finance the appointment of Fr. Imbach. Amongst the people who responded positively to this subscription was the dissident theologian Hans Küng. This action was considered by its initiators as a “creative protest” against the suspension of the theologian by the Roman Curia.

Furthermore, on February 11, the Herbert-Haag Foundation in Lucerne, awarded its prize “for freedom in the Church” to Fr. Josef Imbach for his “courageous and intelligent commitment in favor of an open unblinkered Catholicity”. In his latest book, The belief in power and the power of belief - What the church is suffering from today”, the religious describes the mechanisms of power within the Catholic Church and identifies its “intolerable authoritarian structures”.

Among the other prizewinners of the Herbert-Haag Foundation 2005 – with a fund of 15,000 Swiss francs – are the members of the Roman Catholic Synod of Lucerne. In November 2003, the latter demanded – by 73 votes to 8, the abolition of obligatory priestly celibacy and admission of women to the priesthood. In a message addressed to the Swiss Bishops Conference, the synod also demanded the rehabilitation of priests released from their priestly duties for having renounced celibacy. The award was given to the president of the ecclesiastical parliament of Lucerne, Bernadette Rüegsegger-Eberli, and to Paula Beck-Steiger who took the initiative for this “Declaration of Lucerne”.

Another 2005 prizewinner was the theologian and streetworker Sepp Riedener, aged 61, who has been working for the past thirty years as part of the association Verein Gassenarbeit Luzern for a drugs policy in accordance with the dignity of man. This “voice of those who have no voice” is fighting for a liberating Church. His action is supported “in an exemplary way” by the Catholic, Protestant and Old Catholic communities. Sepp Riedener is a former priest, now married and the father of four children.

The prize “for liberty in the Church” has been awarded since 1985 by the foundation created by the Franciscan theologian Herbert Haag, well known for his progressivist ideas. He was professor of the Old Testament at the Faculty of theology of the University of Tübingen, in Germany, between 1960 and 1980. He died in August 2001 at the age of 86.