In a referendum on September 26, Switzerland approved civil marriage and the right to adopt children for same-sex couples, making it one of the last Western European countries to do so.
Bishop Joseph Maria Bonnemain appears to be following Pope Francis’ lead, since he openly backed same-sex civil unions – without calling them “marriage” – while remaining silent on the Church’s doctrine on the depravity of homosexual behavior.
On October 21, 2020, Francesco stated, “What we need is a civil union law,” (…) “So they’re insured legally. I spoke up for this.”
Bonnemain seems to agree with Pope Francis on this point. According to local rules, the local ecclesiastical authorities have a say in the appointment of a new bishop. After they rejected Bonnemain, Pope Francis chose a new bishop. Bonnemain made the unique decision of not having his own episcopal coat of arms as one of his first public acts. At one of his first interviews as bishop of Chur, Bonnemain was seen training weights in a gym.
He is a member of Opus Dei, which seemed unconcerned by his public endorsement of same-sex unions. But Opus Dei recently suspended an African priest, Father Jesusmary, for criticizing Pope Francis’ support for same-sex civil partnerships. Father Jesusmary informed LifeSiteNews in August that he was barred from public Masses, confessions, and preaching because his posts on Facebook and Twitter were viewed as blatantly insulting the Pope. “An apparent victory of situation ethics over traditional Catholic morality” since the pope publicly endorsed same-sex civil unions.
What does this mean for Opus Dei? Are they still true to the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church, as upheld by its protector and champion, Pope John Paul II?
On August 17, Bonnemain took part in a conversation held by SRF and was asked if he would oppose a woman marrying her female companion. “I don’t mind it,” he said.
Furthermore, Bishop Bonnemain urges not to forget original marriage, which he now calls “bio-marriage,” though he concedes the phrase is a bit odd. In fact, he goes so far as to advocate renaming conventional marriage rather than renaming these new forms of “marriage”. An audience member asked Bishop Bonnemain if his recommendations were not merely “semantic refinements” on Swiss television on August 17. He simply wishes that traditional marriage, with husband and wife, with children and grandparents, does not “get forgotten” because such a traditional marriage is an “enrichment” for society
On homosexuality, Bishop Bonnemain stated that “God loves us all and He always will, regardless of how we conduct ourselves or how we feel; it is the foundation of our Christian faith.” It is only after a “integration of a diversity” and “independent of sexual orientation” that each person can be absorbed into one’s own parish that he urged for a “specialized pastoral care” for homosexual couples. That is, such “specialized pastoral care” is just “intermittent.”
During the televised debate, Bonnemain recognized that his term “bio-marriage” was not the best, but claimed that this is the “original, Christian-Jewish, Biblical partnership.” “Procreation” is also mentioned here. In his words, “I as a physician know that reproductive medicine is not a trifle.” The effects, often psychological, the couple’s burden should not be overlooked.”
Announcing a ban on gay marriages in May, Bishop Bonnemain disassociated himself from it, calling the restriction “a provocation.” On the same level as the Church’s magisterium, he labeled the subsequent public blessing of homosexual couples in his diocese led by a homosexual Catholic priest a provocation. “No” to provocations, but “yes” to dialogue, he expressed.
To summarize, a member of Opus Dei publicly supporting same-sex civil partnerships may be a first in history. We can only hope that Opus Dei will soon demonstrate its moral principles.