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Switzerland: Bishop Defends Hard Line On Divorce

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The Roman Catholic bishop of Chur, Vitus Huonder, has defended a pastoral letter in which he reminded church-goers that divorced Catholics who remarry cannot receive communion.

“The ten commandments were never popular either,” Huonder said in an interview published in Le Matin Dimanche and the Sonntagszeitung. He said the Church had never followed the times.

Huonder said the aim of his letter had been to help divorced and remarried people, but added “it is my duty to remind them of the fundamental rules of the Church”.

“For me, drawing divorced people’s attention to the fundamental rules is a sign of mercy.”

Huonder told the papers that other sacraments, including baptism, confirmation and confession were also withheld from remarried divorced Catholics.

The bishop’s letter was meant to have been read out in all churches in the eastern Swiss diocese on Sunday. But many priests have reportedly refused to read it out to their congregations.

Huonder said there were other ways of getting the message across, including the internet and Swiss religious radio stations. He said he expected some people would leave the Church as a result of his letter.

The Chur bishop was also at the centre of controversy late last year when he said parents should have the right to have their children exempted from sex education classes in school.

SwissInfo

swissinfo is an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to inform Swiss living abroad about events in their homeland and to raise awareness of Switzerland in other countries. swissinfo achieves this through its nine-language internet news and information platform.

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