|Bishop Vitus Huonder|
A Swiss Catholic bishop who was sued earlier this month by homosexual activists for defending the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality has made a second public apology for not putting quotes from the Old Testament he used in sufficient context. Bishop Vitus Huonder explained that he did not intend to invite violence against homosexuals but to uphold the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. Bishop Huonder said:
“I wanted to show that in [the book of ] Leviticus, there is to be found a drastic rejection of homosexual acts and that we as Christians have to be aware of it. When within the Church there is now a search for a “pastoral change,” then it is appropriate to reflect – and without censorship – upon this question in the context of the Old Testament – at least also in order to make sure that we see what Christ, what the New Testament, and what the Tradition of the Church had brought to us.”
Despite his humble self-accusation of deficient comment on the quotation of the Old Testament, and his apology for presenting some passages from the Old Testament without sufficient explanation, he is being harshly criticized by Swiss media. And by some of his brother bishops in the nation. The Swiss Bishops' Conference's website kath.ch even published an intro to a secular news report which characterizes Bishop Huonder's comments as offensive to Jesus. A link to the full report has a photo which shows a grafitti on a wall next to the Bishop's residence, saying: “Dear Vitus, I am done with you! Your Jesus.”
In the face of harsh rejection by the media and even some fellow bishops, Bishop Huonder received courageous and touching support from Catholic laymen in Switzerland and Germany.
Dr. Gerd Weisensee, a Swiss pro-life activist and President of the Swiss Association of Journalists of Francis de Sales, defended Huonder in a press release from his organization. Weisensee insists that Bishop Huonder did not call for violence against homosexuals. The idea that it is forbidden to quote from the Old Testament “which is a Holy Text also for the Jews,” is in the eyes of Weisensee “nearly absurd, even if one rejects the content and its interpretation.” Weisensee sees the law suit against Bishop Huonder –initiated by Pink Cross – to be “a problematic development.” He wonders: “When will an organization of homosexuals sue the Opera house of Zurich because it displays the 'Magic Flute,' where Papageno and Pamina praise man and woman as the most noble, even divine bond?” Dr. Weisensee concludes: “Pink Cross conducts itself in the same unjustly fundamentalist and anti-liberal manner as those circles against which the organization ostensibly fights.”
On August 11, the Austrian Catholic website kath.net published an Open Letter to the President of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, Markus Büchel, who publicly rebuked Bishop Huonder for his defense of the Faith. The letter was penned by Michael Hageböck, a man who moved his family to France in order to legally homeschool his six children. He is a member of the conservative lay-initiative, Forum Deutscher Katholiken (Forum of German Catholics), and the headmaster of a Christian school in Freiburg (Breisgau), in Germany.
Hageböck's open letter is entitled: “I Wish You Would Apologize to Bishop Huonder!” In the midst of the pressures coming from the State to accept behaviors which contradict God's Commandments, Hageböck says, the President of the Swiss Bishops conference seems to be defending these promiscuous forces, rather than the loyal Catholic ones fighting the deeper cultural battle.
In the midst of turmoil, this German layman expects from bishops a strong defense, and that they place themselves “in a protective way – in front of the children, and thus contradict this planned and forced ideologization! To force everybody to accept such a super-dogma in a pluralistic-liberal society is, in my view, also a scandal.” Hageböck bemoans that, today, it is hard to find Catholic bishops “who even defend the Church's [moral and doctrinal] positions, instead of [dubiously] re-interpreting them.”
Hageböck insisted that Bishop Huonder himself, during his highly criticized talk in Fulda, Germany, did not speak in a harsh way about homosexuality. Hageböck was there and remembers the talk well, saying:
“He proclaimed, in a fatherly and loving way, the words of Holy Scripture. That the media would stab him in the back, was to be expected. However, that you, Your Excellency, would have the need to secure the applause from the false side, is sad! Nobody needs such an adapting Church. She would thereby make herself become superfluous”.
The Catholic layman concludes his Open Letter with the request that Bishop Büchel apologize to Bishop Huonder and even take him as a good example for “how one should today proclaim the Catholic Faith with love and clarity, without being cramped, and without any false and obsequious ingratiation.”