A Swiss priest has to leave his parish after giving a blessing to a lesbian couple.
Wendelin Bucheli, a priest in the municipality of BÃ¼rglen in the west of Switzerland, gave his blessings to a lesbian couple in October 2014 after discussing it with other members of the clergy.
But a bishop is angered by the priest’s actions, for ‘angering many believers’, and is planning on punishing him by removing him from the village.
Bucheli’s congregation are supporting him and are fighting his forced relocation.
‘There was no considerable difference between this blessing and a wedding ceremony,’ the priest told Swiss newspaper Urner Wochenblatt, speaking about the occasion last October.
Bucheli said he carefully considered his options before discussing the matter with a Jesuit priest.
His main question was: ‘Can I give this blessing in the name of God and would it be his will?’, to which, so Bucheli, the answer was yes.
‘These days people give blessings to animals, cars and even weapons,’ he said, ‘why shouldn’t you give your blessing to a couple deciding to walk through life with God by their side?’
Vitus Huonder, bishop of the diocese of Chur where Bucheli currently works, did not agree with the priest’s actions.
He spoke to the priest and the bishop of Bucheli’s home diocese of Lausanne, Huonder said they want the pro-gay religious leader gone by summer at the latest and returned to his former pasture.
Huonder’s spokesman Guiseppe Gracia told the Urner Wochenblatt: ‘His actions created attention, even across state borders, and angered many believers.’
He claimed Bucheli’s actions could have ‘clouded the church’s teachings on marriage and family.’
‘He has to stand up for his actions, he cannot just accept such a vexation, because of all the people adhering to the catholic belief,’ Gracia said.
‘Priest Bucheli knowingly went against the church’s principle.’
The Swiss Conference of Bishops’ stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage is laid out in a document, published in 2002, discussing who can be blessed and noting ‘God does not favor every one of man’s actions.’
The document reads: ‘The bishops are convinced that homosexual people can be given such blessings’ – but this does not extend to same-sex couples wanting a blessing for their relationship.
The majority of BÃ¼rglen’s residents are not happy with their priest’s forced relocation and are hoping that talks will convince the bishops to let Bucheli stay in the village.
Bucheli did not give a statement.