Swiss Bishop Vitus Huonder, faithful defender of Church teaching, dies at 81 – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — Swiss Bishop Vitus Huonder has died at age 81.

According to a press statement from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), Huonder “died after serious illness” on April 3.

“The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Don Davide Pagliarani, had visited him at his bedside,” the SSPX wrote. “Every day, a priest from the school community of the Sancta Maria Institute was able to bring him Holy Communion. Bishop Huonder was very touched and grateful for the spiritual and fraternal support he received.”

Huonder was the bishop of the Diocese of Chur in Switzerland from 2007 until 2019. He was known for unapologetically upholding Catholic moral teaching within an often-hostile environment in Switzerland. Since his retirement as bishop of Chur in April 2019, he lived in the Institute Sancta Maria in Wangs (Canton St. Gallen), a boys boarding school run by (SSPX) until his death.

Huonder was born on April 21, 1942, in Trun, Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. He was ordained a priest in Thalwil in 1971 and received a doctorate in theology from the University of Freiburg in 1973. From 1993 to 1998, he taught liturgical studies at the Universities of Fribourg and Chur. His election as the Bishop of Chur was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI on July 8, 2007.

In January 2015, Huonder was instructed by the then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to enter into a dialog with the SSPX with the aim of paving the way for full canonical recognition of the Society.

Huonder repeatedly spoke out against the attacks on marriage and the family, like gender ideology, homosexual acts, and abortion, and was heavily criticized for it by left-wing “progressives” within and outside the Catholic Church.

In 2011, the Swiss bishop defended the natural rights of parents over the education of their children, arguing that parents should be given the right to withdraw their children from state-sanctioned sex-ed classes in school. He said that government-sponsored sex education harms children by promoting “a kind of education that destroys the natural protection of a person’s sexuality, namely the sense of shame.” He criticized Switzerland’s educational establishment for not allowing parents the right to have their children exempted from sex education classes in school.

READ: World Health Org. has advised sex ed beginning at birth, ‘early childhood masturbation’ since 2010

In August 2015, Huonder was sued by the pro-LGBT organization Pink Cross and charged with a hate crime for citing passages from the Old Testament that condemn homosexual acts. The suit was dropped a few months later.

He instructed his priests to deny last rites for Catholics who choose euthanasia, citing Church teaching that suicide, like murder, “is also contrary to the divine order of the world.”

Huonder also condemned contraception as “part of the culture of death” and praised Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae for its “prophetic significance.”

In 2023, the YouTube channel Certamen published a series of videos called “The Great Wound,” in which Bishop Huonder described his analysis of the crisis in the Catholic Church of the past decades, especially since the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of the New Mass (Novus Ordo).

Speaking about the crisis, Huonder said it was caused by a “cryptic moving away from Tradition, from the authentic teaching of the Church, both in the documents of the (Second Vatican) Council and in the ensuing magisterial documents and decisions.” This is why, according to the Swiss prelate, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, “could not follow unreservedly the instructions and doctrinal statements of the Council and of the official church announcements that followed the Council.”

When discussing the role of Pope Francis, he stressed that his pontificate is a “pontificate of rupture. It is a break with tradition.” Not only does this pope often criticize Tradition and those adhering to it, he “undertakes acts that are clearly contrary to Tradition.”

Moreover, Bishop Huonder said the current pope is an “outspoken supporter of the so-called World Religion.” For many faithful, the prelate added, this is “a stumbling block.”

READ: WATCH: Retired Swiss bishop living with the SSPX says Novus Ordo Mass is ‘departure from tradition’

After the publication of the video series, the editor-in-chief of, the official news site of the Catholic Church in Switzerland, called for an apostolic investigation into Huonder for his criticism of Pope Francis.

LifeSiteNews invites readers to pray for the repose of Bishop Vitus Huonder’s soul.


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