Resistance to Synodal financial blackmailing of Bishops. “That’s not how Catholic things work”

Urs Corradini: “That’s not how Catholic things work”

The Upper Entlebuch was the only faction to reject the coercive financial measures against the Diocese of Basel. Urs Corradini considers the Lucerne Synod's decision to be uncatholic. It “makes the bishop the recipient of orders in a synod”. Giving the impression that “the bishop has not yet done anything about abuses will fuel further mistrust,” says the deacon.

Mr Corradini, the Entlebuch faction to which you belong was against financial coercive measures by the Synod of the Lucerne Regional Church. Why?

Urs Corradini*: For a Diocese to function, the Diocesam leadership needs clarified financing. You have to imagine this in concrete terms: If each of the ten cantons of the diocese tied its payments to conditions, Bishop Felix would no longer be able to act.

What exactly did the Synod decide?

Corradini: The synod discussed and voted on two motions in connection with dealing with the cases of abuse. One of the two was accepted. In it, the Synodal Council is obliged to transfer four demands to the bishop...

… what demands are these?

Corradini: The motion calls for investigations into reported cases of abuse to be investigated externally, i.e. not within the church. There is also a demand for an independent reporting office with a control function, as well as an end to the destruction of files and the opening of the nunciature archives in Bern. The transfer of half of the diocese's contribution is dependent on the fulfillment of the demands.

“I didn’t expect such a high level of approval.”

How much money is involved exactly?

Corradini: The regional church of Lucerne’s Diocesan contribution will amount to 884,500 francs in 2024. The contribution is usually paid out in two tranches. The first tranche is transferred as normal. But a reservation was made for the second tranche, i.e. 442,250 francs.

The motion was clearly approved with 76 votes to 12 – did you expect this clear result?

Corradini: No, I didn't expect such a high level of approval.

They are among the opponents of coercive measures. In your speech you said that you trust Bishop Felix Gmür. What is your trust based on?

Corradini: Aside from the fact that I have known Bishop Felix for years and have worked very well with him, the pilot study gives our diocese good testimony, for example in terms of archival work and the prevention measures that were introduced 20 years ago. The latter was also recently highlighted by an external prevention expert at an awareness-raising course. Our bishop also offers a hand for further optimizations. Bishop Felix emphasized this again in a media release at the beginning of last week...

...You refer to the announcement from the diocese of Basel that reported cases of abuse will in future be investigated by a law firm...

Corradini: Exactly.

This means that one of the four demands of the Synod has already been fulfilled. The same applies to the demand for the end of document destruction. Work is underway at the registration office and Bishop Felix Gmür is committed to opening the archives. So is the Synod’s “bang” just a storm in a teacup?

Corradini: Yes. I hope that the excitement will subside soon.

“In our dual system, the Church only works in partnership or not at all.”

The mistrust runs deep among many believers. Can you understand where this mistrust comes from?

Corradini: Individual votes at the synod and especially at accompanying events showed me that it is not really about prevention and justice for victims, but above all about reform issues that many have wanted for a long time. This is an important reason for the disappointment of many believers. If a few interventions then give the impression that the bishop has not yet done anything about abuses, which is demonstrably false, further mistrust is fueled.

Do I understand you correctly? In your opinion, the Synod's decision increases the distrust of the bishop?

Corradini: Yes, it does. And it perverts the system. In our dual system, church only works in partnership or not at all. Threatening the Bishop with withdrawal of funds if he does not meet certain demands makes the bishop the recipient of orders in a synod. That's not how the Catholic Church works, especially not if it wants to be Synodal.

What do you think would be a better approach than threatening to cut funds?

Corradini: To seek dialogue. In its motion, the Entlebuch parliamentary group suggested taking up the demands and looking for ways to implement them in discussions with the bishop. There are suitable discussion forums for the ten cantons of the diocese together with the Diocesan leadership. That would be the better way.

The motion that has now been accepted was submitted by parishes that were able to break the wave of people leaving the church after the publication of the pilot study by withholding funds. Did you also experience a wave of resignations in the Oberes Entlebuch pastoral area?

Corradini: It varies. In several parishes we have had to take note of many people leaving the church. In others there were hardly any resignations. For me it is important to add that so far we have hardly had to accept resignations from committed church members and churchgoers.

How do you react in the parishes where there were many resignations?

Corradini: We feel powerless. Very few people who leave give a reason and most refuse to talk. There's not much we can do except express our regret. We will write to those leaving that we have been working according to clear standards in the area of abuse prevention for years, should this be the reason for leaving. We also include the flyer “Thanks to church taxes,” which provides information about the churches’ broad commitment.

*Urs Corradini (54) is a deacon and pastoral room leader in Upper Entlebuch. He was a “Word for Sunday” spokesman and army chaplain. In 2008 his dissertation “Pastoral services in the diocese of Basel: development and theological conception after the Second Vatican Council” was published.


Cathcon:  Synodalists talk big about dialogue and then resort in an instant to coercion.


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