Pope Pius XII established the current rules for the selection of bishops in the diocese in the 1948 decree "Etsi salva," giving the cathedral chapter the privilege of electing a bishop from among three priests proposed by the Holy See.
Local media reported last November that Chur's cathedral chapter had rejected all three candidates to succeed Huonder proposed by Pope Francis.
The 22 members of the cathedral chapter were due to elect a successor on Nov. 23. The list of candidates was supposed to remain secret, but local media reported that the three people proposed for the vacant see were Bonnemain, Abbot Vigeli Monn von Disentis, and Abbot Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori.
Observers noted that Bonnemain was the only candidate with a direct connection to the diocese, which dates back to 451 and today covers seven of the 26 cantons of Switzerland, including the canton of Zürich.
CNA Deutsch reported at the time that the cathedral chapter saw the list of three candidates as an "attempt at interference" by neighboring dioceses. It quoted an insider as saying that the three names indicated that "the voice of the diocese of Chur, which has previously deviated from the social mainstream, is being silenced" -- a reference to the diocese's reputation as a bastion of conservative Catholicism.
At 72, Bonnemain is just three years away from the age at which bishops must tender their resignations to the pope. Local media reported that he is likely to be consecrated at Easter.