He wrote: “The Holy Father is aware of the complexity of the situation in the diocese. Your Excellency is called to promote, above all, the communion and unity of the local Church, and to work generously in the service of evangelization.”
“Aware of the demanding dimensions of the mission entrusted to you, and considering your age, Pope Francis has decreed that, should your health permit, your mandate should last at least five years.”
Pope Francis stepped in last week to end the deadlock over the appointment of a new bishop in the diocese, which traditionally holds episcopal elections.
The see became vacant when Bishop Vitus Huonder retired on May 20, 2019, at the age of 77.
Local media reported last November that Chur’s cathedral chapter had rejected all three candidates to succeed Huonder proposed by the pope.
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.
CNA Deutsch said 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.
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.
When the cathedral chapter is unable to choose a bishop, the pope is free to appoint the new bishop directly. Pope Francis did so, selecting Bonnemain, a member of Opus Dei who previously served as judicial vicar and canon of the cathedral chapter of Chur diocese.
Preaching at Mass in Chur Cathedral on Feb. 15, Bonnemain announced that he would not be adopting an episcopal coat of arms.
He said: “The cross is the sign of Christ’s loving devotion to the world. Therefore, do not expect me to design and use a bishop's coat of arms, which is usually the case. The sign of the cross of Christ is enough for me. And this, only this, I will use.”