In 2014 a Swiss bishop caused a stir when he demanded the resignation of a priest who had married two gay women. Wendelin Buchli, the Catholic priest in the village of Burglen in the canton of Uri, Switzerland was ordered to quit in February 2015 by Vitus Huonder, the highly conservative bishop of Chur, a town not far from St. Moritz.
The sacking of their priest shocked the residents of Burglen, a small village of 4,000. To fight back the residents sent a petition to the bishop and he has now decided the priest can stay on. He must however promise never again to marry gay couples.
Not everyone is happy with this result. Markus Heil who is campaigning to modernize the Church is disappointed. Interviewed by the NZZ he said, “it is a small step forward for the priest of Burglen but a big step backwards for the Church”, adding that “the Church is cementing a stance that the majority of society would like to move beyond”.
Gay marriage is a hotly debated topic in Swiss politics however surveys show that most Swiss are in favour of it. According to a survey by the GFS Institute published by SonntagsZeitung, 71% said they were either for, or somewhat for gay marriage. It is also supported by some of Switzerland’s political parties and same sex couples have been recognized under Swiss law since 2007.