Catholic World News News Feature
Swiss court supports rebel priest against bishop September 10, 2007
A Swiss court has ruled in favor of a dissident Catholic priest who challenged his bishop's legal authority to remove him from his parish.
A court in Basel ruled that Bishop Kurt Koch violated labor laws when he order Father Franz Sabo to leave his parish in Röschenz. The bishop had revoked the priest's canonical mandate in 2005, after a series of public clashes on matters of Catholic doctrine and discipline. Bishop Koch explained at the time that he was taking action because the pastor was not properly representing the teachings of the Church. "A man with a mandate from the Catholic Church must show some allegiance to that Church," the bishop said.
But Father Sabo claimed the support of the Röschenz parish council and challenged the bishop's authority. He has remained at the head of the parish, in defiance of the bishop, despite the threat of disciplinary action that could include excommunication.
Earlier this year Bishop Koch rejected a suggestion from the Basel court that he enter into mediated talks with Father Sabo. The bishop insisted that his authority over the diocese could not be subject to court control.