Private vacation trip by Pope Benedict XVI. Mid-July 2006 in Martigny VS. He paid a visit to the Fondation Barry. However, there was never an official visit by the German pontifex maximus to Switzerland. (archive image)
On the day of his election as Pope in mid-April 2005, then Defense Minister Samuel Schmid congratulated the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI. on behalf of the Federal Council and the Swiss people by telegram and wished him “a fruitful pontificate”.
Barely two months later, the Pope was already criticizing a referendum that Swiss voters had cast at the ballot box on June 5, 2005. At that time they approved a more liberal partnership law.
Like other European countries, Switzerland, under the influence of technological change and the public opinion of some of its citizens, passed new laws “that touched on respect for family and life,” said Benedict.
The following year was all about the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Guard. On May 6, she was honored by Pope Benedict XVI. with a mass and called on the smallest army in the world to look to the future with “courage and loyalty”.
The then President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, Amédée Grab, the three Swiss cardinals, Federal President Moritz Leuenberger and army chief Christophe Keckeis also came from Switzerland.
The mass and the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony in the afternoon represented the high point of the anniversary celebrations, which had already begun in January. The first Swiss Guards came to Rome in 1506 at the request of Pope Julius II. On January 22, the first contingent of 150 men went into service in the Vatican.
In July 2006, Benedict spent his summer vacation in the Aosta Valley. From there he made a detour to pray with the Augustinian monks at the Great St. Bernard Hospice. When leaving the hospice through a side door, the pope met around 200 tourists who actually wanted to visit the monastery and unexpectedly got to see the pope.
Benedict XVI afterwards also visited the famous St. Bernard breeding farm of the hospice. The breeding was run by the monks until 2005 and was then sold to the “Barry Foundation”.
During Benedict’s term of office, the canonization of the first Swiss woman ever took place. On October 12, 2008, after more than 50 years of investigating two “miracles”, this honor went to the nun Maria Bernarda Bütler (1848-1924). She was born in Auw AG and worked as a nun in Colombia.
At the beginning of May 2010, the then Federal President, Doris Leuthard, paid an official visit to the head of the Catholic Church in the Vatican. Leuthard’s conversation with Benedikt lasted 25 minutes. The magistrate also addressed politically sensitive issues such as abuse in the Catholic Church, the ban on minarets in Switzerland and the debates about a ban on the burqa.
In November of the same year, the Pope appointed Bishop Kurt Koch, the fourth cardinal from Switzerland. Before that, Benedict had called him to Rome as Minister for Ecumenism.
“Even though we are losing a dear and very esteemed confrere in the Bishops’ Conference with the appointment of Bishop Kurt Koch, we are happy about his appointment and offer him our best blessings,” said the Swiss Bishops’ Conference after Koch’s election as President of the Council for the hear Christian unity. (SDA)