A priest in Switzerland has been forced to resign after he blessed a lesbian couple in a ceremony that he said had been similar to a wedding.
Fr Wendelin Bucheli, parish priest of Bürglen in the Swiss diocese of Chur, blessed the couple in his parish church last October. Afterwards he told the press that the ceremony had not differed greatly from a marriage ceremony.
His bishop, Vitus Huonder of Chur, has now said that he must resign as parish priest and leave the diocese.
Fr Bucheli will be returning to his home diocese of Lausanne.
In a statement the diocese said that Bishop Huonder and Bishop Charles Morerod of Lausanne had agreed that according to canon law it was possible to bless a homosexual couple but “not possible to contract a homosexual partnership”.
The pro-reform Austrian Priests’ Initiative (API) said the dismissal was “most worrying and unacceptable”.
“It not only affects the priest but also the couple he blessed and all homosexual Catholics. Once again doors are being banged shut for people who want God and the Church to be part of their lives and accompany them,” Fr Helmut Schüller, API spokesman said.