And once more the number 120 takes a step closer. Swiss Cardinal Henri Schwery turns 80 today and so makes the number of cardinal electors drop to 121.
Born as the last of eleven children in a small village near the city of Sion in Switzerland, Henri Schwery was proficient student, studying at seminaries in Sion and Rome. After his ordination in 1957, Father Schwery studied mathematics and physics at Fribourg, and then went to work as a teacher and chaplain to both the Catholic Action of Young students and the children’s choir of Our Lady of Sion. He was also a military chaplain.
Father Schwery become the director of the major seminary of Sion in 1968, a function he would hold until 1972, after which he was rector of the College in Sion until 1977. In that year, on 22 July, Father Schwery was appointed as bishop of Sion, one of Switzerland’s oldest dioceses. Bishop Schwery was consecrated on 17 September 1977. In 1978 he became a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He was active in the fields of evangelisation and vocation, and took his previous experience as chaplain of various institutions and groups to further their religious identity throughout Europe.
Created a cardinal in the consistory of 28 June 1991, Cardinal Schwery holds the title church of Santi Protomartiri a Via Aurelia Antica. In April of 1995 he resigned as Bishop of Sion, and today he also takes leave from his remaining duties as a member of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and these days the papal delegate to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, yesterday apologised once again for the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. He did so in a homily given at Station Island in Lough Derg, an ancient pilgrimage site in the north of Ireland.
Prior to the Mass and homily, Cardinal Ouellet met for two hours with various victims of sexual abuse, which was a deeply moving encounter, as the cardinal said. He stayed overnight at the island, together with Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, the diocese in which Lough Derg is located. At the time of his ordination, in July of 2010, Bishop MacDaid said about the abuse crisis, “We [the church] have been brought to our knees but maybe that is no bad thing,” which is exactly what the delegation did at Station island. They fasted and joined other pilgrims in acts of penitence.
Following the homily, the following intercessions were prayed:
For the Church: that its leaders be bestowed with wisdom and courage to strengthen people’s faith and nourish them on their journey. Lord, hear us.
For all of us here present: that we may be the salt of the earth for those around us and a light to guide people on their pilgrim way. Lord, hear us.
For the failure to love, respect, nurture and cherish young people, particularly the most vulnerable, we ask your forgiveness. Lord, hear us.
For the crimes and sins of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated against children and young people, especially in Church-run institutions, by clergy and other servants of the Church. Lord, hear us.
For the inadequate response often given by Church leaders when abused people told their stories, we ask forgiveness. Lord, hear us.
That all whose lives have been broken by abuse of any kind may experience support and lasting healing. Lord, hear us.
For personal intentions, for intentions of other pilgrims and for all who are sick. Lord, hear us.
For all who have been bereaved, and for our dead, especially family members and other loved ones; for those who died recently, all who have been pilgrims to Lough Derg and for those who died tragically or through violence. Lord, hear us.
Lord God, through the intercession of Patrick our Patron, hear the prayers of your people gathered here in faith and hope. As you nourish us with your word, give us also the bread that gives us life – Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
On the world stage, Cardinal Ouellet is becoming the Church’s point man when it comes to personal account with victims and internal reparation for the sins committed. In February, he led a penitential liturgy in Rome, and as the responsibility of bishops in cases of sexual abuse is ever under scrutiny in and outside of the Church, it is sensible for the prelate in charge of appointments of bishops to be closely involved.
A translation of the Cardinal’s homily is available here.