Switzerland Repeals Law Against Holy See

Had Required State Permission for New Dioceses

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FRIBOURG, Switzerland, JUNE 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- An article of the Swiss Constitution, which impeded the Holy See from creating new dioceses without the permission of federal authorities, was repealed in a referendum Sunday.

The constitutional reform, to do away with the discrimination against the Catholic Church — there was no such law for other Christian confessions — was passed with 64.2% of the vote.

Catholic cantons approved the measure with 70% of the vote, but in Protestant locales, the vote oscillated between 50% and 60%.

Father Marc Aellen, assistant secretary-general of the Swiss bishops´ conference, applauded the majority «yes» to suppress the clause, which he described as «discriminatory and obsolete.»

The topic was especially controversial in Geneva and Zurich, two cradles of the Protestant Reformation.

If a new diocese were to be created, «a long [process] of consensus would be carried out,» Father Aellen said. He added: «No bishopric has been created without the approval of the local Church.»

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