By Vatican News staff writer
Cardinal Henri Schwery, Bishop emeritus of Sion in Switzerland, died on Thursday at the age of 88 in his hometown of Saint-Léonard.
In response to his passing, Pope Francis sent a telegram on Friday to the late Cardinal’s successor, Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey. In the message, the Pope expressed his condolences to Cardinal Schwery’s family and all the faithful of the diocese he led for nearly 18 years.
“I ask our merciful Father to welcome into His peace and light this learned man and Pastor who was deeply dedicated to guiding his diocese,” wrote the Pope. He praised Cardinal Schwery’s dedication to the needs of the faithful, his promotion of priestly vocations, and his efforts to promote the unity of the Church.
Pope Francis concluded his message by imparting his Apostolic Blessing on all those whose paths had crossed that of Cardinal Henri Schwery.
Cardinal Henri Schwery, Bishop emeritus of Sion (Switzerland), was born on 14 June 1932 in Saint-Léonard, diocese of Sion, a small agricultural center in the valley of Rosano, a few kilometers from the city of Sion, Switzerland.
The last of 11 children, he studied theology at the major seminary of Sion, then continued in Rome at the French seminary of St Clare. In 1957, he was called to Switzerland to pursue further studies.
He was ordained a priest on 7 July 1957 at the age of 25. He was then sent to Fribourg and obtained a university diploma in mathematics and in physics. In 1961 he taught in Sion. For eight years, from 1958, he was diocesan chaplain of the Catholic Action of Young Students. Between 1958 and 1977, he was a military chaplain. He also served for several years as chaplain to the Our Lady of Sion children’s choir and councilor of the Swiss Committee of children choirs. From 1968 to 1972 he served as director of the minor seminary of Sion and rector of the College in Sion from 1972 until 1977.
On 22 July 1977 he was appointed Bishop of Sion and was ordained on 17 September 1977. He was also member of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1978-1983), and participated in numerous reunions on vocations and evangelization in Europe and in the extraordinary Synod of 1985. He is also Canon of honor of the territorial Abbey of Saint Maurice d’Agaunne.
He served in the Bishops’ Conference and in offices for schools, seminaries and faculties, military chaplains, health-care ministry, relations with dioceses outside Switzerland and European Conferences. From 1 January 1983 to 31 December 1988, he was President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference.
He is the author of many pastoral letters and biblical-theological reflections on the relationship between the pastor and the human and religious reality of his Church.
In 1978 he dedicated his first letter to the lay and priestly vocations. He retired as Bishop of Sion on 1 April 1995. He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope St. John Paul II created and proclaimed him Cardinal in the Consistory of 28 June 1991, bestowing upon him the titular church of Ss. Protomartiri a Via Aurelia Antica (Sts. Protomarytrs at Via Aurelia Antica).