Cardinal Henri Schwery, former bishop of the largest diocese in Switzerland, died in Saint Léonard, Switzerland on January 7, 2021. He was 88 years old.
Born in 1932 in Saint-Léonard, Switzerland, the future Cardinal Schwery was the youngest of 10 children. He entered the seminary in Sion, Switzerland before continuing his formation at the French seminary of St. Clare in Rome. After his ordination, he served first in Fribourg before, in 1968, being made rector of the minor seminary in Sion. He became rector of the college in Sion in 1972.
In 1977, Schwery was consecrated bishop and appointed Bishop of Sion by Pope Paul VI. Bishop Schwery was named to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 1991 and served as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and Congregation for Divine Worship. Due to health problems, he resigned as Bishop of Sion in 1995, though he participated in the 2005 conclave which elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.
For traditional Catholics, Schwery is perhaps best known for presiding over the diocese where Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four bishops for the Society of Saint Pius X in 1988. Schwery, who had a fraught relationship with the Society, disapproved of the consecrations and called for unity in the Church.
When Archbishop Lefebvre reposed in 1991, no official representatives from either the Vatican or the Swiss Church attended his funeral. However, Bishop Schwery along with Edoardo Rovida, Papal Nuncio to Switzerland, privately visited the Archbishop’s body and prayed over it.