Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland
LeaderBishop Harald Rein
AssociationsInternational Old Catholic Bishops' Conference
Branched fromRoman Catholic Church
Members9,184 As of 2018[1]
Christian Catholic bishop's church, Ss Peter and Paul in Bern
Christian Catholic bishop's church, Ss Peter and Paul in Bern
Church with Bernese Alps in the background
Church with Bernese Alps in the background

The Christ Catholic Church is the Old Catholic Church in Switzerland. With about 9,184 members nationwide, the Christ Catholic Church has the official status of a national church in various cantons.

Prehistory and emergence of the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland

The term "Christian Catholic" goes back to the ecclesiastical reform movement called Josephinism under Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Joseph II. Influenced by Josephinism, Febronianism and his teacher Johann Michael Sailer, the Vicar General of Constance Ignaz Heinrich von Wessenberg published the Christian Catholic Hymn and Devotional Book (Christkatholisches Gesang- und Andachtsbuch) in 1812, through which he wanted to promote the liturgy of the word with readings in German and German church singing.

By adopting this term as a self-designation, the Christian Catholic Church wanted to emphasize that, according to its conviction, Christ alone and not the Pope was the head of the Catholic Church.

The Christian Catholic Church came into being as a result of protest and resistance to the dogmas of the First Vatican Council. The term "Christian Catholic" (as Catholic without the universal primacy of the pope over all other bishops and his infallibility in matters of faith, which had been raised as a dogma) for the term "German Catholic," which had emerged around 1844, thus became common in the German-speaking world around 1870. (The prince-bishop of Breslau, Heinrich Förster, had already used the term "Christian Catholic" as opposed to "Roman Catholic" for excommunicated followers of Johannes Ronge in 1859.) An important resister was Professor and National Councilor Walther Munzinger, who had already written about the papacy and the national church in 1860. He organized the first Swiss Catholic Congress in Solothurn on September 18, 1871, which formed the core of the Christian Catholic Church.

In the course of the Swiss Kulturkampf, Christian Catholic Congregations Independent of Rome were founded in the cantons of Solothurn, Aargau, Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva by Pastor Paulin Gschwind. These gave themselves a church constitution at the first session of the National Synod in Olten on June 14, 1875. A year later, at the second session of the National Synod, Rev. Eduard Herzog was elected the first Christian Catholic bishop and was consecrated by Bishop Joseph Hubert Reinkens in Rheinfelden on September 18, 1876. The first president of the Christian Catholic Synodal Council, the executive body, was Augustin Keller, a politician from Aargau.

During his long tenure (until his death in 1924), Herzog made a significant contribution to the theological and organizational consolidation of the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland and was committed to relations with Anglican and later Orthodox churches.

School of Theology

Since the Canton of Bern wanted to strengthen liberal Catholicism, it established a Catholic theological faculty at the University of Bern on December 10, 1874.[2] However, since graduates had no prospect of working as priests in the Roman Catholic Church, only Christian Catholic clergy were de facto trained there. From 2001 to 2017, the teaching institution was incorporated as a department as the Institute for Christian Catholic Theology in the theological faculty of the University of Bern.

Recent Developments

Under Bishop Hans Gerny, women's ordination was introduced in the Christian Catholic Church in 1999. Gerny's concern was to discuss this issue in the churches of the Union of Utrecht in order to come to a decision without splitting the church. In February 2000, Denise Wyss was ordained as the first female Christian Catholic priest.[3]

There is no obligatory link between ordination and celibacy in the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland.

Between 1970 and 1990, the membership of the Christian Catholic Church decreased from 20,268 to only 11,748 members. Data from the last censuses show that the aging of the population is a much greater problem for the Christian Catholic Church than for the other national churches.[4] However, contrary to the trend of church departures from the two large national churches, the Christian Catholic Church has again recorded a constant increase in membership since 1990. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of members grew by over 13% from 11,748 to 13,312.[5] The growth is mainly due to transfers from other churches.


In ecumenism, the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland is a member at the national level of the Association of Christian Churches in Switzerland, and at the international level of the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches. At the national level, the Dialogue Commission of the Christian Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches in Switzerland (CRGK) has existed since 1966.[6] The Willibrord Society promotes relations with the Anglican Church in Switzerland.[7] The Church is also a member of the Christian Church in Switzerland.

At the international level, within the framework of the ecumenical dialogues of the Union of Utrecht, the Christian Catholic Church was represented in the Orthodox - Old Catholic Dialogue at all meetings from 1975 to 1987, in the International Roman Catholic - Old Catholic Dialogue Commission (IRAD)[8] the Christian Catholic bishop exercised the function of co-president from 2004 to 2009.[9] The IRAD commission report of this mandate period was published under the title Church and Church Communion in the series Documents of Growing Agreement.

Christian Catholic theologians are also significantly involved in the current (international) dialogue commissions of the Union of Utrecht for Dialogue with Rome, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate,[10] the Church of Sweden, and the Mar Thoma Church of India.[11]

Geographical Distribution

The largest parishes in terms of membership are Zurich, which encompasses the entire canton, with 1700 members, about one-third of whom are in the city itself, Möhlin with about 1000 members, Bern with about 800 (of which about 230 are in the city itself), and the parish of the Olten region with about 630 members (of which about 390 are in Olten). The largest parishes are in the Fricktal region of Aargau, where Kaiseraugst, Magden/Olsberg, Möhlin, Obermumpf/Wallbach, and Obermumpf/Wallbach are located.

The strongest concentration of Christian Catholics is in Fricktal, Aargau, where the parishes of Kaiseraugst, Magden/Olsberg, Möhlin, Obermumpf/Wallbach, Rheinfelden and Wegenstetten/Hellikon/Zuzgen have a total of about 2,500 Christian Catholics, almost one in five members of the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland. The political municipality with the most Christian Catholics is Möhlin (about 1,000). The municipality of Hellikon, on the other hand, has the highest proportion of Christian Catholics (about 20% of the population).

Other strong concentrations are found in the canton of Solothurn and in the Basel area.

Legal Recognition

At the federal level, there is no public-law recognition of churches (or religious communities of any other kind or orientation) in Switzerland. In accordance with Swiss federalism, Article 72 (Church and State) of the Federal Constitution assigns the relationship between state and church to the cantons. Since the Christian Catholic Church is traditionally recognized under public law wherever it maintains its own parishes, it constitutes the Third National Church (also called the Small National Church). For this reason, it also has its place in the media under public law; for example, the Word on Sunday is spoken at least once a year by a representative of the Christian Catholic Church.

Church Buildings

The Episcopal Church of Christ Catholics has been St. Peter and Paul in Bern since 1875.

Other church buildings are:


  1. ^ Bundesamt für Statistik: Religionslandschaft in der Schweiz. Archived 2020-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Institut für Christkatholische Theologie". Universität Bern. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Erste Frau in der Schweiz zur christkatholischen Priesterin geweiht". 2000-02-19. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Religionslandschaft in der Schweiz" (PDF). Eidgenössische Volkszählung 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Eidgenössische Volkszählung (1850-2000)". Bundesamt für Statistik. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  6. ^ Stalder, Kurt (2000). Sprache und Erkenntnis der Wirklichkeit Gottes : Texte zu einigen wissenschaftstheoretischen und systematischen Voraussetzungen für die exegetische und homiletische Arbeit. Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag. p. 483. ISBN 3-7278-1241-9.
  7. ^ "Anglicans and Old Catholics". Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  8. ^ Rein, Harald (2013). Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft : die Katholizität der Altkatholiken (Christkatholiken). Zürich: Edition NZN bei TVZ, Theologischer Verlag Zürich. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-290-20089-3.
  9. ^ Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft Bericht der Internationalen Römisch-Katholisch-Altkatholischen Dialogkommission. Paderborn. p. 50. ISBN 978-3-89710-456-3.
  10. ^ "Utrechter Union - Orthodox-Altkatholische Arbeitsgruppe wird vom Ökumenischen Patriarchen empfangen". Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Utrechter Union - Dritte Konsultation der Mar Thoma Syrian Church und der Altkatholischen Kirchen der Utrechter Union". 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2020.