ZURICH, September 7, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Swiss court has ruled that a Catholic bishop has no authority to remove a rebel priest from his parish post under Switzerland’s labour laws.
The Basel Country cantonal court decided that Father Franz Sabo will remain at the parish of Röschenz as a parish administrator, despite the countervailing orders from Basel Bishop Kurt Koch.
Fr. Sabo has been supported by the majority of Röschenz parishioners, whom he served as pastor from 1998-2005. Fr. Sabo was removed from his pastorate in 2005 after he publicly reviled Bishop Koch and repudiated essential Catholic teachings on marriage and homosexuality.
When Bishop Koch took steps to extricate Fr. Sabo from Röschenz entirely, the parish took him to court saying they rejected "the dictate of the bishop" and would continue to contract Fr. Sabo as a parish administrator.
The judges ruled in favour of the parish, saying the diocese had authority only to revoke Fr. Sabo’s teaching authority or canonical mission. However the matter of Fr. Sabo’s complete dismissal was also ruled to violate Swiss labour laws and as such the Catholic Church must permit Fr. Sabo to resume activities as parish administrator at Röschenz .
In August 2003 Fr. Sabo blasted Bishop Koch in the Basler Zeitung newspaper calling the bishop "heartless" and the Church out of touch with the pulse of the times and with his diocese. Fr. Sabo denounced Bishop Koch’s directive banning defrocked priests from offering Mass, but also tore into the Vatican’s defense of traditional marriage and teachings against homosexuals living together.