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Paris Archbishop resigns amid criticism of governance, allegation of scandal



I.Media - published on 12/02/21

Archbishop Michel Aupetit says he must be at service of unity; asked Pope to decide on resignation.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, the Holy See Press Office announced December 2. Archbishop Georges Pontier has been named apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

On November 25, the archbishop of Paris asked the Pope to determine if he should resign. The publication on November 22 of an article in the weekly Le Point took issue with his governance, specifically a certain “brutality” in his human relations and “authoritarianism” in his management.

The article also claimed that the archbishop had had a relationship with a woman in 2012.

Reacting to this publication, Archbishop Aupetit, on Radio Notre-Dame, said that he was shocked.

“I wondered if there were really so many people who wanted me to leave,” he said. He acknowledged, though, “having handled the situation badly with one person.”

The archbishop of Paris took the step of giving the decision to the Pope after consulting with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, and the apostolic nuncio in Paris: “I did it to preserve the diocese, because as a bishop I must be at the service of unity,” he explained. “It is not because of what I should or should not have done in the past – otherwise I would have left long ago – but to avoid division, if I myself am a source of division.”

This situation with the Paris archbishop comes on the heels of the French report on sexual abuse in the Church.

Deeply disturbed

The acceptance of his resignation was published in the official bulletin of the Holy See while Pope Francis was flying to Cyprus.

Bishop Aupetit reacted to the decision in a statement. He said he was “deeply disturbed by the attacks” against him and said he is praying “for those who may have wished him harm.”

“I ask forgiveness to those whom I might have hurt,” he added.

In speaking some days ago with Radio Notre-Dame, the archbishop denied having an affair. He acknowledged that a woman had been in contact “on numerous occasions through visits, letters, etc., to the point that I sometimes had to take steps to put distance between us.” He said that his “behavior towards her could be ambiguous, thus implying the existence between us of an intimate relationship and sexual relations, which I refute with force. (…) I decided not to see her again and I informed her of this.”

Regarding his governance, he said in that short interview, “Of course, it is normal that decisions to be made generate frustration and bitterness, but I never make them alone,” referring to various councils that also include laypeople.

On December 7, 2017, Archbishop Aupetit was appointed archbishop of the French capital. Since December 2018, he has also been a member of the Congregation for Bishops and regularly traveled to Rome to participate in the selection process for future bishops. He was also appointed a member of the Congregation for the Churches of the East in August 2019.

Archbishop Pontier appointed administrator

Archbishop Georges Pontier will serve as apostolic administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctæ until Pope Francis appoints a new archbishop of Paris.

The 78-year-old archbishop emeritus of Marseille and former president of the French Bishops’ Conference (2013-2019) was named apostolic administrator of Avignon in January 2021 to ensure the transition after the resignation of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz.

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