Bishop Rey reveals that vocations, seminary formation, and traditionalist movements all elements in recent Vatican decision.
Three weeks after the suspension of ordinations in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, Bishop Dominique Rey addressed in a press release dated June 26, 2022, the reasons that led Rome to pursue such a radical decision. Bishop Rey acknowledged, among other things, “errors of discernment” and “the place of the traditionalist world” in his diocese, which constituted “one of the sensitive points.” Saying that he is still waiting for Rome’s decision, the French bishop explained that he is in dialogue with Cardinal Marc Ouellet – who is currently the prefect of the dicastery for bishops – in order to “clear up the questions that remain.” Concerning questions about the quality of priestly formation in his seminary, he announced that the seminary of Castille would be affiliated with the Catholic Faculty of Lyon.
While four diaconal ordinations and six priestly ordinations should have been celebrated on June 26 in Toulon, Bishop Rey chose this same Sunday to offer more insight into Rome’s surprising decision to postpone the ordinations. He did not, however, give any details about the future of the ten ordinands, but referred to them as “future ordinands.”
In this first public communication since the June 2 announcement of the suspension of ordinations, the 69-year-old bishop acknowledges that this news has caused “great emotion” and that it calls for “a follow-up and clarification.” “I am in dialogue with Roman authorities, including Cardinal Ouellet directly, in order to clear up remaining questions and to find all possible means to improve the functioning of the diocese, the accompaniment of the communities, the welcome and the formation of vocations,” he assures the people of his diocese. Bishop Rey also stated that he maintains a trusting relationship with his metropolitan archbishop of Marseilles, Cardinal-designate Jean-Marc Aveline.
Seminary and seminarians
While some voices have criticized the lack of discernment in receiving certain seminarians in Toulon, Bishop Rey explains that his seminary “is distinguished by the presence of candidates belonging to communities of diverse liturgical sensibilities and ecclesial charisms.”
To respond to the “constant challenge” of unity and integration of these varied vocations arriving in the Var, the bishop announced that recommendations established after pastoral visits are being implemented: “The project of affiliation with the Catholic faculty of Lyon, the project of inter-seminary formation in Provence, the improvement of the follow-up and discernment of seminarians, etc.” Thus, the seminary of Castille will no longer be independent.
Pastoral visits throughout the diocese
Bishop Rey states that “the origin of vocations and the plurality of formation paths may have raised questions in Rome,” as well as the presence of numerous religious communities that may have generated a concern for accompaniment and integration. He clarified, however, that the Vatican’s decision was not taken as a result of “questions of morality.”
“The fragility, the failures, the difficulties observed in some of these communities require us to be ever more vigilant,” he insists, acknowledging that he “may have made errors of discernment” in welcoming communities or in accompanying them. “To all those who have suffered, I sincerely ask forgiveness,” he confided. Appointed bishop of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in 2000, Bishop Rey announced the organization of “a major cycle of pastoral visits throughout the Var region” that will begin next fall.
Finally, he indicated that “the place of the traditionalist world in our seminary and in the diocese is also one of the sensitive points raised by the Roman congregations.” After the publication of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes in July 2021, Rome drastically limited the possibility of celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The Vatican has proved particularly strict with certain traditionalist communities, in the name of the unity of the Church and the application of the Second Vatican Council.
In his press release, Bishop Rey explains that he has “always sought to integrate this movement within true ecclesial communion, in fidelity to the Holy Father and to the Roman Magisterium, in particular the Second Vatican Council.”