01 December 2021, The Tablet

A crisis of governance in the French Church

Archbishop of Paris

A crisis of governance in the French Church

Archbishop Aupetit


Archbishop Michel Aupetit has offered to leave office following a press report on his private life. But critics say the real problem is how he runs his diocese

In December 2017 Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris, then about to retire, denied rumours that he had lobbied Pope Francis to appoint Mgr Michel Aupetit as his successor. “Not in the slightest,” he told Le Parisien. “You know, selecting the Archbishop of Paris is child’s play (“c’est d’une simplicité enfantine!”). You go through the directory of the bishops, crossing out those too young or too old. This leaves just a few names. I gave them to the Pope, but I didn’t campaign for anyone.”

Vingt-Trois’ “child’s play” came undone last week when Michel Aupetit effectively offered his resignation following allegations published by Le Point. An email exchange with a woman friend in 2012, the magazine reported, suggested an intimate, even sexual, relationship. The archbishop admits that his behaviour was ambiguous but denies that there was any sex. He says that he distanced himself from the woman, informed his then superior (Cardinal Vingt-Trois, as it happens) and that his conscience was clear.

Aupetit’s problems began when one email was sent by mistake to his then secretary. For some mysterious reason it surfaced again last year. Le Point reports that when Aupetit’s entourage confronted him with it, he gave confused explanations before offering to resign but then changing his mind.

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