26 April 2022, The Tablet

Francis names new Paris archbishop

“My ministry as bishop of Paris will be a ministry that intends to manifest the friendship of Christ.”

Francis names new Paris archbishop

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich leads the Easter mass on April 12, 2020 in Lille.
Julie Sebadelha/Alamy

Pope Francis has named Laurent Bernard Marie Ulrich, Archbishop of Lille since 2008, as the new Archbishop of Paris.

The appointment announced today, Tuesday, comes five months after the previous archbishop resigned over reports of a relationship with a woman.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit denied any intimate relationship with the woman, though he acknowledged his behaviour may have been ambiguous.

Several days after accepting Aupetit’s resignation, Pope Francis told reporters he had done so not because the archbishop had sinned but because the gossip about him had left him in a position where he could no longer govern the large archdiocese.

Dijon-born Archbishop Ulrich is 71, turning 72 in September, so he will have to offer his resignation to Francis, who may or may not accept it, in under four years. He will likely need all the time he is allowed to bring peace and healing to the famously fractious archdiocese. Moreover, if the cathedral’s restoration proceeds as expected, he will have a presiding role at the re-opening of Notre Dame de Paris, an event newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron has promised will precede or coincide with the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Speaking with Catholic radio station RCF Hauts-de-France immediately after his appointment was announced Archbishop Ulrich said: “I immediately expressed to the nuncio a great surprise, an astonishment, almost a way of saying ‘no’. I struggled inwardly spiritually because I told myself that it wasn't for me and that I wasn't the right person for the job. I already have a few years of service, so just imagine, this is the fourth diocese I will serve.”

He went on: “My ministry as bishop of Paris will be a ministry that intends to manifest the friendship of Christ. So I don't know if I will be able to demonstrate it with my qualities and my defects. I don't know if I will really be able to show this, but it is my profound desire to consider Parisians as my friends. I have never aimed at a position, I have never had any ambition other than to do what the Church asks of me.”

Since the departure of Archbishop Aupetit in December last year, the archdiocese has been administered by Georges Pontier, Archbishop emeritus of Marseille. Archbishop Ulrich will be installed in a ceremony at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in the French capital on Monday 23 May.




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