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Archbishop of Paris resigns after admitting to an ‘ambiguous’ relationship

Former Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit resigned Thursday after admitting to an “ambiguous” relationship with a woman in 2012.
(Francois Mori / Associated Press)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, who admitted to an “ambiguous” relationship with a woman in 2012.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit said in a statement Thursday that he offered to step down “to preserve the diocese from the division that suspicion and loss of trust are continuing to provoke.”

The Vatican said in a statement that the pontiff accepted Aupetit’s offer and named Monsignor George Pontier to serve in Aupetit’s place.

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Aupetit, who had led the Roman Catholic Church in Paris since 2018, sent a letter to Francis offering to resign following a report in Le Point magazine saying that he had a consensual, intimate relationship with a woman. Aupetit told Le Point he didn’t have sexual relations with the woman.

The article in Le Point relied on several anonymous sources who said they had seen a 2012 email that Aupetit had sent by mistake to his secretary. Aupetit denied being the author of the email.

Catholic prelates take vows of celibacy. At the time of the alleged relationship, Aupetit was a priest in the Paris diocese.

A landmark French report says there have been about 330,000 victims of child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in France over the last 70 years.

“I ask forgiveness of those I could have hurt and assure you all of my deep friendship and my prayers,” Aupetit said in his statement. He said he was “greatly disturbed by the attacks against me.”

In an interview last week with Catholic radio service Notre Dame, Aupetit said: “I poorly handled the situation with a person who was in contact many times with me.” Calling it a “mistake,” he said he decided to stop seeing the woman after speaking with Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the then-Paris archbishop, in 2012.

Only the pope can hire or fire bishops, or accept their resignations. At 70, Aupetit is five years shy of the normal episcopal retirement age.

The pope has refused to accept similar offers from other prelates caught up in scandal.

Pope Francis has expressed ‘shame’ on behalf of himself and the Roman Catholic Church for the scale of child sexual abuse within the church in France.

The former archbishop of the French city of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, offered to resign in 2019 after a French court convicted him of failing to report a pedophile priest. Francis initially refused Barbarin’s offer but later accepted it.

More recently, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, offered to resign over the Catholic Church’s “catastrophic” mishandling of clerical sexual abuse cases. Francis refused to accept it, and Marx remains in office.


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