Pope Francis accepts resignation of Paris Archbishop

The Pope accepted his resignation and named Monsignor Georges Pontier to temporarily serve his place.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Archbishop of Paris after he admitted last week to an ‘’ambiguous’’ relationship with a woman for 12 years.

Michel Aupetit said he decided to step down “to preserve the diocese from the division that suspicion and loss of trust are continuing to provoke.”

The 70-year-old cleric, who is bound by the church’s celibacy rule, has denied any intimate relationship with the unnamed woman in comments to Le Point Magazine, though he acknowledged his behaviour may have been ambiguous.

The timing of Aupetit’s announcement was unusual as it came as the Pope and the Vatican hierarchy were en route to Cyprus at the start of a five-day trip

The Pope accepted his resignation and named Monsignor Georges Pontier to temporarily serve his place pending the pontiff’s appointment of a permanent new archbishop.

Previously the Pope has taken time considering whether to accept a resignation offered as a result of the scandal. In several cases- even ones that many would see as more egregious he has rejected the offer outright and told the bishop to remain.

The resignation comes amid great upheaval in the French Catholic Church. A report in October estimated some 3000 French priests had committed sexual abuse over the past 70 years.

Last year, the Pope accepted the resignation of French Roman Catholic Cardinal Philippe Barbarin in connection with the coverup of sexual abuse of dozens of boys by a predatory priest.

It is, however, known that only Popes can hire or fire bishops, or accept their resignations. At 70, Aupetit is five years short of the normal retirement age for bishops.

Winifred Lartey

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