It is not customary to publicly announce the apostolic visitation of a diocese via the nunciature. With the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, the apostolic visitation had been carried out long before the sanctions were imposed in early June. However, the Vatican Embassy in Paris informed the Archdiocese of Strasbourg on Thursday, June 23, in writing, that visitors will arrive on Monday, June 27.
What would be the possible reason for this visit, but also for this announcement? Neither the nunciature nor the diocese have specified the nature or purpose of this visit. They content themselves with noting that the visitors will be Msgr. Stanislas Lalanne, Bishop of Pontoise, assisted by Msgr. Joël Mercier, secretary emeritus of the dicastery for the clergy.
However, Le Figaro and La Croix agree in their stories posted on Friday June 24, 2022, that it is probably about the method of government of Archbishop Luc Ravel, former bishop of the diocese to the armies, and archbishop of Strasbourg since February 18, 2017.
According to Le Figaro, Francis should find nothing wrong with the personal orientation of Archbishop Ravel: not being at all traditionalist and actually a follower of the spirituality of the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. And the only French bishop to have publicly called for the re-election of President Emmanuel Macron.
It should be remembered that the Archdiocese of Strasbourg is clearly more fortunate than most of the other dioceses of France, because of the concordat which is still in force there: which means that the French State pays a salary to the clergy of the dioceses of Alsace and Lorraine, as well as subsidies for building maintenance.
According to a witness quoted by La Croix, this gives priests and pastoral workers “a certain feeling of independence vis-à-vis the bishop.”
It is also said that the priests were unhappy with the fact that Archbishop Ravel was absent from this year's Chrism Mass, as he was receiving candidate Emmanuel Macron in Strasbourg that day.
That there can be difficulties in a diocese is certainly not surprising. These are probably not major difficulties, given the publicity given to the visit. So? Would this be a way for the Vatican, and especially the Pope, to give a signal to the French bishops? But what signal? In the current climate of the end of the pontificate, it is difficult to say.