France: Msgr. Ulrich’s Appointment to Paris

June 02, 2022
] Msgr. Laurent Ulrich taking possession of his new diocese on May 23

Msgr. Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Lille, was appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope Francis.

As Jean-Marie Guénois said in Le Figaro on April 26, 2022, he “benefits from a long episcopal experience, since he has exercised this responsibility for twenty years: first in Chambéry (2000-2008), then in the North in Lille (2008 –2022). He is a rather methodical man, renowned for his ability to manage and administer. ‘He follows the files closely; he listens to all points of view, but knows how to decide. Without being authoritarian, he has a natural authority,’ confides one of his collaborators.”

According to la Lettre de Paix liturgique, no.860 of April 26: “This man of classic appearance, but who has nothing of the traditional, is perfectly in line with the Bergoglian pontificate. In Lille, where he held the seat once occupied by Msgr. Vilnet and Msgr. Defois, he was surrounded by a clergy from the North who were more progressive than he, and among whom he had to manage with three major moral affairs.”

“But he wants everyone to know what his policies are: welcoming migrants, proximity to the poor.… A good administrator, he manages with caution, avoiding ‘fusses,’ hating noise and fury, knowing how to get collaborators to advance as ‘fuses.’”

“He will have to restore confidence with his subordinates and his clergy: the former archbishop [Msgr. Aupetit], a man with a difficult and brittle character towards his subordinates, had seen two of his vicars general, Alexis Leproux and Benoist de Sinety, slam the door and resign four months apart. Never seen before. Benoist de Sinety went to the diocese of Lille, where Archbishop Ulrich entrusted him with the large Lille parish of Saint-Eubert.”

Many wonder about the position of the new archbishop vis-à-vis the traditional liturgy, with the publication of Traditionis custodes, Paix liturgique relates, “Msgr. Ulrich (and especially his council) wanted to reduce the number of traditional Masses celebrated in these places. Negotiations followed, in which Fr. de Sinety, in whose parish St. Etienne is located [where the Tridentine Mass is celebrated], played an important role as facilitator.

“And to finish, Archbishop Ulrich made a declaration saying that nothing had changed...” On this subject, Jean-Marie Guénois reports in the article already quoted: “An observer says that he has become, with experience, 'more pragmatic than ideological.’” Time will tell what that really means.

The predecessor sacrificed on the “altar of hypocrisy”

In Rome, on the occasion of the choice of Msgr. Ulrich, the Vaticanists are more interested in Pope Francis’ criteria regarding the dismissals and episcopal appointments in France and in the world. Thus Sandro Magister, in his blog Settimo Cielo of May 5, writes: “but more than this appointment, it is the way in which the predecessor had to leave office that characterizes the pope’s management style.”

“Michel Aupetit, Archbishop of Paris since 2017, was swamped by a massive opinion campaign that dredged up and turned against him an alleged relationship with a secretary, shelved years before by ecclesiastical authorities as baseless.”

“Francis, as is known, considers like the plague what he calls ‘chatter,’ which he has branded dozens of times as even more criminal than terrorism, yet he did not hesitate to sacrifice Aupetit on what he himself, the pope, has called ‘the altar of hypocrisy.’”

“In 2020, the dismissal as archbishop of Lyon of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, acquitted in court by swamped by a media wave of accusations over an alleged abuse coverup, had also stooped to this tactic.”

“Hanging in the balance, under the blows of a similar opinion process, is now the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, in reality targeted for being one of the few prominent critics of the “synodal path” of the Church of Germany.”

“Also under fire is Milan archbishop Mario Delpini, he too accused of having covered up abuses.

Paris, Lyon, Cologne, and Milan are dioceses of the highest magnitude. Yet in them, through the dismissal of their respective officeholders, what plays the master is the ‘altar of hypocrisy,’ even for the pope.”

On April 25, on the Monday Vatican website, Andrea Gagliarducci wrote: “The problem with the altar of hypocrisy is that the weight of public opinion becomes unbearable. And this also influences the criteria for selection of new bishops, because their positions must be those that public opinion can understand so that the Church is not under attack.”

“It is an original sin that has been with us since the election of Pope Francis, who was called to change the narrative on the Church after a season of constant attacks. … Thus, Pope Francis is perhaps on his way to the last significant generational change of his pontificate with this original sin.”

“The pressure of public opinion and the sacrifices on the altar of hypocrisy, and the careerism that is not lacking, even in the pontificate of Francis – who claims to fight them vigorously -  play a decisive role in the decisions.”

The Vaticanist stresses that it is in the name of “pastorality” - that is, against doctrinal, moral and liturgical “clericalism” - that important appointments have been made: “Pope Francis, over the years, has become the protagonist of what has been defined by many as “a pastoral turning point.”

“The profile of some new bishops immediately made cardinals testifies to this: in the United States, Blaise Cupich, transferred to Chicago; Wilton Gregory, moved to Washington [DC]; and Joseph Tobin, transferred to Newark.”

“In Latin America, the creation of the Archbishop of Huancayo Pedro Carlo Barreto as cardinal, and the promotion to Archbishop of Santiago of the Franciscan Celestino Aos, but also the increasing influence of Bishop Robert Francis Prevost of Chiclayo, Peru.”

“In many cases, the pope has placed his trust in members of religious orders, particularly the Jesuits and Franciscans, because he probably feels he knows their mentality better, and finds them immune from the excesses of careerism.”

“This pastoral shift, which is also reflected in the intentions of the reform of the Curia, does not, however, guarantee good governance. In an attempt to change the approach at all costs, there is a risk of an inexperience in power that is not always good.”

And Andrea Gagliarducci wonders about one of the contradictions of this pontificate: “It can be said that this is the Church that Pope Francis wants, a Church not addicted to power but pastoral. Perhaps it’s true. But is this the way?”

“And above all, if this is the model of the Church sought, why does the pope, in any case, have no qualms in taking the prerogatives of Pope King – and this is demonstrated by the almost 40 motu proprio of the pontificate – and the universal decision-maker?”