France: Restructuring of the Bishops Conference

Source: FSSPX News


Seven commissions instead of ten, nine committees instead of twenty episcopal committees, the creation of a board in charge of monitoring current events: such are the principal changes adopted by the bishops of France during their plenary assembly, held from June 13 to 15 at Chevilly-Larue. The aim of this reorganization is “to adapt in a better way to the questions and problems which arise today”.

The prelates decided to create a “Study and planning” board, directly elected by the assembly and made up of five bishops. “It is a kind of radar council in charge of addressing, in full liberty, the essential questions which the Church has to face,” Mgr. Georges Soubrier, the bishop of Nantes, explained to La Croix of June 16. “It is seventeen years now that I have been taking part in the bishops’ meetings, and for seventeen years I hear each time the members regret the absence of structures for rapid reaction to questions posed,” continued Mgr. Soubrier, for whom the former organization had been “a little too static”.

Another point of the reorganization: the formation of seven commissions (besides the doctrinal commission), instead of ten. Made up of bishops, they represent the central point of the work of the episcopate: “Liturgy and sacramental pastoral care”, “Catechesis and catechumenate”, “Ordained ministers and laity in ecclesial authority”, “Consecrated life”, “Exchange between churches” (formerly “Universal mission of the Church”), “France mission” and “Finance commission”.

Finally, the Bishops’ conference will henceforth consist of nine committees, which replace the twenty episcopal boards in existence up to the present. Unlike the commissions, made up solely of bishops, these committees give a large place to religious experts or laity. Their domain of intervention: “Canonical questions”, “The family and questions concerning society” (formerly “Social commission”), “movements and lay associations”, “the pastoral care of children and young people”, “unity of Christians and relations with Judaism”, “interreligious relations and new religious trends”, “solidarity”, “communication”, “economic, social and legal affairs”.

The permanent Council (executive responsible for carrying out decisions taken in plenary assembly) will continue to function with the same responsibilities.