LeFigaro: Francis Urges The Best French Bishop to Resign

The seminaries and churches of the "conservatives" are full, but Francis does not trust them, writes Jean-Marie Guénois on LeFigaro.fr.

He points out that a generation of faithful born under John Paul II and grown under Benedict XVI shows dynamism unlike the otherwise tired Church of France. Francis is blowing an icy wind in the face of these Catholics. This is met with incomprehension.

Guénois mentions the Vatican's conflict with the successful Bishop Dominique Rey of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, which has 40 seminarians and 250 priests, as well as a wealth of spiritual offerings and social activities. Of the approximately fifty communities in the diocese, five are committed to the Roman Rite.

At the end of May, the Vatican banned the planned June ordinations of four priests and six deacons. Guénois knows that the Vatican is pressuring Bishop Rey, who is only 69 and has been in office for 22 years, to resign. A coadjutor with a "different disposition" and the right of succession could also be appointed.

The method of banning ordinations and then removing the bishop was used by Francis in 2014 to remove the zealous Bishop Livieres of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, who was 69 at the time.

Guénois maintains that animosities against the Fréjus-Toulon diocese have existed for years. He says Rey had taken in a large number of seminarians who had previously been in other dioceses or religious orders. The other bishops of France would resent him for this. Rey, a lone fighter, had not taken their reservations into account. This was used in Rome to cast doubt on Rey's discernment and leadership.

According to Guénois, the Vatican has even organised a de facto ambush against Rey. A Vatican dicastery had asked Rey to compile dossiers of priests who had a traditional orientation. The apparently naive and trusting Rey supplied the data. Then the Vatican used these dossiers to take action against him.

Rey had earned additional suspicion for having appeared at a congress in London in 2016 for the celebration towards the Lord - desired by the Second Vatican Council - and for having celebrated for the pilgrimage Summorum Pontificum in Rome in 2019. The latter was in the midst of the anti-Catholic Amazon Synod.

Finally, two French bishops were given Apostolic Visitations last year, with Bishop Sylvain Bataille of Saint-Étienne visiting the seminary and Neo-Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille visiting the diocese.

A confidant of Rey told Guénois that Rey himself is not a traditionalist: "He even had to learn to celebrate in Latin! He has remained deeply charismatic." Rey walks off the beaten track, he believes that the Holy Spirit works and wants to help and support.

Guénois sums up that one can always find problems if one wants to target a bishop. As in all dioceses, there are financial difficulties and priests with moral problems.

Guénois' conclusion: to stifle the rare dynamism of the Catholic in Fréjus-Toulon would pin another scandal on Francis and make him even more misunderstood.

Pictures: Dominique Rey © Joseph Shaw, CC BY-NC-SA

Mgr. Rey moet een afzetting door paus Franciscus niet accepteren en zich los maken van de Rooms Katholieke kerk, de priesters en gelovigen in en buiten zijn bisdom zullen hem steunen.
Louis IX
Francis is fighting a losing battle against the Church.