Appointed by the sovereign pontiff last month, Bishop Ulrich, aged 70, succeeds Michel Aupetit, after his resignation accepted at the beginning of December. The latter was challenged for his management of human resources and several newspapers had lent him a romantic relationship with a woman, which he had categorically denied.
Symbol of the importance he attaches to this monument, the new archbishop first celebrated, in the middle of the afternoon, vespers on the forecourt of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. Facing this jewel of Gothic art, surrounded by priests and under the gaze of the faithful and tourists, he received the episcopal crozier from the hands of Georges Pontier, bishop who had been in charge of the diocese ad interim since the departure of Michel Aupetit. .
Previously, the chancellor of the diocese read Pope Francis’ letter of appointment enjoining him to be, for the clergy as well as the Parisian faithful, a “spiritual father and an attentive and peaceful guardian”.
Laurent Ulrich then gathered inside the monument, in the middle of the scaffolding, the building still being restored since the fire of April 2019 which partially destroyed it.
His installation was to continue at the end of the day with a welcome mass, at the Saint-Sulpice church (VIth arr), in front of some 2,000 people. The diocese’s 500 priests and deacons have been invited, according to the diocese. Authorities, faithful and about forty bishops will be present.
“I wish him great success in his missions”, has already tweeted Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior in charge of worship, who will represent the government.
– “Need of all” –
Archbishop of Lille since 2008, the prelate was initially surprised by his appointment. After the surprise effect, “I begin my ministry with the inner feeling of deep peace,” he told AFP.
The diocese of Paris is the largest in France, with more than 500 active priests, around a hundred parishes, salaried or voluntary lay people involved in various movements and missions (homeless, migrants, etc.).
Like the president of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF) – currently Eric de Moulins-Beaufort – the new archbishop is the one who embodies the first French cult with political authorities, civil society and the media.
Involved in the cause of migrants, a man with social fiber and recognized organizational talents, Bishop Ulrich presents a moderate profile within the Catholic episcopate, unreservedly espousing the orientations of Pope Francis.
Bishop Ulrich, who is not from the Parisian seraglio, will have to tackle as a priority to appease and restore unity among the priests and faithful of the capital, in a divided diocese, where criticism of the management of Michel Aupetit have increased in recent months. “There are various groups in the Church (…), I will meet them, listen as much as possible. In the Church, we need everyone,” said the prelate.
Among the files he inherited is also the continuation of the Notre-Dame de Paris restoration project, in dialogue with the State and under the watchful eye of the faithful and many donors.
“It is a grace that is given to the Church of Paris and its archbishop to receive this cathedral, in the state it is in, and to bring it to the resumption of worship in 2024 and the opening to the public. . This makes me very happy,” he also said.
To carry out his missions, he will only have five years ahead of him, before his retirement (fixed at 75 years by the law of the Church).
A native of Dijon, holder of a double master’s degree in philosophy and theology, Laurent Ulrich was ordained a priest in 1979 and appointed bishop of Chambéry in 2000.