Pope Francis on Monday appointed Bishop Emeritus Michel Dubost of Evry-Crobeil-Essonnes as apostolic administrator sede plena et ad nutum Sanctæ Sedis of the Archdiocese of Lyon, France. 

The appointment comes as Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, has taken time off from his pastoral duties as he awaits the final court judgement for failing to report to authorities allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest of this archdiocese between July 2014 and June 2015. 

Ad-interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, explained to Vatican News that with the papal appointment, “the government of the Archdiocese of Lyons is now canonically entrusted to Bishop Michel Dubost, after he was temporarily hired by Father Yves Baumgarten, Vicar General of the Archdiocese”.  

Gisotti recalled that on 19 March, the Holy Father did not accept the resignation presented by Cardinal Barbarin, who decided to withdraw for a period of time pending the final result of his appeal.

Gisotti clarified that the appointment of Bishop Dubost does not imply the resignation of Cardinal Barbarin, who, according to the provisions of the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, is now called to collaborate “in the full, free and serene performance of the mandate of the Apostolic Administrator”.

In March, a court in Lyon found Card. Barbarin guilty of failing to report the sexual abuse of minors by Father Bernard Preynat, and handed the cardinal a six-month suspended prison sentence.

“I have never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts”, Card. Barbarin said in a statement read in court in January.  His lawyers appealed against the sentence. 

“Man of experience” with “political sense”

Welcoming the appointment of Dubost, Auxiliary Bishop of Lyon Emmanuel Gobilliard hailed the new apostolic administrator as a “man of experience” known for his “political sense”.

Although the organisation of day-to-day business of the diocese after Barbarin’s withdrawal has been “well distributed” and the decisions “collegial”, continued Gobilliard, “the real difficulty [has been] the lack of a figure of authority”.

“The diocese was being run but we couldn’t see how the situation could last”, admitted Gobilliard, hoping that Dubost will bring “unity, dynamism and momentum” to the local Church.

For his part, Lyon priest Christian Delorme expressed his conviction that Dubost “has the shoulders to carry us through” the fall-out of the Preynat abuse case and Barbarin’s appeal.

(Novena/Vatican News)