The Archbishop of Reims and new President of the French Bishops’ Conference, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, has signalled his intention to overhaul the model of priestly ministry in the diocese in response to a dramatic shortage of vocations.

Why it matters

Currently in Reims a total of just 79 priests serve a population of over 180,000 people. Of that number only 27 are under 70 years of age and only 7 are aged under 50.

The big picture

“I am thinking of a more itinerant ministry, modeled on past missions”, de Moulins-Beaufort revealed in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

“Maybe spend a couple of weeks in one place, then somewhere else”, the archbishop added, raising the possibility that his priests might travel from place to place in pickup trucks.

“One can’t propose the same [model of priestly ministry] in all places all the time”, warned the prelate.

For the record

“I expected to face this challenge because it is the case of many dioceses in France”, said de Moulins-Beaufort of the priest shortage in the diocese he took over last year.

“Also in Paris, where I was auxiliary bishop between 2008 and 2018, we had great contingents of priests in the postwar period”.

“Now there are many elderly people and many others have died. You can’t continue with the system there was when there were many priests”.