A French bishop has warned the faithful over the “confusion” being created by a breakaway Church not in communion with the Vatican.

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In a statement September 5, Archbishop Jean Legrez of the French diocese of Albi, in the Tarn region in the country’s southwest, hit out at the self-proclaimed “Apostolic and Ecumenical Church of France”, as La Croix reports.

“Confusion is fueled by the vocabulary, gestures and vestments used by members” of the dissident group, Legrez emphasised.

“The faithful and the Catholic communities of Tarn cannot under any circumstances have recourse to the services they offer, in particular the celebrations presented in this context as sacraments (baptism, marriage, Eucharist, ordination) since they are in communion neither with the local bishop nor with the Pope”, the archbishop warned.

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The Apostolic and Ecumenical Church of France was born in the 2000s, and since then has been present in the Var, Gers, Nord, Alpes-Maritimes and Creuse regions of the country.

It claims a connection to Carlos Duarte Costa, the one-time Bishop of Botucatu, in Brazil.

Duarte Costa was excommunicated by Pope Pius XII in 1945 for his plans to set up a new Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church in which priests would be able to marry, confessions and rosaries would be scrapped and bishops would be chosen by popular vote.

That innovating spirit continues today in the Apostolic and Ecumenical Church, which bills itself as more flexible than the Roman Catholic one.

“Our liturgy is Catholic but we do not depend on Rome”, the Church says on its website.

“We welcome divorced and remarried people, LGBT people and we accept the marriage of priests and the female priesthood”, Bishop in the Apostolic and Ecumenical Church Laurent Lenne said.

Lenne, who is married with children and says he is “of Catholic faith”, is a singer-songwriter, former journalist and one-time reality TV star who was ordained a bishop in December 2018.

He criticised Archbishop Legrez for the warning against his Church, and said he would have liked “more dialogue on the part of the diocese”.

“It’s not about emptying the churches!”, Lenne said about the competition the Roman Catholic Church is facing from its Apostolic and Ecumenical counterpart.

What’s next

Not that the advice from the Roman Catholic authorities seems to be having much of an effect, though.

Some three weeks after Legrez’s warning, Lenne ordained a new priest for his Church in the town of Saint-Marcel-Campes.

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