Former Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit exonerated

Former Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit exonerated

The procedure targeting Mgr Aupetit for “sexual assault on a vulnerable person” was dismissed for “absence of offense”, announced the prosecution on Thursday September 14. This decision closes the legal episode that the former archbishop of the diocese of Paris has been facing since December 2022. The investigation was opened after a report made by the diocese of Paris, according to the procedures in use in the Catholic Church. The “vulnerable person” mentioned in the title of the procedure, a woman placed under curatorship, was in contact with Michel Aupetit when he was vicar general of the diocese of Paris, in 2012.

An email from the priest addressed to this woman was interpreted by people in the bishop’s entourage who became aware of it, eight years later, in 2020, as suggesting an intimate relationship.

According to the prosecution, the prelate “maintained never having had a sentimental or sexual relationship with the woman concerned”. The latter told investigators “to have a clear memory of the situations mentioned. She considered that they did not constitute any criminal offense, she did not file a complaint.” The prosecution therefore closed the procedure without further action.

Why did Mgr Aupetit resign?

The affair which led Mgr Aupetit to submit his resignation to the Pope arose in November 2021, with an article in the weekly Le Point. This reveals the existence of the email whose content, the signatories argue, “testifies, according to consistent sources, to an intimate relationship which would contravene the wishes of his ministry”. The Archbishop of Paris firmly denies the allegations of an “intimate relationship”, however admitting to having had “ambiguous behavior” towards the person with whom he corresponded. The media storm is growing, fueled by criticism of the archbishop’s authoritarian governance; Under pressure, Bishop Aupetit chose to present his resignation to the Pope, which was immediately accepted.

A few days later, on December 6, 2021, Pope Francis made surprising remarks regarding Mgr Aupetit. On the plane that brought him back from a trip to Greece and Cyprus, the Argentine pope spoke of “a breach of the sixth commandment, not total, of the little caresses, the massages that (Michel Aupetit) gave to the secretary.” Continuing his four-minute intervention on the subject in front of journalists, the Pope justifies his acceptance of the resignation of the Archbishop of Paris by “gossip which destroys reputation” and prevents a person from governing. “I accepted Aupetit’s resignation, not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy,” he concluded.

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