Autumn is well underway on October 5, but Rome is still suffering from stifling heat. The day before, under the blazing sun of this Indian summer, the Pope kicked off the first general embly of his synod on synodality, a large meeting aimed at reflecting on the future of the Church. However, that day, Francis took the time to receive a French bishop who had nothing to do with the synod: Monsignor Antoine Hérouard, at the head of the diocese of Dijon. This is because the matter which the two men must discuss deserves the special attention of the Pope.
On the agenda of the discussion, the hazardous governance of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon by its bishop, Dominique Rey, in place for twenty-three years, and the fate that must be reserved for him. It’s been a few weeks now since Mgr Hérouard transmitted to the Holy See the report of the investigation which he had been charged with carrying out in the diocese of his colleague in the South. The distrust towards the latter is such that the Pope banned him in June 2022 from ordaining new priests.
Poor financial management, welcoming priests that no other diocese would have wanted, explosion in the number of traditional mes, total lack of supervision of communities in the diocese… The criticisms addressed to the Bishop of Toulon are numerous.
Taking control of finances
If the Holy See finally decided not to dismiss Mr.gr Rey, he should still announce, Tuesday, November 21, that he is placing him under a form of guardianship. As initially revealed by the newspaper Release, the bishop of Fréjus-Toulon should be awarded a “coadjutor” in the person of Mgr François Touvet, today at the head of the diocese of Châlons-en-Champagne. A function which normally serves to ist a bishop in his task before succeeding him. In reality, Mgr Touvet will have the upper hand over the management of the diocese: ordination of priests, supervision of the seminary and therefore of training, bringing potentially problematic communities into line, taking control of finances. Thus emptying the post of Mgr Rey with all his substance.
“It’s a decision that has the merit of a smooth transition”comments a good connoisseur of the file before adding that “Mgr Touvet would not have accepted this position if he did not have the freedom to be able to correct what was necessary and make decisions in the diocese”. The new prelate of the place is quite simply entrusted with the difficult mission of putting Fréjus-Toulon back on the right path.
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