Rumors? Lawsuit? … Archbishop Aupetit breaks silence

The former Archbishop of Paris addresses the media accusations and clarifies Pope Francis’ reference to his secretary; the woman suggests media sexism.

Rumors? Lawsuit? … Archbishop Aupetit breaks silence

Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

Mgr Aupetit en 2019.

Agnès Pinard Legry – published on 12/14/21

The former Archbishop of Paris addresses the media accusations and clarifies Pope Francis’ reference to his secretary; the woman suggests media sexism.

In an interview with Le Parisien, the archbishop emeritus of Paris, Michel Aupetit, returns to the rumors circulating about him for the last several days, launched by two separate French media organizations, and the lawsuit against Paris Match.

The former archbishop of Paris addressed directly the more recent rumors of an affair implied in an article of Paris Match, as well as the lawsuit that he intends to file.

“This has nothing to do with a love relationship or a sexual relationship. It is a friendship. On a personal and spiritual level, we are on the same wavelength,” he said of his relationship with Laetitia Calmeyn, a professor at Collège des Bernardins and a consecrated virgin. This relationship was drawn to the public’s attention by Paris Match, after the archbishop had already been accused of an unseemly relationship some days earlier by Point.

Calmeyn herself spoke in an interview with La Croix, “If it had been a man, a priest, at Bishop Aupetit’s side, would there have been the same media treatment?”

She continued: “Should women in the Church be reduced to objects of suspicion, fantasy, jealousy or servility? Does all this mean that, in the Church and in the eyes of the world, a relationship between a man and a woman lived in friendship is unthinkable?”

Aupetit prepares for lawsuit

Addressing the insinuations made by the weekly magazine, Aupetit said his lawyer is currently drafting a suit for defamation “I cannot accept that my silence be interpreted as an admission of guilt.”

Calmeyn also referred to the prospect of litigation, saying that “lawyers are exploring all possible legal avenues. There will be a complaint. […] We must avoid that this happens again.”

Earlier accusations

Regarding the insinuations made in the Point article published at the end of November, Aupetit addressed the email sent to a woman when he was vicar general. “I answered a letter and my secretary was able to read it, since we shared the same mailbox,” he said.

“There was no affair. Once, this person had a backache. I gave her a massage to relieve her. I remind you that I am a doctor.”

These details, he said, he has never hidden from the hierarchy. “I did not lie to the Pope. He was perfectly aware,” he says.

“If I play the blame game, I am no longer following the Gospel.”

Was he surprised by the Pope’s decision to accept his resignation? “If he had asked me, I would have weathered the storm. I could have done it,” says the former archbishop. “I guess he felt that the situation could weaken the diocese.”

He readily used the term “cabal,” but he chose not to enter into a reckoning. “People have been pointed out to me, networks that have a grudge against me and that have acted. But I have no proof. I prayed to God not to put bitterness in my heart and I prayed for those who want to hurt me,” he explained. “If I play the blame game, I am no longer following the Gospel.”

Pope to the bishops of France

During a December 13 private audience of the Pope with the presidency of the French bishops’ conference, the situation of Aupetit was discussed.

“He simply told us of his sadness at this situation and the decision he had to make,” reported Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort.

“He repeated what he had said on the plane [which brought him back from Greece, Editor’s note], namely that he had made this decision on the altar of hypocrisy and not of the truth because he considered that the climate which had been created did not allow Mgr Aupetit to govern the diocese peacefully.”

The Archbishop of Reims then confided that the Pope had reiterated “all his esteem for the pastoral action of Mgr Aupetit.”

[Article updated to include report of Pope’s recent comments]

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