Pope Francis on Tuesday named Archbishop Laurent Ulrich as the new Catholic archbishop of Paris.

Ulrich, the archbishop of Lille, northern France, succeeds Archbishop Michel Aupetit, who resigned in December.

The new Paris archbishop was born in 1951 and ordained a priest of the diocese of Dijon, eastern France, in 1979.

He was appointed archbishop of Chambéry, southeastern France, by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. He was transferred to Lille in 2008 by Benedict XVI.

Among the challenges facing the 70-year-old archbishop will be to heal the divisions exposed in the Paris archdiocese during Aupetit’s tenure from 2017 to 2021.

He will also oversee the restoration of the interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral following a devastating fire in 2019. The cathedral is expected to reopen for worship on April 16, 2024, five years after the blaze.

In his first message to his new flock, dated April 25, Ulrich said: “It is a joy for us to wait for the day of its reopening so that we can still proclaim the living Christ there, while obviously not neglecting the many reasons that attract people to it.”

“I am aware of the complexity of the challenges that will be presented to us in the years to come, and this should not worry us, but it requires our cooperation: a profoundly synodal attitude, ‘it is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium,’ according to Pope Francis.”

Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. Ibex73 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. Ibex73 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

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Aupetit submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in November 2021 after the magazine Le Point published a report portraying the archbishop as a divisive and authoritarian figure.

The report also raised concerns about Aupetit’s contacts with a woman dating back to 2012, when he was vicar general of the archdiocese. The archbishop said he was not in a relationship with the woman.

Pope Francis accepted Aupetit’s resignation on Dec. 2, 2021, but later expressed doubt about the validity of the criticisms of the archbishop.

During an in-flight press conference a few days later, the pope told journalists that he had accepted Aupetit’s resignation “on the altar of hypocrisy” because the archbishop had “lost his reputation so publicly.”

Aupetit announced in February that he would continue to serve as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, after receiving encouragement from Pope Francis.

The Paris archdiocese, which dates back to the 3rd century, serves an estimated 1.3 million Catholics out of a total population of around 2.2 million people.

The archdiocese said on April 26 that Ulrich will be installed as the 142nd archbishop of Paris at 6:30 p.m. local time on May 23 at the Church of Saint-Sulpice.

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