The new archbishop of Paris was born in Dijon, northeastern France, on Sept. 7, 1951. He studied at the Jesuit high school Saint-Joseph de Reims, then obtained a master’s degree in philosophy and theology in Dijon and Lyon.
He was ordained to the priesthood in Dijon Cathedral on Dec. 2, 1979, at the age of 28. After some years serving in a parish and as a high school chaplain, he took on further responsibilities in the Dijon archdiocese. In 1985, he became episcopal vicar and in 1990, vicar general. Ten years later, he was appointed archbishop of Chambéry in southeastern France.
In 2008, he was named archbishop of Lille, a city an hour away from Paris by high-speed train. Lille is an important archdiocese with a big Catholic university and an established tradition of social Catholicism thanks to the area’s role in the Industrial Revolution.
In total, Ulrich has been an archbishop for 22 years, which is an advantage in leading a sizable archdiocese like Paris. His predecessor Archbishop Aupetit had never served as an archbishop before he was appointed to Paris in 2017, just three years after he was named a bishop in Nanterre, in the suburbs of Paris. One of the factors in Aupetit’s resignation was his difficulty in governing the archdiocese.
Ulrich has a reputation for being able to navigate the political world. This is also very important for Paris, where the archbishop spends time meeting political authorities. He gained experience in this area not only in Lille but also as a vice-president of the French bishops’ conference from 2007 to 2013. (He was also president of the bishops’ council for finance between 2001 and 2007 and is currently president of the bishops’ council for Catholic teaching, which concerns schools and universities.)
As archbishop of Paris, Ulrich will regularly meet with government officials, in particular concerning the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris after the devastating fire.