Last week, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Michael Aupetit, former Archbishop of Paris.
On his return flight to Rome this Monday, he elaborated on the context of Aupetit’s resignation due to his relationship with a woman.
“There was a failure on his part, a violation of the Sixth Commandment, but not a complete violation, because it involved little caresses and massages that he gave his secretary. That’s the accusation.”
He emphasized that Aupetit’s actions were “sinful, but it’s not among the most serious sins.”
“The most serious sins are not sins of the flesh. He lost his reputation not because of his sin, which is sin—like Peter’s, like mine, like yours, it is sin—but because of the chatter of the people responsible for talking about things. A man who has had his fame taken from him so publicly cannot govern, and that is an injustice. That is why I accepted Aupetit’s resignation, not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy.”
He elaborated further on the idea that we are all sinners, including himself, St. Peter, and Aupetit.
“And how did the community of that time accept a sinful bishop? And he had a sin of great ‘angelcality’ that is denying Christ, but it was a normal Church, it was accustomed to feeling like a sinner, always, everyone, it was a humble Church. You can see that our Church is not used to having a sinful bishop, and we pretend that our bishops are saints. No. That’s like ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’ We are all sinners.”
Read Pope Francis’ full answer as to why he accepted Aupetit’s resignation below:
“Before answering I will say: do the investigation, eh, do the investigation … because there is a danger of saying: he was condemned. Who condemned him? Public opinion, gossip. But what did he do? We don’t know, something … If you know why, say so, otherwise I cannot answer and you will not know why. Because it was his failure, a fault against the sixth commandment — but not total — of small caresses and massages that he gave to the secretary, so stands the accusation. This is sin, but it is not of the most serious sins, because the sins of the flesh are not the most serious. The gravest sins are those that are more angelic: pride, hatred. These are graver. So Aupetit is a sinner, as am I — I don’t know if you are aware … but probably — as was Peter, the bishop on whom Jesus Christ founded the Church.
Why did the community of that time accept a sinful bishop, and with sins of such an angelic nature as denying Christ! But it was a normal Church, it was accustomed to everyone always being sinful, it was a humble Church. You can see that our Church is not used to having a sinful bishop. We pretend to say my bishop is a saint. … not this red hat … we are all sinners. But when the gossip grows, grows, grows, and takes away the reputation of the person. He will not be able to lead because he has lost the reputation, not because of his sin, which is sin — like Peter’s, like mine like yours — but because of the gossip of the people responsible for reporting things, a man who has lost his reputation so publicly cannot govern. And this is an injustice and that is why I accepted Aupetit’s resignation, not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy. This is what I want to say.”