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Thousands petition Pope Francis to reconsider decision to suspend ordinations in Toulon

A Catholic bishop blesses a child


Aleteia - published on 06/13/22

The Vatican announced on June 3 the suspension of the ordinations of the seminary of La Castille, in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon. Today more than 10,000 faithful of the le Var region have signed a petition that they intend to send soon to Pope Francis.

Rome’s decision to suspend the priestly and diaconal ordinations of the seminary of La Castille, in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon – originally planned for June 26 – is rare. The Vatican’s decision has surprised and upset many faithful, seeming to many to be unprecedented in its scope and backed by inadequate explanation. On June 4, the day after the announcement, some of the faithful of the diocese decided to write a petition to Pope Francis.

“Several parishioners of the diocese were in contact with each other saying that we had to write to the Pope to tell him that this decision is brutal, especially with regard to seminarians deprived of ordination after seven years of study and reflection,” Benoît Ab der Halden, a signatory and parishioner at St. Joan of Arc in Toulon who has been involved in the diocese for many years, told Aleteia. “The idea is to find a solution, especially for the ordinandi who find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They find themselves stuck between the Vatican’s decision and the reproaches made to a bishop in the management of his seminary and his diocese.” Concerning the bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, who has led the diocese for 22 years, he says, “Bishop Rey is daring, he has tried certain things and sometimes it has not worked. But in view of the fruits of his actions within the diocese, the decision to suspend ordinations deeply shocks us.”

Launched Friday, June 3, with a site up and running the next day, the petition is expected to be sent to Pope Francis next week. Here is the full text of the petition:

We, the faithful of the Church in France, have learned with shock and pain of the prohibitions against Mgr Dominique Rey, bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, and do not understand these motivations.

This decision that has been taken deeply concerns and shocks us, first of all for the seminarians deprived of ordination who must contend with it.

We welcome it in obedience to the Church, but we do not understand it, especially in view of what we know of Bishop Rey, of his personality and of his leadership in his diocese for 22 years.

He is a bishop who has given, by his actions but also by his personality, a lot of hope for the renewal of the Church of France.

We are seriously concerned about the lasting consequences on the relations between Rome and the Christian people of France, which are already brutally shaken.

The diocese of Toulon is unified around its bishop in a missionary impulse, as witnessed by the success of the numerous initiatives born in this diocese, in particular those that affect the most disadvantaged, or the fact that the average age of our priests is 55; these are signs of hope for our whole Church.

Of course, Bishop Rey is not perfect, no one is, but he is creative and daring. Through his actions, Mgr Dominique Rey tries to serve the unity of the Church and makes sure that everyone finds a place in it. Many of us have felt his benevolence. They can testify to this: the poor, the marginalized, the citizens of the peripheries of the world, they are his friends. He was the one who, close to his neighbor, went to look for the lost sheep, to welcome the prodigal son.

Most Holy Father, there are undoubtedly reasons for the decision taken against the seminarians and the diocese, but what we know is the immense harm that the prohibitions against Monsignor Rey will do to the Church in France.

Let us not allow the worries of Christians in France to multiply. May we be in a spirit of fraternity, truth, listening and peace. In hope, we pray.

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