French flag in front of the Eiffel Tower © Peter Kneffel
Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of Herve Gaschignard, bishop of Aire and Dax, in southern France. Two anonymous people accuse Gaschignard of "inappropriate" behavior toward young people.
This is reported by the French newspaper "La Croix". According to the report, the families asked the church leadership to punish the bishop. So far, no charges have been filed, reports "La Croix". According to a source quoted anonymously by the newspaper, who is involved in the case, it is not a matter of sexual abuse. The press spokesman for the diocese, Paul Perromat, expressed his "shock".
The information about the resignation had come completely unexpectedly and had left many "speechless," he said in response to a question from the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
Upset and "disorder"
According to the "La Croix" report, the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, was arrested on 21. March by two youth ministry officials from the diocese of Aire and Dax that they felt "unease" about the bishop's attitudes and words toward young people. His "inappropriate" behavior had led to agitation and "disorder" among some young people, reports "La Croix".
In 2011, there had already been an investigation against Gaschignard (57) because a family had become aware of "inappropriate" behavior. Four supervisors of a youth pilgrimage addressed the Archbishop of Toulouse, Robert Le Gall, at the time. The latter had then sent a report to the Toulouse prosecutor's office as a "precautionary measure". However, according to the newspaper, the latter stopped the investigation without taking further action.
The French Bishops' Conference had announced Gaschignard's resignation at noon on Thursday. There had been rumors for several weeks about an "inappropriate pastoral attitude of the bishop". The papal nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, had also been informed of the rumors, he said.
A week ago, Gaschignard had withdrawn "indefinitely" following the plenary meeting of French bishops. He justified his withdrawal with a "fatigue due to various causes". The nuncio had finally suggested to Gaschignard a few days ago that he resign from his post with Pope Francis.
Gaschignard was in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. Had been appointed auxiliary bishop in Toulouse. Among his responsibilities there was youth ministry. In 2012, he became bishop of Aire and Dax in the south of France. Before that, he served in the seminary of Nantes. Bernard Charrier (78), bishop emeritus of Tulle, is now expected to take charge of the diocese of Aire and Dax for the time being.