A statue of Charles de Foucauld in front of the Church of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune in Strasbourg, France. / Maykova Galina via Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, Feb 28, 2024 / 12:46 pm (CNA).

After a nearly year-long vacancy, Pope Francis has appointed a new head of the French Archdiocese of Strasbourg, which has been subject to an apostolic visitation and two high-profile episcopal resignations in the past several years. 

The Holy See Press Office announced on Wednesday the appointment of 66-year-old Pascal Delannoy as the diocese’s new archbishop. The see had been vacant since the resignation of former Archbishop Luc Ravel in April 2023.

“I am happy to greet each of you as our Pope Francis has just named me Archbishop of Strasbourg,” Delannoy wrote in a Feb. 28 statement. 

“I welcome this appointment with confidence and serenity and I warmly thank Philippe Ballot, Bishop of Metz, for having administered the diocese during the vacancy of the see following the resignation of Luc Ravel.”

In June 2022, Pope Francis ordered an apostolic visitation to the diocese amid concerns over the pastoral health of the diocese regarding Ravel’s management style. One local Catholic journalist described that style as “very authoritarian” and “very managerial,” akin to “certain HR managers in the lucrative private sector.” 

In April 2023, Ravel, 65 at the time, submitted his resignation, which was accepted by both Pope Francis and President Emmanuel Macron. 

The ancient Archdiocese of Strasbourg dates back to the 4th century and is located in the historically contested mixed Franco-German region of Alsace. 

The archbishop is selected in a power-sharing agreement by both the pope and the president of France, a process resulting from the 1801 concordat between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. While abrogated in the rest of France in 1905, it remained in force in the region of Alsace as it was annexed by the Germans in 1871. Alsace was returned to France at the end of the First World War. 

After Ravel’s resignation in 2023, Pope Francis appointed the Archbishop of Metz, Philippe Ballot, as apostolic administrator. 

The archdiocese faced another high-level episcopal departure earlier this year when on Feb. 14 Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the 51-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Gilles Reithinger. 

The Holy See Press Office did not provide any details on the nature of the resignation. However, a communiqué by the Archdiocese of Strasbourg, signed by Ballot, suggested that Reithinger resigned due to “health reasons,” which “prevented him from fully exercising his episcopal ministry.”

“In these circumstances, he decided to present his resignation to the Holy Father, who accepted it. Within the concordat framework, the public authorities were duly notified,” the communiqué continued. 

Reithinger, who was made superior general of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEPs) in 2017 and appointed as auxiliary bishop of Strasbourg in June 2021, was accused of failing to report abuse cases that came to his desk, which included one accusation against Father Aymeric de Salvert, his former collaborator within the general house of MEPs. 

He was later accused of failing to report accusations made against Bishop Georges Colomb, former superior general of MEPS, which allegedly transpired in 2013. 

According to a press release by the Archdiocese of Strasbourg, Delannoy’s installation Mass will take place on Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m. local time at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. 

Born on April 2, 1957, Delannoy studied economics at the Catholic University of Lille. After working as an accountant for several years, he discerned a vocation and was ordained a priest for the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lille on June 4, 1989.

Delannoy served as auxiliary bishop of Lille from 2004 to 2009 and was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 as bishop of Saint-Denis, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Paris.

The French prelate served as the vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference of France from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the president of the conference’s Episcopal Commissions on Finances and on Economic, Social, and Legal Affairs. 

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