News Update

New Catholic Archbishop of Paris Invokes ‘Synodal Spirit’ at Installation Mass

By Courtney Mares

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich was installed on Monday as the new Catholic Archbishop of Paris.

The installation Mass took place on May 23 in the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the second-largest Catholic church in the French capital, which is serving as a temporary cathedral while Notre-Dame de Paris undergoes restoration.

In his homily, Ulrich spoke about developing “a missionary spirit and a collaborative spirit, which is really the synodal spirit” in the archdiocese.

He said that meant encouraging vocations, offering charity to the most vulnerable, and listening to the cries of abuse survivors.

“This is not a program, it is an attitude that changes us and transforms us, which makes us witnesses of the living Christ in the world in which we ourselves live,” he said.

Originally from Dijon in eastern France, Ulrich is the 142nd archbishop of Paris.

He succeeds Archbishop Michel Aupetit, who resigned in December 2021. Aupetit announced in February this year that he would continue to serve as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, after receiving encouragement from Pope Francis.

Ulrich, who is 70 years old, was the archbishop of Chambéry, southeastern France, from 2000 to 2008. He served as the archbishop of Lille, northern France, from 2008 until his appointment to Paris.

Among the challenges facing the new archbishop will be to heal the divisions exposed in the Paris archdiocese during Aupetit’s tenure from 2017 to 2021.

Before the evening installation Mass, Ulrich presided over vespers in the public square in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

As the archbishop of Paris, Ulrich will be responsible for overseeing the restoration of Notre-Dame’s interior following a devastating fire in 2019. The cathedral is expected to reopen for worship on April 16, 2024, five years after the blaze.

Speaking about the cathedral fire, Ulrich said: “I greet all the people of Paris who felt this wound with infinite sadness, but also with the immense pride of knowing that they are mysteriously and universally supported.”

The Archdiocese of Paris, which dates back to the third century, serves an estimated 1.3 million Catholics out of a total population of around 2.2 million people.

At the end of his homily, Ulrich invoked the intercession of some of the saints who lived in Paris, including St. Denis, St. Geneviève, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine Labouré, and St. Charles de Foucauld.

“We are not lacking in models or intercessors: they have been courageous witnesses and above all simple servants. … May the grace of the Lord thus make us bear fruit,” he said.