Pope Francis Accepts Archbishop's Resignation Due to 'Gossip' About Relationship With Woman

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an archbishop who says he can no longer perform his duties due to "gossip," according to the Associated Press.

Francis made the announcement about Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, France, on Monday. He told reporters that Aupetit had "lapses" during what is being referred to as an "ambiguous" relationship with a woman almost a decade ago. The Pope said that everyone, including himself, commits sins that can be forgiven, although sometimes talk of those sins can affect people.

"We're all sinners," Francis said. "When the gossip grows and grows and removes someone's good name, he cannot govern."

He further explained that he had accepted the resignation "not on altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy."

Le Pointe, a French magazine, published the news of Aupetit engaging in a consensual and intimate relationship with a woman last month. After the report was published, Aupetit offered to resign from his position as the Archbishop of Paris. Le Pointe interviewed several anonymous sources who claim they read an email mentioning the relationship after it was sent to them by mistake. In a statement, Aupetit said that he submitted the resignation "to preserve the diocese from the division that suspicion and loss of trust are continuing to provoke."

Aupetit has denied the relationship. The identity of the woman that the archbishop allegedly courted has not been released.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Archbishop Aupetit
Pope Francis announced the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, France, on Monday. Above, Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit arrives to lead a mass which brought together 9000 pilgrims in the Pie X basilica to commemorate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15, 2021, in Lourdes, southern France. Photo by Fred Scheiber/AFP via Getty Images

French media reports also cited governance problems as a possible reason underlying Francis' decision.

But Francis said the lapses made by Aupetit weren't even that serious and only involved "some caresses and massages." He added, that regardless, everyone is a sinner, including the pope himself.

"This is an injustice," Francis added.

Francis was also asked about the devastating results of a French inquiry into cases of clergy sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church. The independent study estimated some 330,000 children overall were victims of sexual abuse linked to the church from 1950-2020. The inquiry's methodology has been questioned, however, since the data was based on projections, not just files.

Francis said he hadn't read the report, but he stressed that with any such historical evaluation, it must be interpreted through the prism of the period under study. He said for the church and the question of clergy sexual abuse decades ago, that meant recalling that it was common for all abuses to be covered up, within families, the church and society at large.

Pope Francis Dec 6
Pope Francis greets the journalists onboard the papal plane on the occasion of his five-day pastoral visit to Cyprus and Greece, Monday, December 6, 2021. Francis' five-day trip to Cyprus and Greece has been dominated by the migrant issue and Francis' call for European countries to stop building walls, stoking fears and shutting out "those in greater need who knock at our door." Alessandro Di Meo/Pool photo via AP