Monday, 14 December 2009

A remarkable French Bishop

Bishop Dominique Rey of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is a remarkable man. Before entering the seminary himself, he obtained a doctorate in economics and worked at the French Ministry of Finance. As a priest in the diocese of Paris, he also worked with the Emmanuel Community. From 1986-1988, he was superior of the chaplains at Paray-le-Monial, then exercised a post of pastoral responsibility for the seminarians and priests of the Emmanuel Community. He was a parish priest in Paris for five years before being appointed to Fréjus-Toulon in 2000.

Pope John Paul II's promotion of the "new evangelisation" has always been a priority for him, something that is reflected in the fact that his diocese celebrates on its website the presence of 27 new communities in the diocese, such as the Community of St John, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, Shalom, and Points-Coeur.

He has written a book on the incompatibility between Catholic doctrine and freemasonry, and has resolutely spoken out in the public square on pro-life issues, especially demanding that donors to the French "telethon" should be able to specify that their donations do not go to charities supporting research on embryos. In 2008, he re-consecrated his diocese to Our Lady with 4-5000 people attending the ceremony.

It is not surprising to hear that his seminary is thriving: it is the second largest in France. During the past year, Bishop Rey ordained 14 priests and 11 deacons. Here is a video about the seminary (from the Diocesan website):

Significantly, as I mentioned a while back, he ordained a further two priests this year according to the usus antiquior: for service as priests of his diocese. The diocesan seminary welcomes candidates who are attached to the older form of the Roman Rite to train alongside the other seminarians and members of the various ecclesial movements.

Bishop Rey was also one of the French Bishops who signed the letter of support for Pope Benedict following the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops.

The "new movements" in the Church tend to share a number of characteristics: loyalty to the magisterium, sound support for the Church's teaching on moral issues, especially pro-life and pro-family, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Our Lady, and a missionary zeal for evangelisation. Sometimes (OK quite often) liturgical music and ceremonies are, shall we say, tip-toeing carefully, "areas for development".

Since Summorum Pontificum, I think that many of those involved in the new movements have begun to look seriously at the question of liturgy. Their loyalty to Pope Benedict and recognition of his sound judgement have led them to be genuinely open to what might initially seem a rather puzzling support for traditional liturgy. Those who have the opportunity to attend the older form of Mass and Benediction easily find an echo in their soul of many of the Catholic values that they hold dear.

For a Bishop actively and consciously to promote such convergence in his diocese is a most welcome phenomenon which holds out much hope for the future.
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