Pope tells reporter Paris archbishop was hounded out by gossip

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis told reporters he accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris because the archbishop's reputation had been destroyed, making it impossible for him to continue leading the French archdiocese.

"There was a failure on his part, a violation of the Sixth Commandment, but not a complete violation, because it involved little caresses and massages that he gave his secretary. That's the accusation," the pope responded Dec. 6 when asked by a French reporter.

The archbishop had said he offered to step down to avoid "becoming a source of divisions," and the pope accepted his resignation Dec. 2.

The French archbishop's actions were "sinful," the pope said, "but it's not among the most serious sins. The most serious sins are not sins of the flesh," but sins like pride and hatred, especially when committed by those who pretend to be "angelic."

Too many people today pretend that they are sinless and almost demand that their bishops are, too, when "we are all sinners," the pope said.

"But when the gossip increases and increases to the point that it takes away a person's reputation, he can no longer govern," the pope said. "He lost his reputation not because of his sin, which was a sin -- like that of (St.) Peter, mine, yours, sins -- but because of the gossiping."

"A man whose reputation has been destroyed so publicly cannot govern," the pope repeated.