The diocese of Fréjus-Toulon published a communiqué signed by its bishop on June 2 announcing the suspension of ordinations that were to take place at the end of the month.
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The decision made by the Holy See is too rare to be fully understood at this time. In a press release issued on June 2, Bishop Rey of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon announced that the Vatican had requested that the ordinations scheduled for June 26 be suspended.
Without any real explanation, the text indicates that the bishop has been instructed to “suspend the diaconal and priestly ordinations.” Four future deacons and six future priests will therefore have to wait, without the communiqué giving any information on a possible postponement. The statement calls the decision “a test” for these young men who have been preparing to give their lives for the past six or seven years in a seminary – that of La Castille, between Toulon and Hyères – where some 70 seminarians are studying.
This is one of the dimensions of the problem. The third largest seminary in France in terms of numbers, the Castille welcomes many young people from new communities or foreigners from far away, even from Latin America. This openness is the trademark of the episcopate of Bishop Rey, who has been present in le Var for 22 years and is a great promoter of the New Evangelization. This openness has also given rise to questions in various Roman dicasteries.
Without any disciplinary measures being taken, or even a request to restructure the seminary to allow for a serene discernment, Rome asked that ordinations be suspended…
Rome, in fact, is questioning the value of discernment and formation in a seminary where such a variety of seminarians live together. To answer these questions, the Holy See has asked Archbishop Aveline of Marseilles, who was named a cardinal just last week, to make a “fraternal visit” as the press release describes it. The subject was also raised by Archbishop Rey with Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Without any disciplinary measures being taken, or even a request to restructure the seminary to allow for a serene discernment, Rome asked that ordinations be suspended, “pending the outcome of these discussions.” A decision that is welcomed “with pain and confidence” but which will certainly raise doubts, perhaps unfairly, about the dynamic pastoral work in Toulon.