His appointment takes place in the wake of the Spring Assembly of the Episcopate. Auxiliary Bishop of Metz (Moselle) since January 8, 2019, Mgr Jean-Pierre Vuillemin, appointed Monday April 3 Bishop of Le Mans (Sarthe) by Pope Francis, will therefore be able to implement in his new diocese the proposals of the working groups born after the Ciase to combat abuses within the Church that the bishops adopted last week. “Decisions have been made, other decisions will have to be prepared locally,” he notes. We have received very direct and urgent questions. It will be important for me to involve the priests of my diocese in local decisions. »
A native of the Vosges, the new bishop is preparing to head west to get to know his new diocese, during meetings scheduled for Easter week. “I hadn’t had the opportunity to discover the Sarthe until then,” admits Bishop Vuillemin. However, he was able to take advantage of his stay in Lourdes last week, on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of Bishops, to discuss at length with Bishop Yves Le Saux, his predecessor, now Bishop of Annecy (Haute-Savoie), as well as with Father Grégoire Cador, former vicar general of Le Mans and diocesan administrator during the vacancy of the episcopal see. “I am discovering a diocese which has led a whole reflection around the Christian presence in today’s world, with the diocesan synod of 2019, and which shows a certain dynamism”, he underlines.
Ordained priest in 1994, Jean-Pierre Vuillemin, doctor in canon and civil law, was, in addition to parish priest, official of the interdiocesan officiality of Dijon, Nancy, Saint-Dié and Verdun, then vice-official of the metropolitan officiality of Besançon, before being appointed auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Metz in 2019.
“This judicial activity taught me the importance of the search for truth, and the need to surround yourself with the necessary skills for this”, explains the man who is now part of the canonical council of the Conference of Bishops. of France (CEF).
In Metz, Bishop Vuillemin was appointed alongside Bishop Jean-Christophe Lagleize. Then, when he left office for health reasons in 2021, he assumed the function of apostolic administrator, until the appointment of Bishop Philippe Ballot a year later. “I learned a lot during those four years,” he says. It is a privilege to be able to begin the episcopal ministry alongside a senior bishop. When the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase) came out, in October 2021, he was an apostolic administrator. As such, he issued an appeal in the media, asking victims of priests to please come forward. “About fifteen came forward, sometimes for very old facts,” he recalls. Mgr Jean-Pierre Vuillemin will be installed in the cathedral of Le Mans on Sunday May 21 at 3 p.m.