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Georges Pontier

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Georges Pontier
Archbishop of Marseille
DioceseArchdiocese of Marseille
Installed12 May 2006
Term ended8 August 2019
PredecessorBernard Panafieu
SuccessorJean-Marc Aveline
Ordination3 July 1966
Personal details
Born (1943-05-01) 1 May 1943 (age 81)
Alma materPontifical Gregorian University
University of Toulouse

Georges Pontier (born 1 May 1943) is a French prelate of the Catholic Church who was Archbishop of Marseille from 2006 to 2019 and President of the Episcopal Conference of France from 2013 to 2019. He was named apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Paris in December 2021.


Georges Pontier was born 1 May 1943 in Lavaur in the Tarn. After studying at the major seminary of Albi he completed his training at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he obtained a degree in theology, then a master's degree in Modern Literature at the University of Toulouse. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Albi on 3 July 1966. He taught at the minor seminary of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe and became its rector. He was curate and then archpriest of the Albi cathedral from 1985 to 1988.[1]

Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Digne on 2 February 1988 and he was consecrated on 20 March. John Paul made him Bishop of La Rochelle and Saintes on 5 August 1996.[1]

Pope Benedict XVI named him Archbishop of Marseille on 12 May 2006.[1]

Though orthodox in matters of theology, with respect to same-sex marriage and the ordination of women, for example, his rapprochement with Islam made him the "bête noire" of the political right. He was particularly engaged by the social situation of the Roma and the undocumented.[2] In 2010 he arranged for retired priests to vacate six apartments in a Church-owned apartment building in the Saint-Pierre district of Marseille to allow for six Roma families to be housed there, provoking resistance from locals and their political representatives.[3][4] And in 2017 he called on the French government to devise better solutions for the Roma who are being "shuffled from one place to another".[5]

In the Bishops Conference of France (CEF) he was vice president from 2001 to 2007, headed its Studies and Projects Committee from 2008 to 2013, and president from 2013 to 2019.[6] In October 2015, as president of the CEF, he attended the Synod of Bishops on the Family.[7]

He declined to endorse the "proclamation of freedom of expression" that Reporters Without Borders invited all religious leaders to sign following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015. In a letter to the bishops of France, he said the statement itself seemed to doubt the commitment of religious leaders to freedom of expression and singled them out when all leaders of civic society should share this commitment.[8][9]

Pope Francis accepted his resignation, submitted as required when Pontier turned 75, on 8 August 2019.[10] Auxiliary Bishop Jean-Marc Aveline was appointed to succeed him.[10]

On 11 January 2021, Pope Francis named him Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Avignon.[11]

On 2 December 2021, Pope Francis named him Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Paris after the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit.[12]

Related articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Rinunce e Nomine, 12.05.2006" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  2. ^ Sauvaget, Bernadette (17 April 2013). "Un souverain Pontier à la tête des évêques". Libération (in French).
  3. ^ "Marseille: Les Roms, poil à gratter des Chrétiens en politique" (in French). Chrétiens de la Méditerranée. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  4. ^ Le Bars, Stéphanie (18 April 2013). "Un évêque "social" étiqueté à gauche à la tête des catholiques français". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Pope welcomes a project to help the Roma "rediscover their Christian roots"". Aleteia. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Mgr Georges Pontier". Église Catholique en France (in French). Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  7. ^ "XIV Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi (4-25 ottobre 2015) - Elenco dei Partecipanti, 15.09.2015" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  8. ^ Senèze, Nicolas (4 February 2015). "Mgr Pontier refuse de soutenir l'initiative de Reporters sans frontières". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Reporters Without Borders' freedom of expression petition flops in France". France24. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Resignations and Appointments, 08.08.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  11. ^ Henning, Christophe (12 January 2021). "Pope appoints retired bishop to heal divided French diocese". La Croix International. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 02.12.2021" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 2 December 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.