Congregation Of Father David Gréa In Tears As The Popular Catholic Priest Confesses He Has Fallen In Love And Wants To Marry

‘I am your father,’ says the caption on the tweet about Father David Gréa posted by the Lyon Catholic church centre on Twitter. It echoes Darth Vader’s comment to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.

Now Gréa, who with his youthful good looks and approachable demeanour, has become something of a poster boy for the French Catholic Church, is leaving his post as priest of Saint Blandine in Lyon in order to marry. He had been at the church for six years.

Gréa has been discharged from his priestly functions by Cardinal Barbarin and a dispensation from his vow of celibacy will now be sought from the Vatican.

Some parishioners wept as the Lyon diocese’s Vicar General Patrick Rollin read a letter from the 40-year-old priest at mass on Sunday, outlining his reasons for going – that he has met a woman and wants to get married.

The Lyon diocese said that the priest had left the parish for a time of ‘discernment and retreat’.

Cardinal Barbarin himself is to attend the church and take services at the start of March and a new priest will be appointed soon.

‘The diocese wants this beautiful community to pursue its journey according to its charism and its vocation. Cardinal Barbarin invites everyone to pray for Father David and for the parishioners of Sainte Blandine,’ the diocese said.

Gréa is one of the priests behind the ‘new look’ Masses with the praise team Glorious that are criticised by some conservatives for not being traditional enough.

Gréa’s thesis at seminary was on the theology on Cardinal Newman, the High Church Anglican who converted to Catholicism.

In his resignation letter, published by his church, he wrote: ‘For nearly six years now, I have lived with you. Together, we patiently sought to live and proclaim faith according to what God expected of us, for this place and for this time. We have praised God at the heart of our church, seeking to adopt an accessible and relevant language to transform our hearts and our weeks.

‘Thus, we have allowed many people to return to the Church and be well, to hear the Gospel freshly and to be renewed. We have developed a lively praise, Alpha tracks and many initiatives, especially a beautiful welcome and wonderful fraternal ties. I have lived with you my finest years of ministry and I thank God for all these beautiful moments, at the same time that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.’

He said he had been happy as a priest and was convinced he was called by God ‘for this beautiful ministry’.

But some time ago, he began building a relationship with a woman he believes God is calling him to live with.

‘I discover an unexpected joy that seems to me in the continuity of what I have lived until then, by giving my body and soul to your service.

‘I wished to be in truth with the Church by speaking of both my joy of being a priest and my desire to marry.

‘So I told the cardinal and we talked about the idea of ​​a dialogue with the Pope. This one-on-one meeting could take place. He listened to me with kindness and honoured my approach to integrity. Then the Pope and Bishop Barbarin exchanged and our bishop asked me to take a moment of discernment and retreat.

‘It’s a sadness for me not to be able to finish the year with you and I imagine you are sharing it. I would have liked to speak to you today orally, as I did every Sunday.

‘I am witness to your love for God and I know that you are seeking to put Jesus at the centre of your life. I have seen our community grow in numbers, but above all in faith, change our attitude and become involved in prayer and service. I have seen Christians become truly adult in the faith. That is why I want to express my admiration and gratitude, especially for the faithful engagement of many of you.

‘I thank God for the work he has been doing for many years with Saint Blandine. I trust that God will accompany the team leading the church, and Father Arnaud, a friend who is dear to me, and who has agreed with his superior to be more available until the summer.

‘I pray for our church, remembering these words that we hear at every Mass: “Truly it is right and good to give you glory, to offer you our thanksgiving, always and everywhere.”‘

Conservative commentator Chris Gillibrand told Christian Today: ‘In the attempt to imitate modern culture, the
Church is eventually dissolved in it. The Church is there to save souls, not to make people feel good. Christ was counter-cultural. Christians continue his mission when they are as well.’

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