France: A Feminist “Candidate for the Office of Archbishop of Lyon”

July 09, 2020

Holder of a master’s degree in law and a master’s degree in theology, 73-year-old journalist, theologian, and biblist Anne Soupa announced on May 25, 2020 that she would be a “candidate for the office of Archbishop of Lyon,” following the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

She explains her approach in her “application file”: “Noting that in 2020, in the Catholic Church, no woman heads any diocese, no woman is a priest, no woman is a deacon, no woman votes on the decisions of the synods; considering that to exclude half of humanity is not only contrary to the message of Jesus Christ, but is wrong to the Church, thus maintained in a self favorable to abuses..., everything allows me to say that I am capable of applying for the title of bishop, everything makes me legitimate. However, everything forbids me. If my candidacy is prohibited by canon law, it is simply because I am a woman, that women cannot be priests and that only priests, by becoming bishops, direct the Catholic Church.”

Co-founder of the Skirt Committee with Christine Pedotti (echoing the statement of Msgr. André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, in 2008 to French-speaking Christian Radio RCF: “it is not all about having a skirt, it is having something in your head”), Anne Soupa militates for the promotion of the equality of women and men within the Catholic Church. “A good part of my gesture is to say to Catholic women: ‘and why not me?’” she confided to the magazine Lyon Capitale on May 25. Recognizing that there is a “publicity coup,” that “it is not the done thing,” Anne Soupa wants above all “that it would be possible to imagine that a woman could become archbishop without it being a joke!”

Why apply specifically to Lyon? “Because in Lyon, four successive archbishops, Msgrs. (sic) Decourtray, Billé, Balland, Barbarin, have failed in their primary task, that of protecting their communities. The shepherds let the wolves enter the sheepfold and the predators attacked the young,” she said in her statement. In addition, “before seeing yet another bishop coming from the same mold, we must ask ourselves if there is not another way of governing when the power of what women are doing in the Church today is extraordinary,” she explains to the Lyon Capitale. And she added: “With a recruitment of 100 priests per year in France, this base is too weak for good governance.”

For Anne Soupa: “We can live as Christians without the sacraments, we saw it during confinement.”

Since a female candidacy is prohibited by canon law, “I think we can govern a diocese, ensure doctrinal rectitude, protect the little ones, which is the primary mission of the bishop, by being secular,” adds the feminist journalist. “And I can be a spiritual guide, without being directly affected by the question of the sacraments,” she said. And to propose a new Church on the march: “If one day a woman becomes Archbishop of Lyon, the priests will keep their sacramental mission. The sacraments are not the whole of Christian life. We can live as Christians without these sacraments, we saw this during confinement.”

“Why not a woman?,” asks Anne Soupa. Because, she replies, “if we remain on this base of 100 priests per year, we will not succeed… And today it is a question of survival for the Catholic Church. My candidacy also has something dramatic. It would be a shame not to open your eyes.”

But, in her eyes, another threat justifies her candidacy: “The recruitment is so narrow that the Church can no longer represent anyone. It is also because this recruitment is limited that this fundamentalist fraction (sic) within the Church is taking up more and more space.”

The Church, Bride of Jesus Christ

In his article The Church Announced in the Psalms, Fr. Patrick Troadec wrote a response to the errors professed by Anne Soupa, for whome the Church has become confused with an NGO lacking recruitment and the episcopate with a human resources department.

The former director of the Flavigny seminary wrote: “A detailed study of the Psalms allows us to recognize not only the figure of the Savior, but also that of the Church which He founded. This is a land, a vine, it is the true Jerusalem, or even more precisely the Bride of Jesus Christ. This Church is recognizable by the faith that she professes, by the sacraments she confers, by the authority which directs her; she is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. She is hierarchical with the Sovereign Pontiff at her head, whose mission is to profess the Catholic faith in its integrity, to defend it, to propagate it, and to make sure that the bishops and the priests communicate the grace to the appropriate people through the sacraments.”

“The teaching of the Church is such that it inevitably leads to opposition, the truth flushing out errors and lies, hence the persecutions that the Church has suffered throughout her history.

“In the light of this study, it is possible to better grasp the beautiful definition that Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty gave of the Church :“Christ is the invisible head of the Church; the pope is His visible representative in Rome. The Queen of the Church is the Virgin; her armies are the angels, her envoys the Apostles, her militia the saints. Her shepherds are bishops; her word, the voice of consecrated priests; her witnesses are martyrs; her strength, the confessors; her adornment, the virgins; her children, the believers; her cradle, baptism; her weapons, confirmation; her viaticum, the Blessed Sacrament. Her garden is marriage; her wealth, the merits of Jesus; her center is unity; her seal, the measure of the world; her ramparts, the commandments of the Church. Her joy is holiness; her abomination, sin; the earth is for her a place of exile; her destiny, the cross; her purpose, eternal life; her consolation, repentance; her joy, the presence of Jesus; her crowning glory, the end of time; her suffering, eternal fire; her triumph, Heaven” (The Mother, Mirror of God, Parthenon, Paris, 2017, pp. 280-281).