The pope on Monday said that “sins of the flesh are not the most serious” when asked to comment on the recent resignation of the archbishop of Paris.
Pope Francis condemned the “injustice” of the resignation of Michel Aupetit, following media reports of an intimate relationship with a woman, which he had categorically denied.
A diocese spokeswoman said at the time that “he had ambiguous behavior with a person he was very close to,” adding that it was “not a loving relationship,” nor sexual.
“When the gossip grows, grows, grows and takes away the reputation of a person, that man will not be able to govern… and that is an injustice,” Francis said.
“This is why I accepted Aupetit’s resignation, not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy.
“I ask myself, what did Aupetit do that was so serious he had to resign? If we don’t know the accusation, we cannot condemn,” the pope added, urging journalists to investigate.
He said Aupetit had been condemned by “public opinion, rumors. But what did he do? We know nothing.”
However, the pope referenced a breach of the sixth commandment — a ban on adultery — saying it was “not total, but little caresses and massages he gave to his secretary.”
“That is a sin. But it is not the most serious because sins of the flesh are not the most serious,” he said.
He added: “Aupetit is a sinner. As I am, as was Peter, the bishop on whom Christ founded his Church.”
In a statement last week, when the pope accepted his offer, Aupetit said he wanted to “protect the diocese from the division that always provokes suspicion and the loss of confidence.”