Revival of progressive Catholic parish community underway

Saint-Merry Outside the Walls

Saint-Merry-Outside-the-Walls, a Catholic community in central Paris known for its progressive stance and influenced by the post-Vatican II era, is poised to make a comeback under the leadership of the current Archbishop of Paris.

Following its closure by the former archbishop over two years ago due to co-management issues, the community released a statement on June 12, expressing their gratitude for Archbishop Laurent Ulrich’s decision to revive the group and find a permanent location for them.

In May of last year, Saint-Merry’s pastoral team discussed the community’s future with Archbishop Ulrich and his vicar general, Msgr Emmanuel Tois. Subsequently, Tois met with all community members in mid-June and unveiled three significant developments.

Firstly, the archbishop assigned a ‘priest companion’ to the community.

Secondly, a new ‘mission statement’ will be crafted to redefine the pastoral vision entrusted to Saint-Merry by the late Cardinal François Marty, who founded the community in 1975. The cardinal’s vision urged Saint-Merry to seek alternative ways of practising their faith in society and to reach out to those who feel alienated or hurt by the institution of the Church.

Thirdly, Archbishop Ulrich has committed to finding a suitable location to embody this mission, effectively granting the community a fresh start.

Developments embraced by former members

Former pastoral centre members have warmly embraced these developments.

Guy Aurenche, the community’s spokesperson, expressed their satisfaction, stating that the news was received “with great relief and without blame, but with a sense that our concerns were taken seriously at the diocesan level.”

Although specific details regarding the appointed priest and the future location are still unknown, Aurenche welcomed Archbishop Ulrich’s invitation to allow the community to continue playing a creative role, even if it may be modest, by introducing the new mission statement.

According to a press release from Saint-Merry, Msgr Tois stated on June 12 that this process is expected to yield results by the end of 2023.

The press release emphasised that the renewed dialogue and rebuilt trust have instilled hope for renewal within the community, which remains committed to proclaiming the Gospel and working in harmony with the Church of Paris.

The statement further conveyed that, in a time when the Church must be receptive to various forms of presence and expressing its mission, Saint-Merry- Outside-the-Walls, with its rich history and current relevance at the intersection of societal expectations and the Gospel message, desires to participate in this process wholeheartedly.


La Croix International

CathNews New Zealand

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