Vatican City

Pope Francis has named Archbishop Laurent Ulrich to be the new head of the Roman Catholic Church in Paris, five months after the previous archbishop resigned over reports of a relationship with a woman. 

Laurent, 70, has been archbishop of the French city of Lille since 2008. The Vatican announced his appointment on Tuesday.

Vatican Pope Francis 25 Apr 2022

Pope Francis meets with members of the Sri Lankan community living in Italy, in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on 25th April. PICTURE: Reuters/Remo Casilli.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit resigned in December. At the time, he denied any intimate relationship with the unnamed woman, though he acknowledged his behaviour may have been ambiguous.

Several days after accepting Aupetit's resignation, Francis told reporters he had done so not because the archbishop had sinned but because the gossip about him had left him in a position where he could no longer govern the large archdiocese.

The Catholic Church in France is still reeling from a report last October that showed that clerics sexually abused more than 200,000 children in France over the past 70 years. 

Meanwhile, the Pope abruptly cancelled his activities for the day on Tuesday because of a flare up in knee pain, the Vatican said.

A statement said his doctors ordered him to rest and that he would not participate in a meeting of an international council of cardinals which advises him on Church matters.

Francis would normally be seated during such a meeting, indicating that the latest flare-up was likely particularly serious.

The 85-year-old Pope has had to curtail events in recent weeks because of the pain in his right knee.

Several times over the Easter period, he attended but did not preside at Masses in St Peter's Basilica. In each case, he delegated an archbishop or cardinal to say the Mass while he sat through the service and also read his homily while seated.

He suspended activities last Friday for medical checks in the Vatican but resumed them over the weekend. On Monday he held six private audiences.

He is scheduled to hold his weekly general audience for the public on Wednesday.