Catholic Archbishop of Paris takes up post in the shadow of ruined Notre Dame

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On Monday, Laurent Ulrich, the Catholic archbishop of Paris, took up his responsibilities, saying he is looking forward to the re-opening of the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral, due to welcome back tourists and the faithful in 2024.

The re-opening of the central Paris cathedral is a wonderful perspective, according to the man who is responsible for the spitritual well-being of the French capital's Catholic community, and the republic's chief representative with the papal authorities in Rome.

Archbishop Ulrich celebrated Sunday prayers in the square in front of the vast building-site, saying the Paris Catholic community was fortunate to have the chance to revive the damaged church as a place of worship.

"It is a source of great joy," he told those attending vespers in the shadow of the great monument.

Theologian, philosopher, concerned for migrants

Laurent Ulrich is 70 years old, and was appointed by the pope in April. He replaces Michel Aupetit who resigned at the end of last year.

He is a theologian and a philosopher. During his previous appointment, as bishop of the northern city of Lille, Ulrich showed himself to be a strong supporter of the moderate line promoted by Pope Francis. He worked, notably, to help the many migranbts stalled in northern France as they wait for a chance to cross the English Channel.

After vespers on Sunday, the new archbishop entered the cathedral for a brief period of reflection.

This was followed by the celebration of the traditional mass of welcome, celebrated in the church of Saint-Sulpice, in the presence of 2,000 invitees.

The diocese of Paris, administered by the archbishop, is the largest in France, with 500 priests working in one hundred parishes.

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