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(LifeSiteNews) — Last year the Holy See ordered a diocese in France not to ordain a group of seminarians to the sacred priesthood and the diaconate. The diocese, Toulon-Fréjus, in southern France, is a rare diocese in the country, with a flourishing seminary and a good number of vocations to the priesthood.

Joining me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show is Bishop Dominique Rey of Toulon-Fréjus to discuss how he and the seminarians have been attempting to handle the order from Rome. 

Bp. Rey recalls that the order from Rome was a “very big surprise for us.” Currently, he tells me, there are over 10 seminarians who are awaiting an explanation as to why they could not receive ordination. Rey further notes, however, that in the seminary itself there is a feeling of peace and that the seminarians and formators “are very full of a strange sense of the presence of God” in spite of the difficult time.

One of the seminarians due for ordination to the priesthood, Thomas Duchesne, a native of Ontario, explains that in the weeks leading up to when he was supposed to be ordained, the superior of his community told him to start praying for the souls that would benefit from his ordination. When the order to suspend the ordinations came from Rome, he started offering up his sufferings for his “apostolate, for the sanctification of souls.”

“The [sufferings], I think, [are] also a kind of purification for us to be fully consecrated to Christ and to have a great desire, purified, to the priesthood,” he says.

When I ask Rey why the ordinations were suspended, he explains that he thinks Rome was telling him “the discernment of all [these] vocation[s] was … a problem,” alluding to the fact that he would have ordained men belonging to many religious communities and not just for his own diocese, including men from the charismatic movement and others from the traditionalist movement.

Rey also emphasizes that the documentation necessary for being presented for ordination was also in order. In the meantime, he and the seminarians have to remain faithful to Rome and navigate between resignation and rebellion, and that he is in discussion with the Holy See on how to proceed.

“I’ve sent many letters, I visited the rector of the seminary, I’ve been in Rome to discuss [the matter],” Rey recounts.

“It was a difficulty also for us, because in a context where the dialogue is very important in the Church, synodality, etc., we have no response to how Christians have sent many letters without any answer. And so the silence is very difficult to live. But [we] advance in the faith, and we advance in the hope, and we pray for the Church.”

Rey briefly mentions the support he has received from people, saying “for my part it’s a good, strong reality to be helped by many friends who pray for me, [who] pray for the seminary, [who] pray for vocations.”

He also explains what he sees as three pillars in his diocese: faithfulness to Vatican II, evangelization, and a “pastoral communion with different sensibilities, expression[s] of faith, different charism[s],” and that these three pillars are “fundamentally the essentials of my ministry.”

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.