Strasbourg Archbishop Luc Ravel speaks during a press conference on November 22, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Strasbourg, France: Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Archbishop of Strasbourg Luc Ravel, who stepped down last month following complaints about his management, the Bishops' Conference of France said on Saturday.

The diocese of the eastern French city is unusual in the Catholic Church, as under a treaty known as the Concordat dating back to Napoleon I, the French government officially appoints an archbishop chosen by the Vatican.

"The Holy Father and the President of the Republic (Emmanuel Macron) have jointly accepted the resignation" of Luc Ravel, the Bishops' Conference of France said in a statement.

The pope has appointed Philippe Ballot, the archbishop of nearby Metz, as administrator, "awaiting the appointment of the next archbishop of Strasbourg," the statement added.

Last year the Vatican ordered an inspection of the Strasbourg diocese, which represents around 1.3 million Catholics, following criticism of how it was being run.

In a statement sent to AFP on April 20, Ravel said he had "presented my resignation to the Holy Father," without giving further details.

Catholics in the region had told AFP that Ravel's top-down style had alienated many parishioners and other Church officials.

Ravel was especially resented for removing women and laypeople from different councils in his diocese as well as installing traditionalist priests with opinions counter to their congregations, Marcel Metzger, a theologian and professor at the University of Strasbourg, told AFP last month.

Ravel has defended his time running the Strasbourg diocese, where he arrived in 2017, particularly relating to his handling of cases linked to sexual abuse in the Church.

After not speaking public for several months, Ravel broke his silence earlier this week in an interview with the Catholic magazine La Vie.

He again pointed to his action on sexual abuse allegations, while admitting to having "been overwhelmed by all these cases" which took up "an infinite amount of time".

Faced with the "pain and mystery of evil" from handling the cases, Ravel said he "should have sought more personal support, including psychological help".

The French church is reeling from a string of sexual abuse scandals, as well as the findings of a 2021 inquiry that suggested 216,000 minors had been abused by clergy since the 1950s.