PARIS — Retired Bishop Gery Leuliet, the oldest Catholic bishop in the world, passed away New Year’s Day at the age of 104 in his home country of France.
Bishop Leuliet, who retired from the French Diocese of Amiens, died at the John XXIII Home in northern France, where he had been living for several years. He had been a priest for nearly 81 years.
Born on Jan. 12, 1910, in the city of Richebourg l’Avoue, he studied at St. Bertin’s School and at the seminary of the Diocese of Arras. He was ordained on July 8, 1933, at the age of 23.
Father Leuliet was named bishop of Amiens by Pope St. John XXIII and was ordained a bishop on May 9, 1963.
He took part in the second session of the Second Vatican Council and worked to implement the Council in the Diocese of Amiens. He was president of the French bishops’ Committee on Rural Life from 1965 to 1971.
Around that time — according to the French Bishops’ Conference — he wrote, “Despite the difficulties, miseries, anxieties and fears, the presence of the Lord is encouraging and dynamic; but, above all, it is a ‘small hope,’ as the man who called himself a ‘parish Christian’ would say at the beginning of this century, [French theologian] Charles Peguy.”
Bishop Leuliet retired in 1985 at the age of 75. He was buried on Jan. 7 at the Cathedral of Amiens.
The title of oldest living bishop is now held by retired Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety of Newark, N.J., who is 102.