Cardinal Marc Ouellet CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet retires

By  Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service
  • January 30, 2023

VATICAN CITY -- Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the highest ranking prefects in the Vatican, is officially retiring.

The Vatican announced on Jan. 30 the retirement of Ouellet, 78, at the same time appointing U.S.-born bishop Robert F. Prevost of Chiclayo, Peru, whom Pope Francis named an archbishop, to succeed Ouellet as prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. 

Ouellet has headed the two organizations since 2010. He had submitted his resignation from his curial positions as is required upon reaching the age of 75 in June 2019, but Pope Francis did not accept it.

Reacting to the public news of Ouellet's departure, Cardinal Thomas Collins bid his long-time Canadian ecclesial colleague a fond farewell.

"We give thanks for the many years of faithful service Cardinal Ouellet has given to the Church. May he be blessed with good health in his retirement,” Cardinal Collins said in a statement to The Catholic Register.

In recent months, Ouellet has been accused of sexual misconduct by two women when he was archbishop of Quebec from 2003 to 2010. Ouellet has denied both allegations and sued one of the accusers for defamation in December 2022, seeking $100,000 in damages.

Ouellet is adamant he is being falsely accused and says he has fully cooperated with the investigations into the complaints. 

“I have nothing to hide and have acted in complete transparency in the context of this process,” a statement released by his Quebec lawyers said. 

Ouellet was born in La Motte, Que., and ordained to the priesthood in 1968. He was appointed Archbishop of Quebec by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and made a cardinal the following year. Pope Benedict XVI named his prefect for the Dicastery for Bishops and Pontifical Commission for Latin America in 2010.

He holds several degrees, including a doctorate from Pontifical Gregorian University.

Prevoit, who is 67, holds degrees from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. An Augustinian friar, he joined the Augustinian mission in Peru in 1985 and largely worked in the country until in 1999 when he was elected head of the Augustinians Chicago-based province. From 2001 to 2013, he served as prior general of the worldwide order. In 2014, Pope Francis named him bishop of Chiclayo, in northern Peru.

As prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, Prevost will lead the Vatican body responsible for recommending to the Pope candidates to fill the office of bishop in many of the Latin-rite dioceses of the world. Recommendations made by the dicastery are typically approved by the pope. Archbishop Prevost has been a member of the dicastery since November 2020.

He will also oversee the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, established in 1958 by Pope Pius XII to study the church in Latin America, where nearly 40 per cent of the world's Catholics reside.

Prevost speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and can read Latin and German.

Last modified on January 31, 2023

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