Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet speaks to reporters at the Vatican Feb. 20, 2023. The cardinal, retired prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery of Bishops, delivered the keynote address at a May 16 symposium on the theology of the priesthood at The Catholic University of America in Washington. CNS photo/Justin McLellan

Cardinal Ouellet address examines theology of the priesthood

By  Kate Scanlon, OSV News
  • May 18, 2023

WASHINGTON -- The Church needs to find ways to move beyond infighting and drama from the synod on synodality, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, as he called for a reduction in the "conflicts and power struggles that occupy so much space."

"In short, despite the dramas and priestly failures of our times, for which we do not evade responsibility," he said, the Holy Spirit can still guide the way to "a suitable Church."

The Canadian cardinal, who retired in April as prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery of Bishops, was speaking at a May 16 event he organized at The Catholic University of American in Washington. The event was hosted by the school’s Institute for Human Ecology along with the Center for Research and Anthropology of Vocations in France, the Thomistic Institute and Theological College.

Ouellet launched an international movement to revitalize the collaboration between ordained priests and the priesthood of the faithful in February 2022 with a symposium in Rome.

Throughout the event at Catholic University, speakers and participants returned to results of a survey conducted by The Catholic Project, discussing the tensions it found between priests and bishops. That 2022 survey found a deep crisis in priests' confidence in the leadership of the U.S. bishops. Just 24 per cent of priests across America expressed confidence in the "leadership and decision-making" of the bishops, according to that survey, which was based on 3,516 responses from 10,000 diocesan and religious priests.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told OSV News "the ability to speak with charity and love" is a key part of mending that relationship.

"I think we should do that to each other, both bishops to priests, but also priests to their bishops," he said. "And perhaps to try and escape some of this concern about how you know how the truth might be interpreted, but to to be somewhat open."

The archbishop added "the ability of religious to speak frankly to their superiors" might be "something that we can and should learn."

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