Ouellet called to Rome to take over Congregation for Bishops

  • June 30, 2010
Cardinal Marc OuelletQUEBEC CITY - With both gratitude and fear Cardinal Marc Ouellet has accepted a prestigious appointment from Pope Benedict XVI to become the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Commission for Latin America.

"Gratitude because it is a mark of great confidence from the Holy Father, obviously, and I am very grateful to him. And fear because it's a difficult responsibility and it's a huge responsibility," Ouellet said during a press conference June 30.

Ouellet will replace Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, whose resignation was accepted following his 75th birthday. The position is regarded as one of the most important jobs in the Vatican and, as one Vatican watcher put it, can be seen as a huge vote of confidence in Ouellet by the Pope. The Congregation for Bishops oversees selection of diocesan bishops worldwide. Ouellet is the first North American cardinal to head up this powerful congregation.

The appointment, which had been rumoured for the past few weeks, was announced in the Vatican on June 29. Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City and primate of Canada, will remain the apostolic administrator of Quebec City until he takes possession of his new ecclesiastical office in Rome in September.

"I am glad to serve the Holy Father in this capacity and in order to become more competent in the service of the bishops rely on the prayers of the faithful," Ouellet said, adding that this is a difficult time for Christianity. "It is not a bad time but it is a difficult time. It is a time of crisis and so it is a time of decision. And decision in favour of the Gospel, in favour of Christ."

Congratulations have started flowing in from across Canada.

"Your appointment... is a tremendous honour not only for you but also for the Church in Canada," said Bishop Pierre Morissette, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins said the appointment "is a recognition by the Holy Father of (the cardinal's) exceptional qualities as a true spiritual shepherd, whom he has now entrusted with stewardship of the vitally important process through which the bishops of the Church are chosen. As archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Ouellet has provided Canadian Catholics, and the wider community as well, with a courageous and inspiring example of true Gospel leadership, and now he is being called beyond our country to serve the universal Church."

Ouellet had some experience at the Vatican prior to his assuming his leadership role in Quebec, and maintains an active role at the Vatican to this day. In March of 2001 he was appointed Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, only to be appointed archbishop of Quebec a year later. He took possession of his See in January 2003. In addition, Ouellet has been consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Clergy. He is a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Clergy.

Ouellet is also a member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Academy of Theology. And he is a member of the Council of Cardinals for the study of the organizational and economic problems of the Holy See, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Post-synodal Council.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as General Relator of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2008.

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