Pope Francis would consider making a surprise appointment to replace Marc Ouellet at the head of the Congregation of Bishops, according to Catholic media.
As is customary, when he had just turned 75 in the summer of 2019, His Eminence Marc Ouellet presented his resignation as Prefect of the Congregation to Pope Francis who refused it.
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“It is a normal case, they are often extended for a couple of years,” says Gilles Routhier, professor of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences at Laval University.
The function of Prefect of the Congregation is a prestigious title. Mr. Routhier believes that only one other Quebecer, by extension Canadian, had as much influence with the Pope.
“I think that Cardinal Maurice Roy was able to play an even more important role in the years 1965-1980. He was responsible for the Justice and Peace Commission, the Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. He certainly had great confidence on the part of Paul VI, ”he said.
Candidate for the papacy
Not only did Cardinal Ouellet achieve an important post in the Vatican, but his name was mentioned as a serious candidate for the succession of Benedict XVI in 2013.
“He is not the first Canadian to receive votes. Cardinal Roy had also received some. The conclaves [l’assemblée à huis clos durant laquelle les cardinaux élisent le pape] are much more publicized now. When a name circulates, it is in the media, not among the cardinal-electors. But for the cardinals of a certain tendency, he was a very good candidate, in the continuity of Benedict XVI ”, specifies Mr. Routhier.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet was appointed Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops as well as President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on June 30, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.
The role of the Congregation is in particular to recommend to the pope candidates for the post of bishop – there are more than 5,000 in the world – on the basis of the suggestions of the apostolic nuncio. The latter is the representative of the Pope in a country.
This congregation is often given great importance, since it somehow proposes the new generation of Church leaders and those who could possibly choose the next pope.
For Mr. Routhier, it is difficult to determine how influential Cardinal Ouellet was.
“To find out, we would have to look at all the appointments and see if there is a trend. We must then see the actual role he played in the appointments. Did the Pope follow his recommendations? We do not know in detail. But certainly Francis described the type of bishops he wanted. This was heard by Cardinal Ouellet, but also by the apostolic nuncios who put together the files at the national level and send them to the Congregation. ”
On many social issues, the thought of Cardinal Ouellet is generally described as being closer to that of the one who appointed him, Benedict XVI, than to the current Pope, Francis, who nevertheless confirmed him in his functions.
“François did not sweep when he took office. He says it, he likes the confrontation of ideas. Cardinal Ouellet, unlike other cardinals, was also a good player. Even if he does not necessarily share the views, he tried to be a good soldier, and did not lead a rebellion against the Pope, ”analyzes the professor from Laval University.
Mr. Routhier does not advance to know if another Quebecer or Canadian could soon follow in the footsteps of Cardinal Ouellet.
“Prophecies are difficult. It depends on the pope who will be there, on the balance we are trying to strike between the different countries, not only on the quality of the person. If there are already large numbers of North Americans, the next one will have to wait. ”
The Cardinal of Chicago
And precisely, the one that the website Catholic News Agency sees succeed Marc Ouellet is the cardinal of Chicago Blase Cupich. He met Pope Francis on January 30 in Rome. His views would be close to those of the Pope.
The two men also criticized the president of the bishops of the United States, José Gomez, for his statements against Joe Biden during his inauguration in January. Biden, however, is the only Catholic, along with John F. Kennedy, to have ascended to the presidency of the United States.
“Cupich is definitely a good candidate. He was appointed by Pope Francis in Chicago, a very important seat. The US episcopate is in a difficult situation and has been divided for 10 or 15 years. He turned to the right and became counter-cultural, ”concludes Mr. Routhier.
Cardinal Ouellet’s journey
- 76 years old
- Speaks 7 languages (English, Latin, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese in addition to French)
- Has worked for many years in Colombia
1944 | Born June 8 in Lamotte, Abitibi
1968 | Ordained priest
1974 | Obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Rome
1982 | Obtained a doctorate in theology in Germany
2001 | Appointed bishop
2002 | Appointed Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada
2003 | Appointed cardinal
2010 | Appointed Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, he moved to Rome
2019 | His resignation as prefect of the Congregation is refused