Marc Ouellet

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His Eminence
Marc Ouellet
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
File:Orden Vasco Nuñez Card Ouellet.jpg
Appointed 30 June 2010
Predecessor Giovanni Battista Re
Other posts
Ordination 25 May 1968
by Gaston Hains
Consecration 19 March 2001
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal Priest
Personal details
Birth name Marc Armund Ouellet
Born (1944-06-08) 8 June 1944 (age 74)
La Motte, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Pierre Ouellet and Graziella Michaud
Previous post
Motto Ut unum sint (That they may be one)
John 17:21
Coat of arms Marc Ouellet's coat of arms
Styles of
Marc Ouellet
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Marc Armand Ouellet,[lower-alpha 1] P.S.S. (born 8 June 1944), is a conservative Canadian Cardinal of the Catholic Church.[2] He is the influential present prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and concurrently president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 30 June 2010. Previously, he was Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II, on 21 October 2003. Ouellet was considered a contender to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned on 28 February 2013.[3]

Ouellet is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German. He is known for his missionary work in South America.[4]

Early life

Ouellet was born in 8 June 1944 into a Catholic family of eight children in La Motte, Quebec. His father, Pierre, was a farmer who was self-taught, and later director-general of the area's school board. Young Ouellet attended mass at Église Saint-Luc (now a community centre) regularly with his family. In retrospect, Ouellet has described his family as religious but not very devout. His childhood interests included reading, ice hockey, hunting partridge, and fishing. One of his summer jobs was fighting forest fires. While recovering from a hockey injury at age 17, he read Thérèse of Lisieux and started a more focused search for meaning. Pierre was reluctant about the idea of his son entering the priesthood, but it was while still a teenager that Marc told him he had made a firm decision. He was ordained in 1968 at Eglise Saint-Luc. He became vicar at the Saint-Sauveur church in nearby Val-d'Or. In 1970 he left for South America to teach in a seminary.[5]

Professor and theologian

Ouellet spent most of his priestly career as a professor and a rector in seminaries. He is an alumnus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum in Rome where he earned a license in philosophy in 1976. He also earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1982).


Ouellet was named titular archbishop of Agropoli and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 3 March 2001. Pope John Paul II consecrated him as an archbishop, with Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Giovanni Battista Re as co-consecrators, on 19 March of the same year in St. Peter's Basilica.


On 15 November 2002 he became archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada.


Marc Ouellet with David Lloyd Johnston, and Jason Kenney the night before the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis

He was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Traspontina by John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003.

He was a cardinal elector in the 2005 papal conclave, and numerous observers believed that Ouellet was papabile himself. A report said that Ouellet had supported Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Ouellet remains eligible to vote in future papal conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on 8 June 2024. He voted in the 2013 conclave, which elected Benedict XVI's successor, Pope Francis.

The 2008 International Eucharistic Congress took place in Québec City, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City. Cardinal Ouellet was elected the recorder, or relator-general, of the 12th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in early October 2008.

In June 2011 Cardinal Ouellet addressed speculation about his odds in a potential conclave, saying that, for him, being Pope "would be a nightmare". Ouellet said that while "you can't keep the world from dreaming things up," seeing Pope Benedict's workload at close range makes the prospect of the papacy "not very enviable". He added: "It is a crushing responsibility. It's the kind of thing you don't campaign for."[6]

Speaking after the conclave that selected Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, Cardinal Ouellet is quoted by media suggesting his name appeared in balloting results more than once.[7][8]

Roman Curia

He is the present prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since his appointment to both positions by Pope Benedict XVI on 30 June 2010. He succeeded Giovanni Battista Re, who had reached the age limit.[9]

He is also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[10] These memberships are for five years and are renewable. Being resident in Rome, he is invited to attend not only the plenary meetings of those departments, which in principle are held every year, but also the ordinary meetings. He takes part in the (generally annual) meetings of these bodies, held in Rome. He is also a member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See. On 5 January 2011 he was appointed among the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.[11] On 29 January 2011, Cardinal Ouellet was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a member of Secretariat of State (second section)[12] On 6 April 2011, Cardinal Ouellet was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts by Pope Benedict. On 7 March 2012 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[13]

On February 19, 2014 he was confirmed as member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches by Pope Francis until the expiration of his current five year term.



Ouellet is associated with Communio, a journal of theology established by Catholics after the Second Vatican Council, and with Hans Urs von Balthasar, a renowned twentieth-century Swiss theologian.

Christian roots of Europe

In February 2011 Cardinal Ouellet said that the relativisation of the Bible, which denies the value of the Word of God, constitutes a genuine crisis that is both external and internal to the Church. He said "In the last decades, a profound crisis is shaking the foundations of European culture. A new raison d'etat imposes its law and tries to relegate the Christian roots of Europe to a secondary plane. It would seem that, in the name of secularism, the Bible must be relativised, to be dissolved in a religious pluralism and disappear as a normative cultural reference."[14]

Interpretations of the Second Vatican Council

Ouellet believes that many Catholics interpreted the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in far too liberal a way and by doing so disconnected from the core of their faith. Relativism led to priests abandoning celibacy, a drop in proper religious education, and a general infusion of leftist politics – all of which was not the intention of the council. Ouellet stated: “After the council, the sense of mission was replaced by the idea of dialogue. That we should dialogue with other faiths and not attempt to bring them the Gospels, to convert. Since then, relativism has been developing more broadly.”[15]

Pastoral approach

A report by the National Catholic Reporter anticipating the 2005 papal election placed Ouellet among twenty papal possibilities. "[P]eople who have worked with Ouellet," said the report, "describe him as friendly, humble and flexible, and a man not so captive to his own intellectual system as to make him incapable of listening to others."[16]

Catholic education

Ouellet was sharply critical of the Ethics and religious culture course of the Quebec education ministry, saying that it relativized the role of faith within the realm of religion and culture.[17]

Church persecutions

Ouellet has stated the Catholic Church is persecuted in contemporary secular Quebec for telling the truth.[18]

Public apology

In a letter published in Quebec French-language newspapers on 21 November 2007, Cardinal Ouellet publicly apologized for what he described as past "errors" of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec. Among the errors he wrote about were attitudes, prior to 1960, which promoted "anti-Semitism, racism, indifference to First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals."[19][20][21][22]

One of Ouellet's predecessors, Jean-Marie-Rodrigue Villeneuve, who served as Archbishop of Quebec from 1931 to 1947, was opposed to freedom of the press,[23] of thought, and of religion, and believed that granting women the right to vote would have ruinous effects on family unity and paternal authority.[24] Villeneuve also viewed wearing shorts as an offense to Christian decency.[25]

Ouellet stated that his letter was written in response to the public reaction to the statement he submitted to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, and that it was inspired by a similar letter issued in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.[26]


At a pro-life rally in 2010, Ouellet said that women who had become pregnant from rape should be denied abortions, saying "There's already a victim. Should we be making another one?"[27]

In May 2010 Ouellet stood by his comments that abortion is unjustifiable, even in the case of rape, and urged the federal government to help pregnant women keep their child. He said that "Governments are funding clinics for abortion. I would like equity for organizations that are defending also life. If we have equity in funding those instances to help women I think we would make lots of progress in Canada".[28]

Having earlier applauded prime minister Stephen Harper's government for its stance against funding abortions in the developing world, he added: "If they do not want to fund abortion abroad and they do not bring at home more help to women to keep their child, I think they are incoherent".[29]


Ouellet testified before the Senate of Canada, urging Senators to vote against legalising same-sex marriage, referring to it as a "pseudo-marriage, a fiction."[27]

Bishop selection methodology

As prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Ouellet plays a primary role in the selection of new archbishops and bishops around the world. Bishops appointed during his term have generally been seen as theologians and defenders of the faith. Bishops appointed during his term include: Angelo Scola, Charles J. Chaput, Luis Antonio Tagle, and Charles Morerod.

Ouellet states: “Today, especially in the context of our secularized societies, we need bishops who are the first evangelizers, and not mere administrators of dioceses, who are capable of proclaiming the Gospel, who are not only theologically faithful to the magisterium and the pope but are also capable of expounding and, if need be, of defending the faith publicly.” He also cautioned that if a priest or a bishop aspires and maneuvers to be promoted to a prominent diocese, “it is better for him to stay where he is.”[30]


  1. His baptismal name is sometimes given as Joseph Armand Marc.[1]


  1. "OUELLET, P.S.S., Marc". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 30 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Marc Ouellet reportedly helped broker Cardinal Keith O'Brien's exit". National Post. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Thompson, Nick (8 March 2013). "Gambling with God: Staking a wager on the next pope". CNN. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. National Catholic Reporter: "Three Possible Popes" by John L Allen, 4 May 2011
  5. Peritz, Ingrid (16 February 2013). "In Rome, bright hopes. Back home, dimmed faith", The Globe and Mail, pp. F1, F4.
  6. Martin, Stéphanie (30 June 2011). "Devenir pape "serait un cauchemar", dit Marc Ouellet". Le Soleil. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Cardinal Ouellet relieved not to be pope". The Canadian Press. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Paquin, Mali Ilse (15 March 2013). "Marc Ouellet se réjouit de l'élection de François". La Presse. Retrieved 16 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Rinunce E Nomine". Press Office of the Holy See. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede Nomina Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede". 16 October 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Di Membri Del Pontificio Consiglio Per La Promozione Della Nuova Evangelizzazione". Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Nomina Di Membri Del Consiglio Di Cardinali E Vescovi Della Sezione Per I Rapporti Con Gli Stati Della Segreteria Di Stato". 29 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Rinunce E Nomine". 7 March 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Cardinal Ouellet Warns Against Bible Crisis". Zenit. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. National Post: "Canadian cardinal to set tone for Church" 19 August 2010
  16. Allen Jr., John L. (2005). "Who Will Be the Next Pope?". National Catholic Reporter.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Québec : Boycott du cours obligatoire d'éthique et de culture religieuse". ZENIT. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Québec : "L'Eglise est persécutée parce qu'elle dit la vérité reçue de Dieu"". 13 April 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Lettre ouverte du Cardinal Marc Ouellet – À la recherche de la fierté québécoise (PDF) – text of the letter in French
  20. Cardinal Ouellet's issues mea culpa to Quebec – English translation of the letter
  21. "Quebecers reluctantly accept archbishop's apology". CBC News. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Surprised by reactions, cardinal insists apology was an 'act of peace'". CBC News. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. TIME Magazine. "Entitled to Pronounce" 4 April 1938
  24. TIME Magazine. "It Is the End" 27 January 1947
  25. TIME Magazine. People 9 July 1945
  26. John-Henry Westen, Reading Quebec Cardinal's Apology to Homosexuals and Women in Context,, 21 November 2007
  27. 27.0 27.1 Woods, Allan (15 February 2013). "Marc Ouellet: Canadian pope prospect who says top job would be a 'nightmare'". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Correction to May 26 story on abortion". St. Albert Gazette. The Canadian Press. 31 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Quebec archbishop defends comments on abortion". CTV News. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Catholic San Francisco: "Theologians, defenders of faith, prominent among recently named bishops worldwide" 17 January 2012

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Maurice Couture
Primate of Canada
Archbishop of Quebec

15 November 2002 – 30 June 2010
Succeeded by
Gérald Lacroix
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America

30 June 2010 – present