Soon cardinals will join the most exclusive “club” in the world – the group responsible for electing the new Pope. However, cardinals who are over 80, will receive the nomination in recognition of the outstanding work carried out during the course of their long service, but having reached the age limit for electing cardinals, they will not take part in the conclave. One of the those eligible individuals is Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
I first learned about our countryman Cardinal Marc Ouellet upon his return from Rome in 2005 following the election of Pope Benedict XVI. At that time Ouellet was quoted as saying “It’s business as usual”. Or in other words we have elected a Pope who is as conservative as his predecessor and that’s fine with me.
Today the conservative Roman Catholic news media tout Ouellet as the hopeful and potential successor to Benedict XVI. However based on his conservative views it would appear his election would certainly mean more of the same as experienced under his predecessor and for a billion Catholics around the world.
But who is this Cardinal? A recent (Feb. 22, 2013) article in The Globe and Mail under the title ‘Ouellet Would Help DefendFortress Vatican’ paints a very dogmatic picture for the future of Catholicism should he be elected. He once admitted that being pope "would be a nightmare." He would know, having enjoyed the confidence of two pontiffs as a top-ranked Vatican insider. Among other things Ouellet is opposed to gay marriage, condemns abortion regardless of the circumstances, and more importantly appears opposed to any serious church reform. Another meaningful insight into Cardinal Ouellte's background comes from an unusual outside source offered by the Basque news eitb.
Yesterday Canada’s national broadcasting corporation (CBC) represented by Peter Mansbridge interviewed Cardinal Ouellett asking him some very pointed questions about the Vatican's handling of the sexual abuse scandal. Ouellet somewhat remorsefully stated “we have learned a lot from its mistakes”. However, when pressed if he thought that the Church had done enough Ouellet failed to admit that the church still has not addressed the endemic and systemic problems long identified by experts that continue to seriously prevent the church from moving forward on this issue. The CBC plans to present the conclusion to this two part series tonight during which Peter Mansbridge will ask Cardinal Ouellet if the church doctrine needs to re-act to social reality. It will be interesting to watch Ouellet’s response because On June 15, 2005 The Catholic New Times published the following article on precisely this question. His response at that time was "If there needs to be change, it needs to be in the world, not in the doctrine."
Compare this response to that from Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu from his book ‘Quantum Theology’ which states "Where religions have failed most dismally is in their perception and understanding of the world, which they all tend to dismiss as an inferior, ungodly, and transitory reality”. To ignore O’Murchu’s remarks would deny the overwhelming facts why so many Catholics in the western world have left the church. In the absence of any meaningful dialogue directly with so many disenfranchised Catholics would almost certainly spell the end for this 2000 year old church. But it would not necessarily mean the end of a more compassionate and understanding God for the majority of people. Perhaps we will then learn that being Christian means to imitate Jesus, not by building more basilicas and dictating more doctrine and dogma, but by living a life that follows Jesus’ command to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[There is no commandment greater than these.”
UPDATE: Mar.8, 2013
According to CNN News Rome -- A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a "Dirty Dozen" list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims. The complete list which includes Cardinal Marc Ouellet can be read here.