Cardinal Marc Ouellet (#3 papabili), Curia, Canadians, Sulpicians, Congregation for Bishops — The Significance

[q.v. ‘Canada does well when it comes to cardinals,‘ July 4, 2010]

That the possibly ‘conservative’ Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Sulpician, my #3 papabili from way back in 2009, was appointed Prefect of the influential Congregation for Bishops on June 30, 2010 was BIG news, though the imminent possibility of this was talked about two weeks previously.

It is indeed true that he is the first Canadian, and the first Sulpician, to head up the Congregation for Bishops.

So, I started to look around to see how significant this was. Other than for the above two, very specific landmarks, there is, in reality, nothing exceptionally remarkable about this appointment.

  • He is NOT the first non-Italian or non-European to be Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops. Brazilian Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves was Prefect from 1998 to 2000, while Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, from Benin (W. Africa) was Prefect for 14 years from 1984 to 1998. So there has already been a cardinal from the Americas heading up this Congregation.
  • He is NOT the first from a religious order to be Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops. Brazilian Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves [above] belonged to the Dominican Order of Preachers (O.P.)
  • He is NOT the first Canadian to head up an important curial dicastery. Canadian Cardinal Édouard Gagnon was the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 1983 to 1985.
  • He is NOT the first Sulpician to head up an important curial dicastery. French Sulpician Cardinal André-Damien-Ferdinand Jullien was the Dean of the (Sacred) Roman Rota (albeit before becoming a cardinal), the ultimate appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, from 1944 to 1958.
  • He is NOT even the first Canadian Sulpician to head up an important curial dicastery! Canadian Cardinal Édouard Gagnon [above] was also a Sulpician.

None of this should, in anyway, diminish or detract from the significance of Marc Ouellet’s appointment. It is a great thing for Cardinal Ouellet, Canada, Sulpicians and those, like ME, who have identified him as a papabili.

From everything I have heard, but I am not a dedicated cardinal watcher, he is a good, decent man who in 2007 publicly apologized for the pre-1960 errors of the Roman Catholic Church. [Page 18 of my ‘The Next Pope‘ book.]

But, already I have seen folks claiming that he will, when nominating potential bishops (which is his principal duty), gravitate towards clerics who have favored the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. They are basically saying that he will further the John Paul II (#265) and Benedict XVI (#266) agenda, now in its third decade, of trying to shift the Church continually to the RIGHT. That as recently as May 2010, he refused to back down on his views that abortion was impermissible, even in the case of rape (or incest), is irrefutable. All this said, thanks to John Paul II and Benedict XVI the upper echelons of the Church are already right leaning. So all that Cardinal Ouellet is likely to do is further this long established agenda.

Whether he continues to be a bona fide Sulpician is of more interest. The Sulpicians demand that their members are diocesan priests. The Cardinal is no longer that — but the Sulpician, understandably, will be loath to let him go. He has brought great honor to the order and could further the cause of its 350 or so members.

All of this, food for though. Enjoy.

Cheers,
Anura Guruge

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