Card. Ouellet on Bishops

From CNA:

Every bishop must defend the faith, Vatican official says

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2011 / 03:20 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, said that every bishop is required to proclaim the Church’s teachings to modern society.

Bishops should be “capable of publicly defending the faith,” Cardinal Ouellet underscored. “In addition to the virtues that are normally demanded of a bishop, this capacity is particularly necessary today.”  [Willing and capable!]

In an interview with the Italian daily L’Avvenire on Nov. 18, Cardinal Ouellet described the involved process of selecting a new bishop which requires taking the opinions of numerous people into account.

“This research provides important elements for ruling out certain candidates and accepting and proposing others,” he said. “In some cases, additional inquiries need to be carried out. Altogether, it is a serious process that is normally done well.”

Some priests actually aspire to become bishops, he noted, saying that there can also be “movements or pressure to suggest or insist a certain priest be elevated.”

“For this reason, it is important to evaluate not only the human and emotional maturity, but also the spiritual maturity of the candidates for bishop,” he said.

Cardinal Ouellet noted he has also had some candidates turn down their appointments.

“There have been quite a few more than I expected,” he said. One of the main reasons for this trend is that “in recent years, the role of the bishop, and of authorities in general, both religious and political, is not at all easy.[That’s one way to put it.]

“Likewise because of the scandals, the media campaigns and the accusations of sexual abuse by priests and religious. It is understandable that not everyone wants to confront these situations.”

Ultimately, all bishops must realize that their mission is to serve Christ and the Church and not themselves, he stressed.

“Bishops should know who they are working for, that is, for the Lord and for the Church,” Cardinal Ouellet said. “Not for themselves. When this happens, it becomes apparent in the way in which their personality is expressed. The ladder-climber’s self-interest prevails or tends to prevail.”

Pray for your bishop. The task of diocesan bishops has become tremendously complicated, and the Devil hates them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. maynardus says:

    “Willing AND Capable of publicly defending the Faith” should be the absolute minimal, rock-bottom qualification(s) for a bishop, and thankfully the newer crop of bishops in the U.S. has generally exceeded that mark. But it has certainly been a problem in the past and even the recent past, my own ordinary – a sandal-wearing archbishop with a red hat – is more than capable of publicly defending the Faith, I can only assume he is not willing. One could reasonably ask, e.g. whether the bishops of Rochester and Albany in New York were either willing or capable.

    “Capable… and Willing” – nice and pithy. Perhaps too minimalistic for an episcopal motto, but maybe on a coffee mug: “All we ask is bishops who are capable and willing”? Or as the theme of a campaign to prod a refractory bishop into action? This has possibilities, I like it…

    Oh, and it is wonderful to hear the prefect for the Congregation for Bishops speaking so frankly. We have much to be thankful for in this papacy.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    When I went to private Catholic, classical curriculum high school and private Catholic university, we had out and out leadership training. We were told we were to be leaders in the world and as Catholics, this meant standing against the tide. People were groomed for leadership positions.

    America, and I am sure other countries as well, fell into the mediocrity of destroying elite, leadership training in the schools, the price for so-called equality. Even the great universities of the past dropped this idea that leaders had to be picked out early and trained, which meant separating those with such abilities out of the rest of the group.

    This idea is now politically incorrect and American society and the Catholic Church are seeing the results of a lack of leadership training, which is, no leaders. Recently I was discussing the six coming empty bishoprics in England with a priest who decried the fact that there was not a “cache” of leaders in the priesthood from which to choose bishops. We have done this to ourselves.

    Not everyone is equal. Not all men have the same gifts and abilities. We are reaping what we have sown in the mediocrity of our culture. Bishops do not spring out of nothing, but a background of discipline, training and grooming.

    I have been discussing the level of seminary training with a theologian here is Malta. We agree on this principle, that training in the seminaries in America and Malta involve a very low level of academic achievement. I am tired of hearing that such and such a major seminary has a high academic standard when I see the coursework which is what I had in my last two years of high school and first two years of undergraduate work. In most places, Latin for scholarship, is not even required, not even here in Malta.

    We have dumbed down the making of our bishops. Even some are willing, are they capable? The pool of available leaders had practically dried up. We must pray to the Holy Spirit for a renewal of real discipline in the Church so that leaders can come forward, instead of being either discouraged, or kicked out of the seminaries. The mediocre have been running the show and still choose those who go forward.

  3. wmeyer says:

    I shall pray for my bishop, and for him to influence our parishes in a direction consistent with that of the Holy Father. And I shall pray for the Holy Father, and for his continuing resolve, that we may see the fruits of reform of the reform, hopefully during my life. And last, I shall pray for the grace to await with patience the changes for which I pray.

  4. lucy says:

    We’re still praying for our bishop yet to be named for the diocese of Fresno. May he be a good and holy man willing to stand up for the truth!

  5. It seems that Card. Ouellet sure messed up on his latest appointment of Bishop Córdoba in Columbia, who thinks that women can be priests and that confession can take place over the Internet (source). The selection process is normally done well, but not always, it seems.

    However, Card. Ouellet does know what he’s talking about when he talks about the role of bishop not being easy. In 2010 when he was Archbishop in Quebec, he was tarred and feathered by the media for affirming on camera that abortion is a crime, and abandoned by all the other bishops who were quick to disassociate themselves from Ouellet.

  6. Sixupman says:

    Canon Sheehan’s book, Luke Delmege, follows the progress of two seminarians and is apposite to the issues raised here. A very good read!

  7. Thomas G. says:

    “aspire to become Bishops”? This seems to me to be a very different attitude from that of the early Church Fathers, who viewed the episcopacy as imposing such great responsibilities that poor performance would imperil their souls. It was an office to be entered upon with fear and trembling because of the responsibility for so many souls.

  8. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I would pray for my bishop, if I had a bishop to pray for. Cardinal Ouellet and his crew need to take less espresso breaks and get to work on sending me one. LOL.

  9. @Thomas G.
    Things look like they’re slowly getting better. There was a time when a bishop’s charge could be bought, or when bishops were appointed because of political or family connections. Now, we’re back to a point where being a bishop isn’t so attractive. I hope we can expect the Church to flourish spiritually as it did in the first centuries.

  10. JARay says:

    I had my attention drawn to what the Bishop of Dunedin in New Zealand has to say about the new translation of the Mass. His diocese publishes a journal called The Tablet and his comments are in the November issue. They are a repeat of what he published in London’s The Tablet and are the kind of comments which one has come to expect from that journal. He urges his Flock to reject the word “men” when saying the Creed, because saying it demeans women. I have written a letter to him telling him that his job as a bishop is to defend the teaching of the Church, not to actively try to undermine it. If any of you feel like telling him the same thing you can google “Catholic diocese of Dunedin NZ” and read his current The Tablet. and then email him. He gives his email address.

  11. JARay says:

    Instead of googling for the diocese of Dunedin you can go directly to The Tablet there and the bishop’s remarks are on pages 3 and 4:-

  12. Hidden One says:


    Perhaps pass it on to the Congregations for Bishops and for Divine Worship.

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