Card. Ouellet: I have to say to myself, ‘What if, what if…’ It makes me … somewhat afraid.”

One of the putative front-runners as the next Pope is Marc Card. Ouellet, 68 (about the right age) presently Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, formerly Archbishop of Quebec City, polyglot, firmly in the same “Communio” theology line with Joseph Ratzinger, who once said becoming pope “would be a nightmare”, etc. etc. A strong favorite of Fr. Z for the election.  I talked about him already in 2005 during “Papal April” on Fox News as the guy to watch.

There was an article about Card. Ouellet from Reuters about an interview he did with the CBC in which His Eminence speaks about the prospects of being the next Vicar of Christ.

Some quotes:

“I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better.”

“I can’t not think about the possibility. Reasonably, when I go into the conclave of cardinals, I have to say to myself, ‘What if, what if…’ It makes me reflect, it makes me pray, it makes me somewhat afraid. I am very conscious of the weight of the task,” he said.

“So you have to be ready for any outcome, but I think a certain number of people have more chance of being elected than me.”

I am more comfortable with the Electors choosing a man who really doesn’t want the role than one who really does want it.

Of course, the one elected has to say “Accepto“.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. McCall1981 says:

    Praying for him and the other Cardinals. Since his name has popped up, how does one pronounce ‘Ouellet’?

  2. FrP says:

    @McC. If you want to attempt it with a French accent it would be something like “Waah-let”, not “O-let”.

  3. Jeannie_C says:

    McCall1981, “Ouellet” is pronounced “wellET” emphasis on the last syllable. I’m from Quebec, and though it would be novel to have a Canadian Pope, I’m not rooting for him any more than for the others, I’ll just be prayerfully relieved to have this over with.

  4. MarcAnthony says:

    Fr. Z, why does the one elected have to accept? Surely if a Pope can renounce his position because he doesn’t think he’s fit for the job a Cardinal could turn down the position if he doesn’t think he’s fit?

    From what I’ve read he’s considered a favorite to be chosen for the papacy, but if he turns the position down I would think no less of him whatsoever.

  5. Jeannie_C says:

    Let’s try that pronunciation one more time – “wullET”. There, that’s got it!

  6. Imrahil says:

    Really “wellét” (which should be ouellette, in French)? not “welláy”?

  7. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z wrote, “I talked about him already in 2005 during “Papal April” on Fox News as the guy to watch.”

    Have you been asked by any media to go to Rome and be an on-air analyst again? I hope so.

  8. MarcAnthony says:

    …Anyway, I can’t see myself being disappointed with any choice the Church makes, but if it were up to me I would choose Cardinal Turkson. Because of the novelty of an African pope? You bet, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. He seems like an excellent candidate in his own right, he’s from the continent with fastest growing Catholic population, and he’ll send a message to the world that the Church is multi-racial and still conservative-not an unimportant thing in today’s world. And who else to make that statement than as strong a candidate as Cardinal Turkson?

    More than that, with the center of the Church outside of Europe it would be good to have a Pope who represents them.

    That said, as I said, all of the candidates look like they’re very holy men, and I still can’t see myself being disappointed in any of them. this should be interesting.

  9. Mrs. Bear says:

    I heard about Cardinal Ouellet during the last conclave but I really started to learn more about him while I was at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City.
    A wonderful bishop in such a hardened, anti-Catholic province.
    While at the congress he spoke about the First Bishop of New France, Bl. Bishop Francois-Xavier Laval and we received much literature on Laval.
    That would be a great pope name, Francois-(Francis) Xavier.

    BTW, the NHL Winter Classic will be held in St. Peter’s Square next year – mark my words! :)

  10. jhayes says:

    Regarding the pronunciation of Bishop Ouellet’s name , here are two TV interviews, one in French, the other in English. They both pronounce his name as if it were English Wel-let’



  11. Jason Keener says:

    I think Cardinal Ouellet would probably make a good Supreme Pontiff, but as a member of the lay faithful, I would love to see Cardinal Burke elevated to the Chair of St. Peter. I could think of no Cardinal better suited to the task. Cardinal Burke is familiar with the Roman Curia, familiar with the legal and canonical issues surrounding the current sexual abuse crisis, speaks several languages, has abundant pastoral experience and speaks clearly. Also, Cardinal Burke is humble, pious, Marian, not too old or too young, truly outstanding in doctrine, and completely liturgically sound.

    Despite our personal preferences, we, of course, must leave the selection of our next Holy Father to the wisdom of the Cardinals working under the grace of the Holy Spirit.

  12. Jeannie_C says:

    jhayes, the youtube video was what I was aiming for – needless to say growing up in Quebec I’ve heard the name before, though I obviously have no future in phonetics.

    I have to agree with Mrs. Bear that Quebec has become a hardened anti-Catholic province over the past decades. I remember how it was before the “quiet revolution”, how Catholicism was at the center of our lives, people pausing and praying when the Angelus bells were rung, kneeling in the snow on the sidewalk upon seeing a priest exit a vehicle, carrying Viaticum into a home. At the time of the first referendum on separation large number of Jews left the province, they’d experienced persecution in the past, would not remain for a repeat. By the second referendum our families left, too, refusing to live as second class citizens, it being illegal to have an English language sign on our lawn when selling our house, treatment at an urgent care clinic given in French only, no attempt to communicate in English. Attendance in Catholic churches is down to single digits, many parishes having closed. If the bishops and cardinals could not maintain order in their own province, I wonder how they think they could manage better at the Papal level?

  13. inexcels says:

    It’s not just the papacy. I think it’s the case for most offices that those best suited to leadership are to be found among those who don’t really want it.

  14. Jackie L says:

    Is he EF friendly, or has he celebrated it himself?

  15. Ralph says:


    In modern times, has any man refused to accept?

    I seem to recall a film on EWTN about Bl JPII where the old Cardinal Archbishop primate of Poland had to beg him to not refuse if elected.

    It was quite moving on film – I wonder if it is accurate?

  16. Jackie L says: Is he EF friendly, or has he celebrated it himself?

    I don’t believe he interested in the older forms. However, I cannot imagine that he would roll back what Pope Benedict did in Summorum Pontificum.

  17. Mrs. Bear says:

    Jeannie C.: “If the bishops and cardinals could not maintain order in their own province, I wonder how they think they could manage better at the Papal level?”
    You have to remember that Cardinal Ouellet before he was ordained Archbishop of Quebec was a professor. I don’t believe he was assigned to any church in Quebec.
    So when he became Archbishop of Quebec City in 2002 – you can’t blame him for the decline of the Catholic faith. By the time he became Archbishop – Quebec was a secular and anti-Catholic province. He had virtually very few clerics who were on the side of the Magisterium.
    He had been bishop in Quebec for just under 10 years before he was called back to Rome.
    During that time he got a feel for the land and now as Prefect for Bishops he has been serving the New Evangelization here in North America by choosing some orthodox bishops.
    He has been slowly choosing bishops for parts of Quebec who are (mercy me) Catholic!!
    If he became Pope he would make the communist governing party of Quebec uncomfortable.
    (the gov’t that has forced even private Catholic schools to cease teaching a Catholic course on religion and morality and switch to the “secular” and “neutral” Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course provided by the province’s government)

    BTW, Fr. Z:
    Cardinal Ouellet was ordained a Bishop on March 19th 2001
    Not only is St. Joseph Patron Saint of the Universal Church he is also the Patron Saint of Canada!

  18. JimmyA says:

    Sadly he is being identified in the UK media as “brokering” the O’Brien cover-up. I really hope that’s not true. If there were any substance behind it then he must not be chosen.

  19. Phil_NL says:

    At any rate, I believe we’ve seen a clear improvement in terms of new bishops in the last years, and Card Oullet would deserve at least part (probably the majority) of the credit for that. It’s a sign that I’d rate higher than most others (including whether or not a cardinal has celebrated an EF for Mass). The church often stands or falls in an area depending on the quality of its bishops.

    Speaking of the congregation for bishops, I’m not hearing a lot about Card Pell these days (though he’d be part of my top 5 of favorite papabile, even though he could have been a bit stiffer on islam). Any news on his chances / notable interviews etc?

  20. Traductora says:

    If he got O’Brien to voluntarily remove himself from the Conclave – and actually to write a letter taking personal responsibility and apologizing – I would certainly consider that a good thing, not a cover-up. Don’t forget that making gay passes at adult men is not illegal, and generally isn’t prosecutable. And O’Brien, perhaps to make up for his past sins, has been firmly against “gay marriage.”

    So unless there’s something I’m missing, I think Ouellet did well to eliminate him as a media focus, which is what he would have been. I just wish somebody had done the same with Cdls Mahony and Danneels. To me it is scandalous that they are participating.

    That said, it’s unfortunate that none of the front runners seems to be particularly interested in the traditional rite, and it looks to me like the policy may simply lapse into being one of tolerance rather than encouragement. But I suppose even that is better than the pre-BXVI situation.

  21. Hidden One says:

    As a Canadian, I’d like to make a few points.

    1. His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet gave a beautiful parish to the FSSP. (It’s the one shown prominently in Alfred Hitchock’s I Confess.)
    2. Cardinal Ouellet is said to have been brokering Keith Cardinal O’Brien’s absence from the conclave, not any cover up.
    3. Cardinal Ouellet is that stand-out antithesis to the Quebec Catholicism, a fact that landed him in much hot water in the press whilst he was Archbishop of Quebec and thereby Primate of Canada. On one notable occasion, His Grace Abp. Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa had to fly down to support him at a press conference in the absence of any of the Primate’s brother Quebec bishops.
    4. Since his promotion to Rome, Cardinal Ouellet has been busy having good bishops appointed and promoted in Canada – especially in Quebec.
    5. Cardinal Ouellet is very much of the mind of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. If that alone has not made him ‘sufficiently traditionalist’, deference to and respect the most recent occupant of the Chair of Peter would be sufficient.
    6. Having watched Part One of CBC’s worldwide exclusive English interview with Cardinal Ouellet last night, I must say it seems to me that no one is so afraid of the prospect of a Canadian pope from La Motte, Quebec than Cardinal Ouellet himself.

    In conclusion, if you want to re-elect Pope Benedict, you cannot be against the election of Marc Cardinal Ouellet.

  22. Mary T says:

    I skimmed through the comments and don’t think anyone has mentioned his beautiful, holy writing (though I do realize most of us are not looking for a professor but someone who can really take the reins, still, how he thinks and writes counts for a lot!). His “Communio” (Christological, Trinitarian) theology is precisely along the lines of JPII and B16, and is well worth reading, whether he is elected or not.

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