Marc Ouellet

Marc Ouellet
His Eminence 
Marc Ouellet, PSS
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops & President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America
See Archbishop Emeritus of Quebec
Enthroned 30 June 2010
(&100000000000000010000001 year, &10000000000000141000000141 days)
Reign ended Incumbent
Other posts Archbishop of Quebec (2003-10)
Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (2001-03)
Ordination 25 May 1968
Consecration 19 March 2001
Created Cardinal 21 October 2003
Personal details
Born June 8, 1944 (1944-06-08) (age 67)
La Motte, Quebec

Marc Ouellet, PSS (born 8 June 1944, La Motte, Quebec) is a Canadian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is the 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 thus primate of Canada. He was elevated to the cardinalate, by Pope John Paul II, on 21 October 2003.



Born on June 8, 1944 in La Motte near Amos in Abitibi, he is one of eight children born to a headmaster father and a housewife mother. He received his primary education from 1950 to 1956 in his home parish. There he also began his secondary education (1956-1958) in order to finish them at the Berthier College (1958-1959), and did his college education as well as two years of philosophy at the École Normale of Amos (1959-1964), earning there a Bachelor of Pedagogy degree from Laval University in 1964. After his theological studies at the Grand séminaire de Montréal (1964-1968), where in 1968 he received a license in theology from the University of Montreal, he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Amos on May 25, 1968 in his home parish, and appointed curate in the St-Sauveur Parish of Val d'Or (1968-1970).[1]

After a few months of studying the Spanish language at the end of 1970, he taught philosophy at the Major Seminary of Bogotá in Colombia, directed by the Sulpicians, and decided in 1972 to join the Society of St. Sulpice doing the Solitude at the Seminary of Philosophy in Montreal. Then he continued his studies in Rome where he obtained a license in philosophy from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1974, while studying German in Innsbruck, Austria during this period. Assigned in 1974 as a member of the formation team and professor at the Major Seminary of Manizales in Colombia, in 1976 he was recalled to Canada to fulfill the same functions at the Major Seminary of Montreal. Returning to studies in 1978, he obtained in 1982 a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, also continuing his studies of German in Passau. Assigned in 1982 as a member of formation team and professor of the Major Seminary of Cali, Colombia, in 1983 he became rector of the Major Seminary of Manizales, and in 1988 first consultor of the Canadian Provincial Council of Sulpicians (a position he held until 1994) as well as a member of the formation team and professor at the Major Seminary of Montreal. He assumed the rectorship there in 1990, to pass, in 1994, to that of St. Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton. He also taught at Newman Theological College in 1996-1997 and was a lecturer at the John Paul II Institute in Rome. From 1995 to 2000 he was consultor of the Congregation for the Clergy, and in 1996 the consultor of the General Council of the Sulpicians. Since 1997 he was Titular Professor of dogmatic theology at the John Paul II Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University.[1]

Professor and theologian

Ouellet spent most of his priestly career as a professor and rector in seminaries. He also received a license in philosophy from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) (1976), and a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1982).


Ouellet was named titular archbishop of Acropolis and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 3 March 2001. Pope John Paul II personally 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 (installed on 26 January 2003), and has been one of the most staunch defenders of the Catholic faith in the Canadian hierarchy.

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


Styles of
Marc Ouellet
CardinalCoA PioM.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Quebec

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 any future papal conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on 8 June 2024.

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 of 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 continued musing, adding "It is a crushing responsibility", the cardinal mused. "It's the kind of thing you don't campaign for."[2]

Roman Curia

He is the present prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 30 June 2010. He took over from Giovanni Battista Re, who had reached the age limit.[3]

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[4] 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.[5] On 29 January 2011, Cardinal Ouellet was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a member of Secretariat of State (second section)[6] On 6 April 2011, Cardinal Ouellet was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts by Pope Benedict.



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."[7]

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.”[8]

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."[citation needed]

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.[9]

Church persecutions

Ouellet has claimed the Catholic Church is persecuted in contemporary secular Quebec for telling the truth.[10]

Public apology

In a letter published in Quebec French-language newspapers on November 21, 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."[11][12][13][14]

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.[15]


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."[citation needed]

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.[16]


External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Maurice Couture
Primate of Canada
15 November 2002 – 30 June 2010
Succeeded by
Gérald Cyprien Lacroix
Archbishop of Quebec
15 November 2002 – 30 June 2010
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
30 June 2010 – present
President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America
30 June 2010 – present


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