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Cardinal Ouellet holds the future of the English Church in his hands

He is an excellent choice as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. But Cardinal Pell would have been better

By on Friday, 16 July 2010

Cardinal Ouellet's views on abortion have made him unpopular among feminists in Canada (Photo: CNS)

Cardinal Ouellet's views on abortion have made him unpopular among feminists in Canada (Photo: CNS)

Before heading off for his summer hols at Castel Gandolfo – (where I trust he will have a real break, play lots of Mozart on his Steinway grand, and forget all about the pig’s ear currently being made of arrangements for his state visit to the UK) – Pope Benedict made a number of key appointments, including that of Cardinal Marc Ouellet (pronounced Oo-ell-ette) as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. This appears to be an excellent choice. The cardinal has been, among other satisfactory things, a member of the editorial board of Communio (which places him firmly with the Pope as a defender of the hermeneutic of continuity and an opponent of modern secular values), and he is very unpopular with Canadian feminists for his views on abortion: one newspaper columnist has expressed the wish that Cardinal Ouellet suffer a slow, painful death. So this cardinal is 100 per cent kosher. He will now be head of the dicastery which advises the Pope in choosing bishops.

Now, this looks like a very good appointment. But where does it leave the Church in England (also in Scotland)? How much does he know about the Church here? Will Cardinal Ouellet take his cue over English appointments from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, already (why?) a member of the congregation? If he does, we have nothing to look forward to but a continuation of the present policy of appointing thoroughgoing liberal secularisers – think Kieran Conry – to English dioceses (see my blog on the Soho Masses).

Many English Catholics had hoped for the appointment to this powerful congregation of Cardinal George Pell, who knows about England, and would take a personal and well-informed interest in the appointment of English bishops. The alleged reasons for his non-appointment, if true, are particularly galling. Cardinal Pell has in the past been accused of sexual abuse and then been completely exonerated by a secular judge. But the mere fact of his accusation, it seems, has ruled him out.

The other reason, according to the same supposedly well-informed source, is that Cardinal Pell had been strongly supported by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and that “Vatican figures” hostile to Cardinal Bertone stood in the way. And who might they be? Well, one of the excellent cardinal’s enemies, undoubtedly, is toxic Cardinal Angelo Sodano (see my blog), an experienced backstairs conspirator. Who knows? But I would not be in the least surprised. Whatever the reason, though, it is bad news, or at least a failure of really good news, for us.

  • Alexanderhbush

    I'm from Ontario, and have met Cardinal Ouellet once at the Canadian March for Life. He is a very good man, and, despite your concerns about further appointments in the UK, Canadian Catholics are very excited for our future appointments – including, God willing, some cardinals.

    That said, Ouellet has been the strongest supporter of true Catholic values in Canada in recent times. He has been lambasted by the media (as you mentioned) and not shaken once. If my analysis is correct, the Pope chose Ouellet for this post because of his dedication to orthodoxy – a dedication that will, I pray, breach national boundaries.

    Furthermore, Ouellet knows plenty about modernist bishops in Canada (we have our fair share – the majority of the bishops – though this is beginning to change) so I think (hope, pray) that he can smell a rat!

    So from the Dominion (I always like that term, history means something to me) comes a good man who will – fingers crossed – do some good in England!

  • Warren

    Also Canadian; also met Cardinal Ouellet.

    He's theologically solid; erudite. Our loss is definitely the world's gain! Sad to see him go. He will do much good for the Universal Church.

    Prayers for Ouellet, the U.K. and Ireland.

  • Anura Guruge

    I have heard from some Italians, living in Italy and 'close' to the Church, that there are high expectations that Cardinal Ouellet will show a marked preference for promoting conservative clerics — in particular those partial to the Latin Mass.
    Cardinal Ouellet has been #3 in my published papabili list since 2009, http://popes-and-papacy.com/papabili.htm, so I am rather partial to him and hope, in time, he will make my predictions look good.
    Thank you.
    Anura Guruge

  • Frbitsche

    As a priest in Quebec, I look forward to Cardinal Ouellet (pronounced Wa-lette – not oo-lette – as he is quebecois) exercising his new position. Nearly half of the bishops of the province will soon retire and we need some real changes. I am sure the good cardinal will get to know the situation in the UK and other countries and ensure that good, holy bishops are chosen.