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Thank you, Cardinal Ouellet

on Sunday, 01 August 2010. Posted in Canadian Church

Cardinal Ouellet, instrument of resurrection for the Church in Quebec

Cardinal Ouellet and Benedict XVI
Cardinal Ouellet with Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne, Germany,
on August 19, 2005, during the World Youth Day.

On June 30, 2010, the Vatican announced that the archbishop of Quebec City, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, was appointed the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. This is a great loss for Quebec, but a gain for the universal Church, for Cardinal Ouellet is an exceptionally gifted Bishop, who has the courage to proclaim the truths of the Catholic faith, and protect his flock from the attacks of the wolves and other enemies of the Church. His courageous stand made him a target of the secularist news media in Quebec, but people of good faith all over Canada recognized his tremendous contribution to the defense of the Catholic faith in Quebec. We want to thank you, Your Eminence, for all that you did for us. Here are excerpts from two reflections that really demonstrate our feelings.

The first text is a reflection written by Canadian Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada.

by Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

On June 30, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. As of June 30, he is no longer the archbishop of Quebec City and primate of Canada but assumes his new roles in the Roman Curia. He will move to Rome at the end of the summer. (…)

I speak for myself and on behalf of all of us at Salt & Light Television when I say that we are saddened at his departure from Canada. At the same time, we are thrilled for the universal Church and for the Vatican, that they will get to experience the great gift we have had in our midst for the past seven years in the person of Cardinal Marc Ouellet. (…)

Cardinal Ouellet

At the Eucharistic Congress in 2008

One of the great blessings of World Youth Day 2002 (in Toronto) came to us in November 2002, the day of Archbishop Ouellet’s appointment to Quebec City. From the moment he "took possession" of the Archdiocese of Quebec in January 2003, we knew that something had changed… for Quebec and for Canada. He ruffled feathers that needed to be ruffled, issued challenges to many who had become too familiar with the status quo, and issued challenges to all of us. (…)

The past seven years with Cardinal Ouellet in Canada have been moments of great blessings and abundant graces. (…) To have worked closely with him, as English language Media Attache, at the October 2008 Synod of Bishops at the Vatican on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, was an extraordinary privilege. It was during the Synod that I witnessed his leadership qualities at work in that universal assembly. His ability to synthesize the thoughts and words of ecclesial leaders from every corner of the earth was masterful.

The Cardinal’s departure from Canada will be a great loss for the Canadian Church but a great gift to the universal Church. He brings to his new Vatican posting a remarkable theological, pastoral and spiritual intellect, a deep understanding of the universal church, the ability to grasp complex issues and make them comprehensible to others, evangelical boldness and courage, deep spirituality and faith, and a love of human beings, especially young people. He is well known to bishops and priests throughout the world.

Each prefect brings his own gifts to the world. Cardinal Ouellet comes to the Congregation for Bishops with a very different skill set. He is a professor of theology and has worked in the formation of priests. He brings pastoral experience of a bishop of a residential see. He knows the challenges of secularism, quietism, religious indifference and atheism. He also knows the deep longings, hopes and pains of human hearts, especially the hearts of priests and bishops. He knows the complex set of qualities needed for pastors and shepherds today. (…)

In the midst of great progress in social matters, Canada is still strongly marked by a deep secularization shown by strong religious indifference. The real problem in Quebec has been the spiritual void created by a religious and cultural rupture, a significant loss of memory, bringing in its wake a family crisis and an education crisis, leaving citizens disoriented, unmotivated, and destabilized. Anchors have been displaced or lost. No one has tackled this indifference over the past few years more courageously, eloquently and publicly than Cardinal Marc Ouellet. Observing that "secular fundamentalists" had dominated Quebec life since the Silent Revolution, Quebec’s Cardinal, argued that this was a historical rupture: "Quebec society has rested for 400 years on two pillars: French culture and the Catholic religion, which form the base that enables it to integrate other elements of its current pluralist identity."

It was Cardinal Ouellet’s immediate predecessor, Archbishop Maurice Couture, who launched the idea of the International Eucharistic Congress shortly after World Youth Day 2002 in Canada. Cardinal Ouellet "inherited" the project and brought it to its completion. The Eucharistic Congress was a privileged opportunity for Canada to re-actualize the historic and cultural patrimony of holiness and social engagement of the Church which draws its roots from the Eucharistic mystery.

When we think of Cardinal Ouellet, many of us will remember that blessed week in June, 2008, when we caught a glimpse of a tide that is turning. Several times during that magnificent week of June 2008, Cardinal Ouellet, stated emphatically that the Congress marked a "turning point". At the lively Saturday evening prayer vigil with his devoted young people, the Cardinal said the he felt as if he had been "raised from the dead." What fitting words to describe what is afoot in Quebec: a resurrection of sorts! Cardinal Marc Ouellet was God’s instrument of resurrection at this moment in Canadian history.

If the Eucharist is Gift of God for the life of the world, then Cardinal Marc Ouellet has truly been a gift of God for the life of the Church in Canada, and especially in Quebec. Merci beaucoup, Cardinal Ouellet journeying with us these past seven years.

Two expressions linger in my mind these days: "Je me souviens" (Quebec’s motto: I remember) and "Mane Nobiscum" (the prayer of the Emmaus disciples to their Lord: "Stay with us."

We will not forget all that you did for the Church in Canada, and for us at Salt & Light Television. And while our first instincts would be to utter the prayer of the two on the Emmaus road, begging you to remain with us longer, we also know that by giving you to the universal Church in this way, we will be blessed in ways we never imagined.

We will remember you with hearts of gratitude and accompany you with our affection and prayers. Au Revoir, Eminence!

-Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

Here are excerpts from a second text written by Father Ramond J. de Souza, published in the July 2, 2010 issue of the Toronto National Post, under the title, "Ouellet’s fast rise and papal prospects." (You can find the full text on the internet at this address)

by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Cardinal Ouellet and Fatima

Cardinal Ouellet with our Mexican full-time pilgrim Fatima Cervantes at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in 2008

With Tuesday’s announcement that Pope Benedict has named Cardinal Ouellet to the third most senior post in the Vatican, he becomes the highest-ranking Canadian in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. (...) The appointment is significant for Canada in the present.

First, the effect on Quebec will be significant. While the appointment indicates papal favour upon Cardinal Ouellet’s willingness to challenge the increasingly secular, narrow and intolerant public discourse in Quebec, his absence will leave an enormous hole. For some 40 years now, Quebec’s bishops have more or less accommodated themselves to the secularization of Quebec, co-operating even in the elimination of Christianity in the schools. When Cardinal Ouellet challenged the secular fundamentalism of the Quebec consensus, he often stood alone, his brother bishops opting to remain silent -- most recently in the debates about abortion. His first task in his new job will be to find his replacement and it will not be easy to do.

Second, for Canada as a whole, it means that the appointment of bishops here will receive special attention at the highest level of the Church. Cardinal Ouellet’s move to Quebec in 2002 was itself part of a trend toward more confident, evangelical and publicly courageous bishops in Canada. One can expect that he will continue to look for the same in recommending bishops, not just for Canada but worldwide. (...)

Above all, though, it is a day of great pride for the oft-beleaguered Church in Quebec and the increasingly confident Church in Canada, that one of our own has been so chosen. Quebec’s loss is Rome’s gain.