Marc Ouellet

Marc Armand Ouellet PSS (born 8 June 1944) is a Canadian Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church.[1] He has been the 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 was Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada from 2002 to 2010. He was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II on 21 October 2003. Ouellet was considered a papabile to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned on 28 February 2013.[2]

Marc Ouellet

Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Orden Vasco Nuñez Card Ouellet.jpg
Ouellet in 2012
Appointed30 June 2010
PredecessorGiovanni Battista Re
Other posts
Ordination25 May 1968
by Gaston Hains
Consecration19 March 2001
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal Bishop
Personal details
Birth nameMarc Armund Ouellet
Born (1944-06-08) 8 June 1944 (age 76)
La Motte, Quebec, Canada
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsPierre Ouellet and Graziella Michaud
Previous post
MottoUt unum sint (That they may be one)
John 17:21
Coat of armsMarc Ouellet's coat of arms
Styles of
Marc Ouellet
Coat of arms of Marc Ouellet.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Ouellet is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German. He is known for his missionary work in South America.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Ouellet was born on 8 June 1944 into a Catholic family of eight children in La Motte, Quebec. His father, Pierre, was a farmer who was self-taught, and later director-general of the area's school board. Young Ouellet attended Mass at Église Saint-Luc (now a community centre) regularly with his family. In retrospect, Ouellet has described his family as religious but not very devout. His childhood interests included reading, ice hockey, hunting partridge, and fishing. One of his summer jobs was fighting forest fires. While recovering from a hockey injury at age 17, he read Thérèse of Lisieux and started a more focused search for meaning. Pierre was reluctant about the idea of his son entering the priesthood, but it was while still a teenager that Marc told him he had made a firm decision.

He was ordained in 1968 at Eglise Saint-Luc. He became vicar at the Saint-Sauveur church in nearby Val-d'Or. In 1970 he left for South America to teach philosophy at the Major Seminary of Bogotá.[4] In 1972 he entered the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice (Sulpicians).[5]

Professor and theologianEdit

Ouellet spent most of his priestly career as a professor and a rector in seminaries. He is an alumnus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum in Rome where he earned a license in philosophy in 1976. He also earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1982).


Ouellet was named titular archbishop of Agropoli and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 3 March 2001. Pope John Paul II consecrated him as a bishop, with cardinals Angelo Sodano and Giovanni Battista Re as co-consecrators, on 19 March 2001 at St. Peter's Basilica.


On 15 November 2002 he was appointed Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada by Pope John Paul II.


Marc Ouellet with David Johnston, and Jason Kenney the night before the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis

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 Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Ouellet remains eligible to vote in future papal conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on 8 June 2024. He voted in the 2013 conclave, which elected Benedict XVI's successor, Pope Francis.

The 2008 International Eucharistic Congress took place in Québec City, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City. 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 Ouellet addressed speculation about 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 added: "It is a crushing responsibility. It's the kind of thing you don't campaign for."[6]

During the 2013 papal conclave, Ouellet was among the most voted for in the first two ballots, but was eventually surpassed by Bergoglio.[7]

Roman CuriaEdit

He is the present prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since his appointment to both positions by Pope Benedict XVI on 30 June 2010. He succeeded Giovanni Battista Re, who had reached the 75 years age limit, and he himself reached that age in 2019.[8]

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[9] 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.[10] On 29 January 2011, Ouellet was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a member of Secretariat of State (second section)[11] On 6 April 2011, Ouellet was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts by Pope Benedict. On 7 March 2012 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[12]

On 19 February 2014 he was confirmed to a five-year term as member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches by Pope Francis.[13]

Pope Francis raised him to the rank of Cardinal Bishop effective 28 June 2018.[14]



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 EuropeEdit

In February 2011 Ouellet said that the relativization 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."[15]

Interpretations of the Second Vatican CouncilEdit

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."[16]

Pastoral approachEdit

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."[17]

Catholic educationEdit

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.[18]

Church persecutionsEdit

Ouellet has stated the Catholic Church is persecuted in contemporary secular Quebec for telling the truth.[19]

Public apologyEdit

In a letter published in Quebec French-language newspapers on 21 November 2007, 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."[20][21][22][23]


At a rally against abortion in 2010, Ouellet said that abortions should not be performed in cases of pregnancy from rape, saying "But there is already a victim. Must there be another one?"[24]

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".[25]

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".[26]


Ouellet testified before the Senate of Canada, urging Senators to vote against legalising same-sex marriage, referring to it as a "pseudo-marriage, a fiction."[27]

Bishop selection methodologyEdit

As prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Ouellet plays a primary role in the selection of new archbishops and bishops around the world. Bishops appointed during his term have generally been seen as theologians and defenders of the faith. Bishops appointed during his term include: Angelo Scola, Charles J. Chaput, Luis Antonio Tagle, and Charles Morerod.

Ouellet states: "Today, especially in the context of our secularized societies, we need bishops who are the first evangelizers, and not mere administrators of dioceses, who are capable of proclaiming the Gospel, who are not only theologically faithful to the magisterium and the pope but are also capable of expounding and, if need be, of defending the faith publicly." He also cautioned that if a priest or a bishop aspires and maneuvers to be promoted to a prominent diocese, "it is better for him to stay where he is."[28]

Women in the ChurchEdit

In 2018 after the Pennsylvania report and the McCarrick scandal, Cardinal Ouellet said women should play a greater role in the training of priests to fight child abuse saying, "We would need participation of more women in (training) of priests," in Poznan.[29]


Some texts published under Cardinal Ouellet's name have been found to be plagiarized from multiple sources, possibly by his alleged ghostwriter, Father Thomas Rosica. [30]

Brian Boucher controversyEdit

On November 25, 2020, a report was released detailing how a Catholic church-commissioned investigation led by former Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo found that Ouellet was among the former Archdiocese of Montreal officials who took no action against pedophile priest Brian Boucher after receiving reports Boucher sexually abused boys.[31] Boucher pled guilty in January 2019 to sex abuse charges and received an eight-year prison sentence.[31]



  1. ^ "Marc Ouellet reportedly helped broker Cardinal Keith O'Brien's exit". National Post. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  2. ^ Thompson, Nick (8 March 2013). "Gambling with God: Staking a wager on the next pope". CNN. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  3. ^ National Catholic Reporter, "Three Possible Popes" by John L. Allen, 4 May 2011.
  4. ^ Peritz, Ingrid (16 February 2013). "In Rome, bright hopes. Back home, dimmed faith", The Globe and Mail, pp. F1, F4.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Martin, Stéphanie (30 June 2011). "Devenir pape "serait un cauchemar", dit Marc Ouellet". Le Soleil. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  7. ^ Magister, Sandro (21 December 2019). "Conclave Rehearsals. The Next Pope Will Take His Name From Sant'Egidio". L'Espresso. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Rinunce E Nomine". Press Office of the Holy See. 30 June 2010. Archived from the original on 7 July 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede Nomina Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede". 16 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Di Membri Del Pontificio Consiglio Per La Promozione Della Nuova Evangelizzazione". Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Nomina Di Membri Del Consiglio Di Cardinali E Vescovi Della Sezione Per I Rapporti Con Gli Stati Della Segreteria Di Stato". 29 January 2011. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Rinunce E Nomine". 7 March 2012. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Pope Confirms Cardinal Sandri as Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches". Zenit. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Rescriptum ex Audientia Ss.mi" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Cardinal Ouellet Warns Against Bible Crisis". Zenit. 8 February 2011. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  16. ^ National Post: "Canadian cardinal to set tone for Church" Archived 28 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine 19 August 2010
  17. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (2005). "Who Will Be the Next Pope?". National Catholic Reporter.
  18. ^ "Québec : Boycott du cours obligatoire d'éthique et de culture religieuse". ZENIT. 23 January 2009. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Québec : "L'Eglise est persécutée parce qu'elle dit la vérité reçue de Dieu"". 13 April 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  20. ^ Lettre ouverte du Cardinal Marc Ouellet – À la recherche de la fierté québécoise (PDF) Archived 29 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine – text of the letter in French
  21. ^ Cardinal Ouellet's issues mea culpa to Quebec Archived 29 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine – English translation of the letter
  22. ^ "Quebecers reluctantly accept archbishop's apology". CBC News. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  23. ^ "Surprised by reactions, cardinal insists apology was an 'act of peace'". CBC News. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  24. ^ "Cardinal's abortion remarks anger politicians". CBC News. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  25. ^ "Correction to May 26 story on abortion". St. Albert Gazette. The Canadian Press. 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Quebec archbishop defends comments on abortion". CTV News. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  27. ^ Woods, Allan (15 February 2013). "Marc Ouellet: Canadian pope prospect who says top job would be a 'nightmare'". The Guardian.
  28. ^ Catholic San Francisco: "Theologians, defenders of faith, prominent among recently named bishops worldwide" Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine 17 January 2012
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ [2]
  31. ^ a b Shingler, Benjamin (25 November 2020). "Report blames top Montreal Church officials for ignoring complaints about priest who preyed on young boys". CBC News. Retrieved 30 November 2020.

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Maurice Couture
Primate of Canada
Archbishop of Quebec

15 November 2002 – 30 June 2010
Succeeded by
Gérald Lacroix
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America

30 June 2010 – present