National Catholic Register


Man of Many Hats

Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet Spearheads Upcoming Eucharistic Congress and World Synod of Bishops



February 10-16, 2008 Issue | Posted 2/5/08 at 2:55 PM


Catholics around the world are certain to hear quite a lot from Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City in the next few months.

Cardinal Ouellet will be taking a leading role in both the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress, to be held June 15-22 in Quebec City, and in the worldwide Synod of Bishops this October at the Vatican. The cardinal spoke Jan. 26 with Register correspondent Edward Pentin about those events and about Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to the United States.

Quebec will host the 49th International Eucharistic Congress June 15-22, with the theme “Gift of God for the Life of the World.” What are your hopes and aims?

First of all, I’d say that an International Eucharistic Congress is a testimony of the Catholic Church in the presence of the Risen Christ in the holy Eucharist. So it’s a celebration, first of all.

As you noticed, it’s “For the Life of the World,” so we want to show the link between the gift of God, which is the Risen Lord in the holy Eucharist, and peace, justice, compassion, solidarity, the life of the world. We want to address in the discussions of the congress the topics of justice, solidarity, family and family life.

The Synod on the Eucharist took place in 2005. Have many of its recommendations been implemented?

I think a Eucharistic congress is a great opportunity to implement what was suggested. For example, the synod mentioned the renewal of adoration and one of the aims of the Eucharistic congress of Quebec will be to foster adoration inside Mass, and also outside, in the Catholic tradition.

On this aspect there is progress — we noticed that at the synod. The movement of adoration is growing in the world. It is a good sign and we hope that it will continue.

What will hosting the congress in Quebec bring to the event?

We have a history of holiness. We’ve had 14 people beatified or canonized during the pontificate of John Paul II. As holiness has always been linked to the Eucharist, so it’s the same for us: To celebrate the holy Eucharist with the whole world is an extraordinary opportunity to come back to our roots and to be more aware of the gifts we have received, gifts we still have to develop — reform of education and so on — in a context that’s more difficult because of secularization.

So we really need to connect the gift of God par excellence, which is the holy Eucharist, our story of holiness, and the life of today.

You’re going to be the general relator for the Bishops’ Synod on Sacred Scripture in October. Why was this theme chosen?

This has been a desire for several years. The proposal was put forward and I think it is a very important choice. It complements the Synod on the Holy Eucharist because the Catholic faith, or the Christian faith, is based on the fact that God speaks to the world through Jesus Christ and through holy Scripture, which is a witness to Jesus Christ.

We need really to complement, to affirm, the faith in the presence of God in Christ in the holy Eucharist. We need to go back to the basis itself. God speaks to the world through Jesus Christ and the Church has kept the testimony of his life in the holy Scripture, in the Jewish tradition and the continuity of this tradition.

It’s the most basic synod in a way because it comes back to the starting point: the Word of God.

What will be your role?

My role as relator is to introduce the work of the synod, which will allow to be discussed further and provide the synod with a pastoral goal — how we receive Scripture and the Word of God so people of God will live it out better. That’s the pastoral goal of the synod.

It’s a difficult task, because you have to introduce the work and reflection of the synod fathers and then, after 10 days of listening to what has been said, you give a second intervention to the assembly to summarize and focus even more on the work.

With others you then have to finalize the propositions, because at the end we have many amendments. We have to do a sort of editing and finalize the propositions. Those are the main tasks.

The Holy Father will be visiting the United States in April. What impact do you think his visit will have?

It is an important visit. Obviously, his first aim is to go to New York and deliver a message of peace. At this time in the world we really need a word of wisdom on the situation of humanity and a call to peace.

I think it will have a great impact on the United States, and Canada too because he will speak to the whole world from the United Nations. So I pray and hope it will be well received, and lead to a better understanding in the world as it is today, the role of the U.S. in the world and also the Muslim world which is difficult for us to understand and vice versa.

The Pope will play a role in this search for better understanding between cultures and civilizations and religions. I think he is very much aware of his influence and of his role as Pope to foster peace in the world. It was said at the very beginning of his election that he wanted to be like his predecessor Benedict XV, to work for peace in a difficult time.

Do you think it will be the most important visit of his pontificate so far?

Yes, I would say so; from the perspective of peace in the world I would say it’s his most important visit.

Edward Pentin writes from Rome.


• Birth. June 8, 1944, Lamotte, diocese of Amos, Canada. His father was a school director and had eight children.

• Education. Collège de Berthier, 1958-1959; Ècole Normale of Amos, 1959-1964 (two years of philosophy); University of Laval, Laval (bachelor in education, 1964); Major Seminary of Montréal, Montréal, 1964-1968 (licentiate in theology, 1968); Pontifical University San Tommaso d’Aquino, Rome (licentiate in philosophy, 1974); Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, (doctorate in dogmatic theology, 1983). He speaks French, English, German, Italian and Spanish.

• Priesthood. Ordained, May 25, 1968, Amos, by Gaston Hains, titular bishop of Belesana, coadjutor with right of succession of Amos. Vicar in the parish of Saint-Sauveur de Val-d’Or, 1968-1970. Entered the Society of Priests of Saint-Sulpice, 1972. For ten years, professor and rector of several major seminaries in Colombia. Rector and professor, Major Seminary of Montréal, 1989-1994; and Major Seminary of Edmonton, 1994-1997. Professor, John Paul II Institute of Studies on Marriage and the Family, 1997-2001.

• Episcopate. Elected titular bishop of Agropoli and appointed secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, March 3, 2001. Consecrated, March 19, 2001, patriarchal Vatican basilica, by Pope John Paul II, assisted by Cardinal Angelo Sodasno, secretary of State, and by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Member of the editorial board of the North American edition of the theological journal Rivista Internazionale Communio. Promoted to the metropolitan and primatial see of Québec, November 15, 2002.

• Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of October 21, 2003; received the red biretta and the title of S. Maria in Traspontina, October 21, 2003. Participated in the conclave of April 18 to 19, 2005.