Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
Cardinal bids a bittersweet farewell to Quebec and Canada
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRE, QUEBEC - Cardinal Marc Ouellet bid a fond farewell to Canada at an Aug. 15 Mass, apologizing for anything he may have done to hurt people through his ministry.
"May the God of mercy permit that we say goodbye in peace and reconciliation," Ouellet said as he prepared to leave for his new influential position at the Vatican.
In recent months, Ouellet has faced a wave of negative attacks in the news media for his forthright stance in defence of human life from the time of conception.
"The message of truth is not always welcome; it is a suffering both for those who hear and sometimes for the minister who explains it," he told the 1,400 faithful who packed the basilica shrine to Saint Anne on the feast of the Assumption.
"But God himself showed us that suffering can be a source of life."
"Nevertheless, conscious of my own weaknesses, I ask a pardon from God and from my brothers and sisters for anything that I may have done to hurt them," he said.
Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and former rector of St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, has been appointed prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, a post seen as the third most influential at the Vatican.
A crucial part of Ouellet's new role is to advise the pope on the appointment of bishops around the world.
Waves of applause and shouts of acclamation during an extended standing ovation followed the cardinal's homily. Well-wishers thronged him as he greeted the sick, the elderly and the handicapped in the shrine known for its miraculous healings.
About 30 bishops from across Canada, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Quebec Lt. Gov. Pierre Duchesne, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and other dignitaries attended. The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal and Canada's apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana.
At a reception in Quebec City, many dignitaries paid tribute to Ouellet. Duchesne likened him to a prophet, who like John the Baptist, came to remind Quebeckers of their Christian heritage.
"He invited us to look at our roots, which are very Christian," said Bishop Gerald Lacroix in an interview. "If it was not for the Christian values we received from the missionaries from the founders of our country, we'd be lost here."
Lacroix, an auxiliary bishop under Ouellet, said he will remember all his life what he learned through serving the Church under Ouellet.
Rimouski Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier also served under Ouellet for five years as auxiliary bishop.
"He is a very creative man, he is so humble that he never mentioned a lot of things that he has done," Fournier said, citing his care for the poor, the sick and immigrants.
"He has given voice to a lot of people who didn't have voice in the society and in the Church," he said. "He has helped Catholics to stand up."
While Ouellet is perceived to have lacked support among his brother bishops in Quebec, Fournier said Ouellet had his support and that of others. "He was not a lone ranger."
POINT MAN IN VATICAN
The Canada's military ordinary, Bishop Donald Theriault, said he expected Ouellet would do a "wonderful job" in Rome. "I think it will be a consolation for the Canadian bishops to know we have a point man in the Vatican at the level of overseeing the bishops and their work and postings and nominations."
But the cardinal will be missed in Canada.
"It's a tremendous loss for Canada, losing our great cardinal who has done so much," said Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Collins described Ouellet as an "extraordinary" and "exemplary" bishop who "speaks with clarity and charity."
"He is a model for all of us, what every priest should be and every bishop should be and that's certainly what Cardinal Ouellet is."
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