Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
Ouellet looks for men with faith and guts
Congregation for Bishops prefect wants prelates who would be audacious in proposing the Word
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
QUEBEC CITY - In his new duties helping the pope choose bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet will be looking for bold "men of faith" who have "the guts to help people live it out."
A bishop has to lead the community, so he needs a deep supernatural vision as well as the capacity to assess the political, cultural and sociological context, said the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Above all, a bishop must be "audacious in proposing the Word and in believing in the power of the Word and the power of the Spirit," Ouellet said in an Aug. 16 interview.
"We have to dare to speak to the deep heart, where the Spirit of the Lord is touching people beyond what we can calculate," said Ouellet. "We need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received."
Eight challenging years as archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada have forged Ouellet's vision of the episcopacy. During that time he faced preaching the Good News in a culture that has fallen away from its Christian roots.
Being faithful to Catholic teaching meant opposition from Quebec's deeply secularized, post-Catholic society. At the same time he had the challenge of making sure his priests were following him. "They are also in a situation of tension," he said. "This is a difficult balance."
Ouellet also stressed the importance of solidarity among bishops.
"We are in a world where the Christian heritage is being strongly contested, so we have to recognize that and propose it better, though not through an attempt to restore the past," he said.
"We have to tell people about the crucified and risen Lord, who is shaping the Church today, with people faithful to his word, to his divine presence and to the community he wants to see living of his Spirit."
A bishop must always take a personal approach, he said. Bishops not only must state dogmatic positions, they must believe in them deeply, "then you have the power of conviction."
"If you state it only formally and in the end you do not really want to see it applied because you don't believe that it is possible that people accept it, you are in trouble for the transmission of the message," he said.
Bishops must also be close to people, he said. "The Lord has given us his own heart to be a presence of his heart in the midst of the people," the cardinal said.
Ouellet came into Quebec eight years ago facing some suspicion as the "man from Rome" sent to set things straight.
He leaves Quebec beloved by many of the faithful, not only in Quebec but also across Canada. Already speculation is growing on who might replace him as archbishop of Quebec. In the next two years, nine or 10 bishops in that province reach retirement age.
"We have to have a rebirth of the Church in Quebec, and it will come," Ouellet said. "My prayer and my wish would be obviously that we have living communities with good priests, well-trained intellectually, spiritually, with a sense of deep commitment to Christ, of evangelical life for themselves and love for the people."
The cardinal also called for a new intellectual dynamism, especially a reform of education to "recapture the spirit of Christianity and "create a new Christian culture."
"We need intellectuals for that - theologians, philosophers, Christians who really believe in the Gospel and share the doctrine of the Church on moral questions," he said.
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