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Cardinal Ouellet - photo by Alessandro Gisotti

INTERVIEW: Cardinal Ouellet: Dicasteries of the Holy See Must Communicate Better Among Themselves & Women Need to Have Greater Role in Priestly Formation

Responding to Zenit and journalists in Poznan, Discusses What Is Needed to Protect Minors, Current ‘Crisis’ & ‘Rebellion’, Europe, and Synod

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, has stressed that much must be done to combat this ‘crisis’ in the Church of sexual abuses and the cover ups, noting this involves better coordination among Vatican offices and women playing a bigger role in the formation of priests.

In an interview with Zenit and other journalists in Poznan, Poland, during the CCEE (Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences) Plenary Assembly, Sept. 15, 2018, the Canadian Cardinal made this observation when asked about the appropriate ways to prevent or manage these situations in the future.

In the interview, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops also reaffirms the importance of responsibility and regaining credibility effectively, but also of the role of bishops to support the mission of the Church, and how this involves not supporting ‘unjust attacks’ on the Pope. He also observes we are seeing at this time somewhat of a ‘rebellion.’

In the interview, Cardinal Ouellet also speaks about the upcoming Synod on Young People in the Vatican and why solidarity in Europe is not just important for the continent, but for the entire world.

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ZENIT (Deborah Castellano Lubov): Why is working toward solidarity in Europe necessary for Europe’s own functioning and for the world as a whole?

Cardinal Ouellet: I am delighted to participate at least in a part of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences., It seems to me that this reflection helps to create a culture of solidarity and to encourage volunteering and recognize as well the Church’s contribution in volunteering. Solidarity is a fundamental Christian value that we must develop in our community, in Christian communities. They need to be enlightened by charity and openness to others. They must demonstrate the lived brotherhood, and that makes up part of the mission of the Church. But at the same time, we need to have a vast open horizon, namely all the other people who are also part of the big human family, with a human witness of solidarity, volunteering and mutual help, with respect to welcoming. It is a reflection in progress, that is very promising.

ZENIT (Deborah Castellano Lubov): How is Europe to help transmit the faith to the young, as it seems more and more are disinterested in their Christian roots? In this context, what is your wish for the upcoming synod on young people?

Cardinal Ouellet: Thanks for this question. Obviously, there is a worry in the Church for the future of the transmission of the faith. All the reflection in the Church on the family was aimed towards this objective. First of all, like Pope Francis demonstrates trust in youth, I think the synod, first of all, should express the trust of the Church in young people. This is the most fundamental thing. They have resources, and even visions and abilities as “prophets”, and if they feel supported, here is the Church. That is the first point. Second point. To me it seems there should be a reflection on education. Education in family, in schools, in universities, concretely education, because the young people need models, witnesses, encouragement, but also of parameters, of correction, to go ahead. These are the two points.

ZENIT (Deborah Castellano Lubov): The pedophilia scandal in the Church, throughout various countries, is all over the news. The presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences have been summoned to Rome, Feb. 21-24, 2018, by the Pope for a summit on the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. The Church has already done a lot to face this scourge, but it seems that it is never enough. In your opinion, what has to change to combat it effectively and restore real credibility and trust? What concrete, effective measures must be produced at this meeting?

Cardinal Ouellet: That is a big question. Certainly, with the recent news there is a growing awareness of the gravity of this problem of abuse in the Church. The reports are obviously covering many years, and sometimes we have the impression that nothing has been done recently, when much has been done recently to combat that. But I think something more needs to be done within the Church, and with the formation of priests and certainly more prudence in the choice of bishops. I would say that we would need participation of more women in formation of priests for teaching, for discernment, and for discernment of candidates, for the balance of effectiveness. I think we need more reflection here. The Pope has summoned to Rome all the presidents of the bishops’ conferences, to address in a very broad perspective, this problem. It seems to be at the moment, an American, or Anglo problem, but it is a human problem. It is universal. The Church is very much at the center of attention at this moment, but the problem is much broader than the Church. I hope that the effort that is being done to address the problem by clergy will help to address the problems that exist in society.

ZENIT (Deborah Castellano Lubov): Your Eminence, is there something perhaps in the selecting or vigilance of bishops that you recognize should be improved? Some area that could have been weak and is necessary to improve?

Cardinal Ouellet: On the question on vigilance, as you know, there is the motu proprio of Pope Francis “As a Loving Mother”. So, we need to address the issue, of bad governance of bishops on these questions. This is already something that is implemented, so we are the beginning of this implementation. We need to do some sort of criteria. We also need to coordinate among the various dicasteries of the Holy See to make sure that we, between the Oriental Churches, Propaganda Fide, the Congregation of Bishops, and the Secretariat of State and so on, that we work in the same direction with the same parameters, to apply this and be effective. But I think we will accelerate now, with the recent events, we will accelerate and we hope to develop something more effective.

VATICAN RADIO (Alessandro Gisotti): As Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and as a pastor, what would you say to the many faithful who feel betrayed many people feel betrayed, sad and angered by these scandals? 

Cardinal Ouellet: The faithful see that their pastors need prayers and need to be supported and encouraged. In recent times, they have been strongly under attack. Solidarity must exist within the Church but it is also necessary for people to express their anger, their dissatisfaction, their frustration in complete freedom. It is the way for these problems to be treated. I believe that pastors must not only listen but also invite the people who have suffered to manifest themselves, because if these wounds are not expressed, they will destroy people’s lives. We have seen the suffering and the consequences of abuse in recent years and that the damage is enormous and is lasting in life. There is a work of reparation, of reconciliation that must be carried out.

EWTN (Andrea Gagliarducci): So far, we have been speaking about abuse. The Pope is summoning the world’s bishops together to discuss this in February. As Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, what do you wish to say to the bishops of the world?

Cardinal Ouellet: We are facing a crisis in the life of the Church, a crisis at the level of leadership, of bishops, and also to a certain extent of rebellion. This is a very serious matter that has to be dealt with in a very serious way, not only in a political way. So, I think for example when there is a direct attack against the Holy Father, I think it is a very bad example and a very serious offense. And I do not think it is responding positively because it is also an unjust attack recently. It was part of my message, to the bishops of CCEE, to express solidarity with the Holy Father. It is a conditio sine qua non of solidarity between ourselves as bishops to bring forward the mission of the Church, and I am pleased to recognize that there is something being prepared on the part of this body, of the bishops’ conference, to express to the Holy Father this solidarity in this current context.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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