Canada’s Cardinal Ouellet among top papal candidates

Feb 12, 2013 | News

The Vatican. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Vatican. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

By Marco Di Meo

A day after Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will be resigning at the end of February, citing health issues, the speculation is underway about who his replacement will be, and a Canadian is seen as a leading contender.

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet is considered a front-runner to become the new Pope.

Ouellet taught philosophy at the Major Seminary of Bogota in Colombia in 1970. In 1972 he studied at the Seminary of Philosophy in Montreal, then in 1974 he studied in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Since 1997 he has been Titular Professor of dogmatic theology at the John Paul II Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

Papal historian Anura Guruge told Humber News that although Ouellet could be a great fit as pope, there are some factors that could work against him.

“He will make a very good pope, the question is the fact that he’s not Italian and the fact that he’s 68 might weigh against him. Those are the only two factors that can be an impediment,” he said.

Guruge said that there might be a push for an Italian pontiff because there hasn’t been one in 35 years.

As well, Guruge said he has heard that many officials in the Vatican were not happy with Benedict’s decision to step down.

“There’s a strong feeling in Italy that his resignation was not the right thing to do,” he said.

Neil McCarthy, the director of public relations for the Archdiocese of Toronto said if Ouellet becomes the next Pope it will be huge news for Canada.

“This will be historical for Canada. There’s only been two non-Italian Popes,” he said, adding that were Ouellet to become supreme leader of the world’s Roman Catholics “it would bring the global church to our doorstep,” McCarthy said.

Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, said in a press release Monday that he is praying for whoever the next pope will be.

“This morning after learning the news, I prayed for the Pope – that he might enjoy a serene and peaceful retirement – and for his successor – that he might effectively lead the Church to proclaim and live the faith in the challenges we have in our time.”

Guruge said Ouellet will benefit from his similarities with Benedict as the 117 cardinals select a new pontiff.

“Ouellet is very much a part of the John Paul II legacy,” he said.

Another factor in determining who will replace Benedict is the fact that this time around the pope will not have died in office.

“The fact that the pope is still alive puts the Cardinal electives in a strange situation, they know that the Pope’s going to be around to know who they elected.”