Bishops “need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the newly-appointed prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, in an interview this week.
“We have to dare to speak to the deep heart, where the Spirit of the Lord is touching people beyond what we can calculate,” he told Canadian Catholic News’ Deborah Gyapong.
During Cardinal Ouellet’s eight years as the archbishop of Quebec City and primate of Canada, he has become known as one of the country’s greatest defenders of faith, life, and the family.
This past spring he drew sharp criticism, from within and outside the Church, after he reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of unborn life, even in cases of rape. He later unapologetically reiterated his views on abortion in a press conference arranged to address the controversy.
Earlier this week the head of the Quebec Bishops Assembly, Bishop Martin Veillette, suggested in a critical interview that while Ouellet has desired to “emphasize certain points of view that he considers important,” “There are times when it is more important to keep silent than to speak.
“There are things like that, sometimes, that you need to know how to manage,” he said. “It’s a bit delicate.”
But in the recent interview, Ouellet said that in addition to fearlessly preaching the teachings of the Church, bishops must embrace them deeply. “Then you have the power of conviction,” he said.
“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 added.
The cardinal, further, said the Church needs what Gyapong called a “new intellectual dynamism” 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. “We have suffered from this mentality of dissent” that is “still dominating the intelligentsia.”
“There is no real discipleship there, real discipleship,” he added. “The discipleship that is emerging is from those who believe and who really love the Church.”
The former Primate of Canada and Archbishop of Quebec City celebrated his farewell Mass on Sunday, the feast of the Assumption, at Ste. Anne de Beaupre. The church was packed with over 2,000 faithful, with hundreds others being turned away for lack of space. After his homily, he was congratulated with a lengthy standing ovation.
In his new position as head of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Ouellet will assist the pope in choosing the next generation of the world’s bishops.
In that role, he told Gyapong, he will seek out bold “men of faith” with “the guts to help people live it out.”