Just before he left for Rome to ask Pope Benedict 16 to come to Quebec for the Eucharistic Congress next summer, Quebec’s Cardinal Ouellet publicly issued a sweeping apology.

His Eminence apologized for the Church’s attitude toward women, Jews, homosexuals and for the widespread sexual abuse of young people in Catholic Church institutions.

But how serious is this public apology? When he sees the Pope this week will the Cardinal bring up the shortage of Canadian priests and ask him to rescind the church-made law of celibacy? Will he ask the Pope to revise Church teaching that gay people are « intrinsically disordered »? Will he point out to the Pope that the theological reasons for not ordaining Catholic women are flimsy?

Unless he does, how much weight should Catholics give to Cardinal Ouellet’s apology?

As The Globe and Mail said in an editorial this morning: « The implicit message is that the church still wants pride of place in Quebec, while refusing to budge on contraception, women’s rights and gay marriage. »



  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    I’m sure Ouellet got all the right photo ops to be raised up the church ladder to be Cardinal & now he’s getting the right ops in order to bring Benedict here hopefully next summer. But that’s all it is — another photo op. Nothing else will change and I agree with the G&M editorial quoted above.

  2. 2
    John Says:

    I agree with Cate. It’s all just window dressing.
    The fact that the good Cardinal is taking heat from both the left (who say he’s being two-faced for offering no solutions for the historical wrongs) and from the right (who say he’s being weak-kneed for apologizing in the first place) is a good indication of how ineffective such grandstanding usually is.

  3. 3
    Barbara Says:

    I think the good Cardinal is profoundly naive. Like the good Pope, he is an academic and out of touch with the mainstream in Quebec. Perhaps he saw the tour by the commission on reasonable accommodation as an opening (along with the upcoming Eucharistic Congress breathing down his neck) as an opportunity to reverse the tide of defection from the Church among the Quebecois. The question about what has changed since 1960 on the side of the hierarchy is a pointed one. The people need pastoral care and that begins with compassion. I hope that is next on his to-do list.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    As in the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance the Church hierarchy is disconnected from the low clergy and the Faithfuls. So, by the way, are our politicians. The lay and clerical elites have a way of telling themselves what they want to hear and then believe it. It is the same with a kind of kinky journalism when one paper prints a rumour picked up by a second one reprinted as fact by a third one and so on.
    The Church has already changed deeply but the higher ups do not yet know it.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    I don’t like it when someone takes it upon himself to apologize on my behalf without consulting me. After all, I may have meant just exactly what I said/did, and have no intention of apologizing.

    My guess is that the pope ain’t gonna like it, either.

    And while Ouellet’s heart may be in the right place on this issue, he doesn’t have the clout to back up his thoughts with actual deeds. He may just have pinned himself to the papal dart board’s bullseye.

    The fallout from this should be most interesting.

  6. 6
    Chimera Says:

    Neil: I don’t usually link blogs to blogs in comments, but I just came across this related post by Canadian Cynic.

  7. 7

    Thanks, Chimera. Canadian Cynic has an interesting blog.

  8. 8
    SUZANNE Says:

    I think the apology wasn’t wrong in a moral sense, but from a PR pov it was bad politics. Why apologize to people who won’t accept your apology? It’s ridiculous. The Catholic Church is not sorry for its doctrines– that’s what the elites really want to hear, and they’re not going to get that.

    I wish the Church would get a heck of a lot less apologetic and more assertive. Even though Cardinal Ouellet is the most assertive of all the Quebec bishops, he’s still too accommodating with the secular world.

  9. 9
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Suzanne, In Québec the « secular » world does not want to go back to the Duplessis era when you needed two things to get a decent job: A letter from your parrish priest and one from your Union Nationale M.P. or patron.
    In those years the Church was most assertive. The Lay movement was a reaction to this. Unfortunately we have thrown the baby away with the bath water. We may want the baby back but most certainly not the bath water.

  10. 10
    SUZANNE Says:

    So don’t use the bath water.

    In the US, there are pockets of orthodoxy. I don’t see a Duplessiste takeover any time soon in any region.

    To me, the issue is orthodoxy and teaching the faith as it is formulated, not making it up as we go along. We are talking about Divine Revelation after all, not the latest pop psychology fad.

  11. 11
    Barbara Says:

    As Paul advised in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prphets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

    Following every pop psych or the latest cultural fad is not to be recommended, I certainly agree. However, closing one’s mind to the winds of the Spirit is also to be avoided. Not necessarily dabble in, but give things an honest and fearless test, take from things what is good and leave behind that which is evil. You need an open, compassionate mind and heart with which to listen in order to do that. A closed mind may shut out the Spirit. There is a balance to be achieved.

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