Marc Cardinal Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops, is one of the top names being floated to replace Pope Benedict XVI after his surprise resignation announcement.
Ouellet, 68, is a Quebecker who was the Archbishop of Quebec from 2003 to 2010. He was named as one of the possibilities to replace Pope John Paul in 2005, but he wasn’t chosen.
More recently, John L. Allen Jr., a reporter at The National Catholic Reporter, put forward Ouellet’s name as one of his top three choices to become the next pope.
His position as Archbishop of Quebec means “he has a track record in leading the church in a difficult and highly secular environment,” wrote Allen. Also, Ouellet spent 10 years as a missionary in Columbia and he is fluent in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian, meaning he has both the international experience and the language skills needed to lead Catholics around the world.
Ouellet isn’t without his own controversy, however. In 2010 he was forced to defend comments he made about abortion at a news conference, calling it a “moral crime,” and saying that it was as serious as murder, even in the case of rape. Those comments drew condemnation from Quebec politicians and women’s groups.
His older brother, Paul Ouellet, has also been convicted of sexual assault against minors, something which he served 15 months of community service for. In 2009, Paul Ouellet took out a newspaper ad to explain his conviction, saying his only mistake was that he responded to “advances” made by two young people, who were aged 13 and 15.
Controversies aside, online betting site PaddyPower.com is offering 5/2 odds that the next pope will be from Canada.
Pope Benedict XVI’s term will end on Feb. 28 and a new pope will be elected by the end of March.
The fact that the new pontiff could be Canadian also had people talking on Twitter.