The Vatican announced on Wednesday that Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet will be the next Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, a key Vatican post that oversees the selection of new bishops throughout the world. In addition, the portfolio is also responsible for scheduling the visits of national bishops every five years with the Holy Father to report on the "state of the church" in a particular country or region, referred to as quinquennial visits.
Cardinal Ouellet was also named President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a homecoming of sorts as the Cardinal previously taught philosophy at the Major Seminary of Botoga, Colombia in the early 1970's, returning to the same formation institution to serve as Rector from 1984 to 1989.
The Cardinal has also spent significant time in Rome, both for studies and as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. He has served on numerous committees and consulted extensively with Pope Benedict XVI in recent years. A full biography of Cardinal Ouellet can be found here.
Cardinal Ouellet also coordinated a most successful International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in 2008, an event that brought thousands of pilgrims from around the world to the birthplace of Canada's first diocese.
This is a most significant appointment for the Cardinal and the Church in Canada. Our thoughts and prayers are with His Eminence as he takes up this new assignment. His leadership and extensive contributions to the church in Canada will be missed yet we know he will have a profound impact on the life of the global church in the days to come.
Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins commented on the Holy Father's announcement:
"The appointment of Cardinal Marc Ouellet as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America is a recognition by the Holy Father of his exceptional qualities as a true spiritual shepherd, whom he has now entrusted with stewardship of the vitally important process through which the bishops of the Church are chosen.
As Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Ouellet has provided Canadian Catholics, and the wider community as well, with a courageous and inspiring example of true Gospel leadership, and now he is being called beyond our country to serve the universal Church.
We will miss his presence as a pastor in our midst, but on behalf of all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto I offer him our congratulations on his appointment, and assure him of our prayers as he begins this new apostolic mission in the service of the Church throughout the world."
Photos: Archdiocese of Quebec