Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet 

Cardinal Ouellet: Priesthood depends on closeness to God

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Bishops, offers Vatican News an overview of the proceedings from last year's International Symposium "Towards a Fundamental Theology of Priesthood", which were presented on Monday.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, says closeness to Christ and a lively relationship with God, are keys to the priesthood.

In an interview with Vatican News on the sidelines of a press conference presenting the Proceedings of the International Symposium "Towards a Fundamental Theology of Priesthood,” largely organized by the Cardinal, Cardinal Ouellet offered this insight.

The conference, held on Monday morning in Sala Marconi of the Vatican Radio headquarters, centred on the International Symposium, promoted by Cardinal Ouellet and the Centre for Research and Anthropology of Vocations, was held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, from 17 to 19 February 2022.

The Symposium's work was opened by Pope Francis, and was attended by bishops, clergy, laity and religious.

Together they reflected on the themes "Traditions and New Horizons", "Trinity, Mission, Sacredness", and "Celibacy, Charism, Spirituality."

The Proceedings of the Symposium consist of two volumes, and were published in Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, while the English and German will be published in the near future. 

At the press conference on Monday, Cardinal Ouellet announced that these documents are for young people.

"Part of our scientific committee will go to the World Youth Day in Lisbon, where we will do conferences for bishops, chaperones, young people, and will have a place for liturgical and vocational animation," he shared, noting, "We have contacts with the WYD leadership to give the event a vocational slant."

Speaking alongside the Cardinal at the conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J.; Bishop Gianmarco Busca, Bishop of Mantua; and, Sister Linda Pocher, Professor of Fundamental Theology and Mariology at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences 'Auxilium' in Rome.

Following the press conference, Cardinal Ouellet told Vatican News about the results of the Symposium summarized in the Proceedings.

Q: Your Eminence, looking at the Proceedings, what would you say is the main takeaway?

Our main objective is to rediscover, and help the lay people to rediscover, their priestly identity, so that their priestly identity is a meaning for their participation in the liturgy, obviously, but much more than that, their priestly identity is also in their mission in the world, where through charity, faith and hope they share a witness of Christ.

This is a contribution to peace in the world that is also priestly. That's the priestly responsibility of the laity.

Q: What are some of the main points found in these Proceedings?

For priestly ministry, I would say that's a way of telling them that the main goal of your ministry is to sustain and encourage and nurture the priesthood of the baptized.

That's the main point, because that's the reason why they preach the Gospel and they give the sacraments, so that the baptized, the lay faithful, can live in their union with Christ, their search for holiness, and so, have an impact also in their environment, in their social environment.

Q: Cardinal Ouellet, turning to the current context, many speak about the importance of formation also for protection of minors, though we know that there have been scandals. How does this Symposium take into account the current climate and its difficulties?

Yes. The problem of abuses was not ignored by our Symposium, even if it was not the center of our research. The answer to this, to these problems, is formation. That's true: seminary formation, also the lay formation and the religious formation, is where we have to prevent [the abuses]. We must study, and do a good discernment on the personality of the candidates, helping them to discover their own limits.

But more than control, we need a spiritual formation which creates a very lively relationship with God. From there, you receive a grace and help for your moral behavior. And so, it has an impact on the whole ministry.

Listen to our interview with Cardinal Marc Ouellet:

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20 February 2023, 13:38