Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Canadian Cardinal in Rome - Early Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Cardinal Marc Ouellet Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops

Today, the Holy See announced a widely-rumoured appointment, that of the Archbishop of Quebec and Canadian Church's Primate as a close collaborator of the Holy Father heading up the dicastery that prepares files on candidates for episcopal office world-wide (except in mission countries that come under the direction of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples).

He will succeed Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re whose resignation the Holy Father accepted at the same time.

I have had the privilege of being associated with Marc Ouellet during the years we worked with a special committee of seminary formators on a program of integrated human priestly formation. Archbishop Anthony Mancini was also a member of that sub-committee of the CCCB's project that became known as From Pain to Hope, a response to revelations of clerical abuse.

We had only brief contacts while he served in Rome as a professor at the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family and then as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

On his return to Canada after his nomination to Quebec, we met regularly while I served as Pontifical Commissioner for the Fils de Marie, located mainly in his Archdiocese. Always I found him solidly rooted, remarkably welcoming and strongly supportive.

In recent years we collaborated in affirming life through the March for Life, the interests and projects of the Catholic Office for Life and the Family and conversations on other issues--such as Youth in the Church--on the occasion of meetings of the CCCB Permanent Council.

The above photo was taken at the press conference in Quebec on May 26 encouraging governmental leaders to take steps to reduce the number of abortions. We asked our civic leaders to support those facing an unexpected pregnancy explore other options by funding alternatives which affirm life.

Our prayers and best wishes accompany you on your new mission, Eminence!

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Another Canadian Prelate in the News

Yesterday, Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface received the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI

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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Today's optional memorial is in honour of the nameless followers of Christ brutally killed by the mad Emperor Nero as scapegoats for the fire in Rome. The pagan historian Tacitus and St. Clement of Rome tell of a night of horror (August 15, 64 A.D.) when in the imperial parks Christians were put into animal skins and hunted, were brutally attacked, and were made into living torches to light the road for Nero's chariot. From 64 to 314 "Christian" was synonymous with "execution victim."

There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (see Romans 15:20); Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in A.D. 57-58.

There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in A.D. 49-50. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city "caused by the certain Chrestus" [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius's death in A.D. 54. Paul's letter was addressed to a church with members from Jewish and gentile backgrounds.

In July of A.D. 64, more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, a "great multitude" of Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in A.D. 68 at the age of thirty-one.

Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same opposition as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians (Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, OFM).


  1. I am so happy ! Many blessings on His Eminence and assurance of my prayers !

    Msgr. Michel Palud, P.H.

  2. Long live Pope Benedict!!

    (But Papabile Ouellet!)