Pope Benedict XVI is set to resign from the papacy on Thurdsay, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Canadian who is currently prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, is rumored as a potential replacement. Here are five facts about the potential first Canadian pope:
Ouellet was born on June 8, 1944 in La Motte near Amos in Abitibi. He is one of eight children, born to a headmaster father and a housewife mother, who received his primary and part of his secondary education in his home parish, and did his college education as well as two years of philosophy at the École Normale of Amos.
According to Ouellet, he found his calling after sustaining a leg injury during a hockey game and age 17. He picked up a book about Saint-Therese of Lisieux while nursing his broken leg, and then began questioning the meaning of life.
2. The Road to Rome
Pope John Paul II personally consecrated Ouellet as an archbishop in 2010, after being created Cardinal-Priest by the same pope in 2003. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to his current position in 2010. He received a PhD at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
3. "I Don't Want This Job"
In June 2011, Ouellet addressed pope speculation, saying that, for him, being Pope "would be a nightmare." He said that while "you can't keep the world from dreaming things up," seeing Pope Benedict's workload at close range makes the prospect of the papacy "not very enviable."
He added, "I see the work the pope has to do. It is a huge responsibility. Nobody campaigns for it."
Ouellet is associated with "Communio," a journal of theology established by Catholics after the Second Vatican Council, and with Hans Urs von Balthasar, a renowned 20th century Swiss theologian. Ouellet has also claimed the Catholic Church is persecuted in contemporary secular Quebec "for telling the truth."
He believes the Catholic Church has become too liberal, saying Catholics have interpreted the teachings of the Second Vatican Council too liberally. He caused controversy in Quebec City when he banned the practice of general absolution — a type of mass-forgiveness ceremony that allows Catholics to avoid the discomfort of confession.
In May 2010, Ouellet stood by his comments that abortion is unjustifiable, "even in the case of rape," and urged the federal government to help pregnant women keep their child. Having earlier applauded Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government for its stance against funding abortions in the developing world, he added, "if they do not want to fund abortion abroad and they do not bring at home more help to women to keep their child, I think they are incoherent."