Quebec City, Canada, Oct 29, 2003 / 22:00 pm
Canada’s newest and youngest cardinal is confident Pope John Paul II will be able to continue in his ministry despite his ailing health.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City, acknowledged at a news conference Oct. 28 that the Pope's “state of health is of concern” but he does not doubt that the Pope “will be able to do his job until the end,” reported the Canadian Press.
"He's still able to celebrate mass but you can feel that his strength is diminishing," said Ouellet, who became Canada’s third active cardinal at the ninth consistory in Rome Oct. 21.
The 59-year-old cardinal pointed out that the Pope’s assistants have increasingly had to finish prayers for him during religious ceremonies. The Pope also left a cardinals’ dinner before the end of the meal last week because of fatigue, he said.
Ouellet added that the Pope’s deteriorating health will make the 83-year-old pontiff “less and less able to play a public role”, which may place the Church in a “period of silence.
"But I don't believe the Church will be weakened by this," said Ouellet.
The Sulpician priest became the primate of Canada when he was named archbishop of Quebec City in 2001. He speaks five languages and has taught in seminaries in Colombia and in Edmonton, Alberta.
One of his primary goals as archbishop is to bring young Quebecers back to the faith. He is currently attending the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Que.