“I remain skeptical out of convictions and knowledge of the Catholic tradition in the Latin rite, so I think this has to be very much taken care of in the debate,” he continued, adding that he remains open to what will happen during the synod.
Ouellet also noted he knows Pope Francis has mentioned having no intention to change Church practice on priestly celibacy in the Latin rite, but that he has not excluded the possibility of an exception.
The 75-year-old cardinal said he gave Francis two copies of the book and the pope is happy he is weighing in on the debate.
Ouellet, who is from Quebec, Canada, is also president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He was appointed to that position and as head of the Congregation for Bishops in 2010. Prior to becoming a bishop, Ouellet spent years teaching in seminaries in Rome and in South America.
In an interview with EWTN News Nightly Oct. 1, Ouellet explained that there are many reasons why he wrote the book, but one was his experience working with priests and in giving formation.
He said he thought it was a good time to contribute his years of “knowledge, wisdom, and experience” to the Church’s discussion of priestly celibacy, and in the particular context of this month’s Amazon synod, to the debate on “viri probati.”
He said he was also inspired after Pope Francis’ Aug. 4 letter of encouragement to priests and wanted to add to what the pope has said on the topic.
“I think that priestly celibacy, but also religious consecration, is a powerful witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ and to his call to follow him and to leave everything to be with him, and to do what he asks us to do,” Ouellet stated.
“So, for me, that is the very first significance of celibacy, and of priestly celibacy, is to be a witness of the divinity of Christ.”
What he tries to show in “Friends of the Bridegroom,” he said, is “the sacramentality of the Church as a sign of the Trinitarian communion which is participated in by the faithful and believers.”
“I think you will renew the celibacy if the priest has a better sense of his own priesthood,” he explained. “The foundation of this very close link between celibacy and the priesthood is the fact that the priest is in charge of an eschatological ministry, that means, of proclaiming and giving the definitive and ultimate Word of God to the world.”
The cardinal said the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church “must be faithful to its own roots and its own style.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“The link between celibacy and the priesthood in the Latin Church comes from the apostles and it has been kept through the centuries despite times of decadence, of difficulties, of refusal... It’s been always difficult, but it remains an extraordinary witness to the divinity of Christ and to the presence of the Risen Lord among us so that we give him an answer, because he is there, calling us to communion.”
“Celibacy,” he continued, “is a very living reality. And obviously we are requested to be coherent with our commitments and to be faithful to our vows. I think with prayer, with fraternity, and with a sense of the Word of God we can achieve that.”
In the book, Ouellet directly addresses this month’s Amazon synod and the “search of new ways in a missionary context.”
“New missionary strategies are emerging that could have a long-term impact on priestly ministry, either locally or more broadly, given the globalizing influence of a borderless media culture,” he writes.
“Some aspire to the rapid adoption of the pastoral solution of the viri probati—that is, married men, heads of stable families, who could be ordained priests in order to ensure the Eucharistic celebration for dispersed indigenous communities to whom the value of celibacy seems foreign.”
“These prospects may be attractive to some,” he adds, “and cause concern elsewhere, if one considers that elements of ideology and strategy are intertwined to achieve more ambitious and important results at the universal level.”