By Charles Lewis
National Post

The new head of the Roman Catholic Congregation of Bishops, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, said a combination of secrecy in certain corners of the Church and a general degeneration of mores in society at large combined to cause and aggravate the sexual abuse scandal from which the Church is still recovering.

“I think there was a certain culture of secrecy along with an ignorance of the psychological consequences of sexual abuse in parts of the Church in which people were displaced instead of really taking the problem very seriously,” he said in an interview from Quebec City yesterday. “[For those who committed abuse] there was no coherence between their lives and pastoral service.”

Cardinal Ouellet’s new role, which he will shortly take up in Rome, is considered one of the most important internal Vatican positions, perhaps only second to the papacy itself. He will advise Pope Benedict directly on who will make the best bishops, essentially picking those leaders who will guide the Church over next few decades. Those bishops in turn will appoint the new generation of priests.

“My role is to help the Holy Father to provide the best pastoral leadership for the Church. And that’s the big challenge ahead of me, especially in the context of what has gone on. We need people who can teach with eloquence and compassion the moral implications of the Gospel.”

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© National Post, August 19, 2010