For a while, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet was considered one of the front-runners to replace Pope Benedict XVI after the pontiff announced his surprise resignation.

In recent weeks, as the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church gathered before this week’s conclave to choose Saint Peter’s successor, Ouellet’s odds have fallen. Irish betting house Paddypower.com has pegged his chances at 10/1, while giving best odds to Cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy and Peter Turkson of Ghana.

As L. Ian MacDonald notes on a piece about Ouellet’s diminished chances, there’s a saying in Rome that he who enters conclave as pope leaves as a cardinal.

Still, we won’t know for sure until the white puff of smoke signals the election of the new pope. Until then, anything is possible for Cardinal Ouellet. Here are 13 things you may not know about Canada’s papal contender.

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  • For a while, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet was considered one of the front-runners to replace Pope Benedict XVI after the pontiff announced his surprise resignation. While his odds have fallen, Ouellet is still in the running. Here are 13 things you may not know about Canada's papal contender.

  • 1. Born In Quebec

    Cardinal Marc Ouellet was born on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Ouellet">June 8, 1944, in the Quebec town of La Motte</a>. He was the third of eight children (six boys and two girls) and ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Amos on May 25, 1968. (<em>Photo: Graziella Ouellet, 90 year old mother of Cardinal Marc Ouellet at her home in La Motte, Quebec on Feb 13, 2013.</em>)

  • 2. Playing With Fire

    As a child, Ouellet nearly <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/10/well-take-a-pope-but-would-prefer-a-brother-cardinal-marc-ouellets-family/">burned down a barn</a> while playing with matches. <em>(Photo: Marc Ouellet, right, is seen fishing with his younger brother Gilles in this 1956 family photo.)</em>

  • 3. Hockey Is Not His Religion

    At 17, after injuring his leg while playing hockey, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Ouellet">Ouellet found inspiration in the story</a> of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She was a French Carmelite nun known as "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9r%C3%A8se_of_Lisieux">The Little Flower of Jesus</a>" who died in 1897, at the age of 24, of tuberculosis. <em>(Photo: Marc Ouellet, left, is seen next to his brother Louis, an unidentified cousin, and his father Pierre, left to right in this 1958 family photo.)</em>

  • 4. The Family

    Most of his siblings <a href="http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/02/23/a-canadian-pope-part-1-the-word-on-marc-ouellet/">aren’t practising Catholics</a> and two of his sisters are divorced.

  • 5. His Colombia Mission

    Ouellet spent <a href="http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/bishops/list-of-cardinals/1644-biography-marc-cardinal-ouellet">11 years in Colombia as a missionary and teacher</a> at seminaries in Bogota, Manizales and Cali.

  • 6. He's Fluent In Six Languages

    Ouellet speaks<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/03/10/cardinal-marc-ouellet/1976903/"> six languages</a>: French, English, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. <em>(Photo: In this Oct. 21, 2003 file photo, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, Archbishop of Quebec, wearing the three-cornered biretta hat, kisses the hand of Pope John Paul II, during the consistory in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.)</em>

  • 7. He Apologized

    In 2007, in a letter published in Quebec newspapers, Ouellet <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Ouellet">apologized for past errors</a> of the Church in Quebec, including "anti-Semitism, racism, indifference to First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals."

  • 8. His Brother Was Convicted

    Ouellet’s brother, Paul, was convicted in 2009 of sexual assault involving two underage girls in the 1980s and early 1990s. Paul Ouellet took out newspaper <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/10/well-take-a-pope-but-would-prefer-a-brother-cardinal-marc-ouellets-family/">ads to explain the assaults</a>, The National Post reports.

  • 9. He Was Lambasted For Abortion Comments

    In May 2010, at a pro-life rally, Cardinal Ouellet called abortion a moral crime, even after rape. He was lambasted by critics who complained that he was out of touch with Quebec society. Quebec’s association of bishops distanced itself from him and issued a statement <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebeckers-cool-to-cardinal-ouellets-papal-candidacy/article9563750/?service=mobile">calling for a rational discussion</a>, The Globe and Mail reports. Photo: Cardinal Marc Ouellet responds to media questions over comments he made on abortion, May 26, 2010 in Quebec City. Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast, left, looks on.

  • 10. He Was Quebec's Top Catholic

    From 2002 to 2010, Ouellet was the <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/03/05/cardinal_marc_ouellet_prelate_prepares_for_possibility_of_becoming_pope.html">Archbishop of Quebec City</a> and Primate of Canada. <em>(Photo: Cardinal Marc Ouellet blesses a young male during his farewell Mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica, 45 minutes east of Quebec City, on Sunday, August 15, 2010, after he was named Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.)</em>

  • 11. His Views On The Papacy

    In 2011, Ouellet said that being Pope "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Ouellet">would be a nightmare</a>," citing the "crushing responsibility" of the office and the workload of Pope Benedict XVI.

  • 12. His Work Behind The Scenes

    The Times of London reports that Ouellet brokered the recent <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/01/canadian-cardinal-marc-ouellet-reportedly-helped-broker-resignation-of-scandal-plagued-u-k-cardinal/">resignation of U.K. Cardinal Keith O’Brien</a> after priests reportedly came forward to him with allegations the senior cleric had made sexual advances. <em>(Photo: Former Cardinal Keith O'Brien stands in his office at his official residence on February 27, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.)</em>

  • 13: He's Too Canadian?

    Stephen Colbert recently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/13/stephen-colbert-pope_n_2680222.html">dismissed the idea of Ouellet as the next pope</a> on his hit comedy show The Colbert Report, suggesting that the cardinal’s fatal flaw was that he’s Canadian. “The pope cannot be polite,” Colbert quipped. “ 'Sorry, but I think God might not want you to use a condom, eh.' ”


1. Cardinal Marc Ouellet was born on June 8, 1944, in the Quebec town of La Motte. He was the third of eight children (six boys and two girls) and ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Amos on May 25, 1968.

2. As a child, Ouellet nearly burned down a barn while playing with matches.

3. At 17, after injuring his leg while playing hockey, Ouellet found inspiration in the story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She was a French Carmelite nun known as "The Little Flower of Jesus" who died in 1897, at the age of 24, of tuberculosis.

4. Most of his siblings aren’t practising Catholics and two of his sisters are divorced.

5. Ouellet spent 11 years in Colombia as a missionary and teacher at seminaries in Bogota, Manizales, and Cali.

6. Ouellet speaks six languages: French, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

7. In 2007, in a letter published in Quebec newspapers, Ouellet apologized for past errors of the Church in Quebec, including "anti-Semitism, racism, indifference to First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals."

8. Ouellet’s brother, Paul, was convicted in 2009 of sexual assault involving two underage girls in the 1980s and early 1990s. Paul Ouellet took out newspaper ads to explain the assaults, The National Post reports.

9. In May 2010, at a pro-life rally, Cardinal Ouellet called abortion a moral crime, even after rape. He was lambasted by critics who complained that he was out of touch with Quebec society. Quebec’s association of bishops distanced itself from him and issued a statement calling for a rational discussion, The Globe and Mail reports.

10. From 2002 to 2010, Ouellet was the Archbishop of Quebec City and Primate of Canada.

11. In 2011, Ouellet said that being Pope "would be a nightmare," citing the "crushing responsibility" of the office and the workload of Pope Benedict XVI.

12. The Times of London reports that Ouellet brokered the recent resignation of U.K. Cardinal Keith O’Brien after priests reportedly came forward to him with allegations the senior cleric had made sexual advances.

13. Stephen Colbert recently dismissed the idea of Ouellet as the next pope on his hit comedy show The Colbert Report, suggesting that the cardinal’s fatal flaw was that he’s Canadian. “The pope cannot be polite,” Colbert quipped. “ 'Sorry, but I think God might not want you to use a condom, eh.' ”

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