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Canada’s Cardinal Ouellet ‘relieved’ he wasn’t elected pope

Cardinal Marc Ouellet arrives for a meeting at the Vatican on March 11, 2013.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet is not disappointed that he emerged from the Vatican conclave still a cardinal, another Canadian cardinal says.

Cardinal Ouellet was thought to be one of the top four or five candidates to become pope. The winner, revealed Wednesday evening after the plume of white smoke emerged from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, was Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

But Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop emeritus of Montreal, said Cardinal Ouellet was far from shattered. "I don't think he was disappointed," he said in Rome on Thursday in a news conference with Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who is the third Canadian cardinal. "On the contrary, I think he's relieved."

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Cardinal Ouellet was not at the news conference, which was organized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. A CCCB spokesman said he didn't "anticipate [Cardinal Ouellet] doing any media interviews" on Thursday.

Speaking after the press conference, Cardinal Turcotte, referring to Cardinal Ouellet, said, "I would be surprised if he were sad. You know you have to be a bit foolish to aspire to such a task," referring to the high-pressure job of being pope.

Cardinal Ouellet himself seemed to have reservations about the possibility of becoming pope. In a 2011 interview on Salt and Light, the Canadian Catholic TV channel, he said being pope "would be a nightmare" because of its "crushing responsibility."

Cardinal Collins called the appointment of Cardinal Bergoglio as pope "a novelty" because he is the first pope from Latin America and the first non-European pope in more than 1200 years. But he said that the 115 elector cardinals did not make their pick "in terms in location." Instead, he said, the cardinals wanted to find the candidate whom "God believed to be the one who should be pope."

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