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Will Toronto’s Archbishop Collins be named a Cardinal soon?

In Canada on October 2, 2010 at 14:00

Will Toronto’s Archbishop Collins be named a Cardinal soon?

Tim Fraser for National Post

Tim Fraser for National Post

Archbishop Thomas Collins.

  October 1, 2010 – 6:04 pm

Speculation is growing that Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, the head of the country’s largest Roman Catholic community, could be named a Cardinal in the next few months.

The appointment would follow a 60-year-old tradition of Toronto archbishops being made cardinals and if the rumours prove to be true it would mean that Archbishop Collins, now 63, would be involved in voting for the next pope after Benedict and perhaps even the pope beyond that.

“In a nutshell, [Archbishop] Collins is one of the most prayerful, unpretentious, generous, happy and holy prelates I’ve ever been blessed to know,” Rocco Palmo, one of the top Church analysts in North America, told the National Catholic Reporter. “That he’s gone on to lead Canada’s largest and most diverse local church — its Catholic population quickly approaching two million — never ceases to be astonishing, simply because he’s remained his priceless, earthy, clear and charitable self throughout.”

The world of the Vatican is a stew of speculation on any number of topics, but the appointment of Archbishop Collins, sources say, seems to be the logical conclusion of a series of events coming together at once.

Worldwide, the Church normally has around 125 cardinals but is now short of that number by nearly 20. Since cardinals advise the Pope on the global Church, there is need to bring greater representation to the Vatican. As well, given the age of Pope Benedict and the need for the Church to be ready at any time to consider a new pope if the current pontiff should die, there is an urgency to make appointments soon.

Appointments could come in November or after January when four more Cardinals will no longer be considered active. There is no regular time for appointments and there is no guarantee that even obvious candidates will be selected. Cardinals will often stay in their home country but could be called to the Vatican permanently.

It is known that Pope Benedict regards Archbishop Collins with great faith and confidence, a respect that was reinforced when he gave him the Toronto job in 2007.

Since 1946, every Toronto archbishop save one has gone on to be a cardinal. In January, retired Toronto Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic turned 80, which means he is no longer allowed to vote in papal conclaves.

But aside from circumstances, insiders say Archbishop Collins has shown leadership in the Church at a time when many thought Catholic leaders were stumbling.

Just before Easter, he told 400 priests at St. Michael’s Cathedral not to describe the fury over abuse scandals as an invention of the media.

“We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that almost all priests serve faithfully — though that fact is a grace that gives joy to the Catholic people,” Archbishop Collins said in his homily. “But even one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priests have done unspeakable evil.”

He told reporters later that day:

“We should be grateful for the attention which the media devotes to the sins of the Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful. That attention is a profound tribute to the priesthood … People instinctively expect holiness in a Catholic priest, and are especially appalled when he does evil.”

The story made national and international news.

Even The New York Times, not always known to for its friendliness towards the Church, listed Archbishop Collins as one of the Catholic leaders who “gets it.”

In June, he was appointed along with nine other bishops to help investigate the situation in Ireland and report on what the Irish Church’s response has been to the sexual abuse crisis, another sign of the Vatican’s respect for his judgment and leadership.

“He is humble, he listens, he cares and has shown no reluctance to respectfully voice his opinion or take action,” said Jim O’Leary, editor of the Toronto-based Catholic Register, said if Archbishop Collins was made a Cardinal it would be a great benefit to global Catholicism.

“He is a staunch defender of the Church but is not an excuse-maker for those who dishonour it.

“More so than many Church leaders, he seems to not only fully understand the many challenges of the modern Church but grasps that none of the problems will fix themselves and that even the best ideas will fail unless you can effectively communicate them.”

At present the only cardinal in Canada is Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal. Just this past summer, Cardinal Marc Ouellet left Quebec City to take up the critical position of advising Pope Benedict on the appointment of bishops.

Archbishop Thomas Collins

  • Born Jan. 16, 1947, in Guelph, Ont. The only son and the youngest of three siblings. His father was the circulation manager of the Guelph Mercury, his mother was a legal secretary.
  • In 1973 he received  two degrees, a M.A. (English) from the University of Western  Ontario and a Bachelor of Theology from St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ont.
  • Ordained to priesthood in May, 1973
  • He has a speciality in sacred scripture and the Book of Revelations in particular and also holds a doctorate in theology
  • Speaks English, French, Italian and Latin
  • Made Bishop of St. Paul, Alta., in 1997
  • Made Archbishop of Edmonton in 1999
  • Appointed Archbishop of Toronto January 2007
  • Posted in: Holy Post  Tags: , ,

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