Archbishop Thomas Collins

Archbishop Collins - A wise choice

  • January 10, 2012

The title of “Cardinal” derives from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge. When cardinals became integral to the Church many centuries ago, they were likened to hinges that let the gates of the Vatican swing open to the outside world. Cardinals were the hardware that, in a tangible way, connected the people to the Pope and the Pope to the people.

That function — advising the Pope and being his eyes and ears among Catholics worldwide — remains vital today and is why Archbishop Thomas Collins was such an astute selection for the College of Cardinals. As an archbishop in Toronto the past five years and in Edmonton seven years before that, Collins has been a sturdy hinge for the Canadian Church.

Last year The Register was asked to comment for a profile of Collins that ran in the National Post. A reporter was assessing the possibility of Collins rising to cardinal. What we said then is just as apropos today.

We said Collins is humble, he listens, cares and has shown no reluctance to respectfully voice an opinion or take action on important moral and spiritual matters. Faithful and devout, Collins, we said, is an excellent communicator and a staunch defender of the Church but not an excuse-maker for those who dishonour it. Regarding the issues facing the Church, we offered that, more so than many of his contemporaries, Collins seemed to not only grasp the complexity and breadth of the challenges but understood that none of them would fix themselves and that even the best ideas would fail unless they could be effectively communicated and judiciously implemented.

We could have added that he brings a joyful optimism to his pastoral ministry, that he finds grace in authentic Church teaching and, in an increasingly secularized world seemingly intent on pushing God to the sidelines, Collins believes Christians should push back and society should embrace a loving and forgiving God in its daily life.

Pope Benedict XVI obviously recognized these attributes long ago and placed Collins on a career path to the College of Cardinals. That first became apparent in 2006 when he was moved to Toronto to oversee Canada’s largest archdiocese, which by recent tradition is led by a cardinal. That was followed more recently by several papal appointments to important Vatican committees, gaining Collins expertise on several key files.  

Unlike corporations that are constantly reinvented, the Church needn’t bow to the times. But it does require leaders with fresh enthusiasm and new ideas to keep the message alive. A 2,000-year-old gate needs new hinges from time to time.

The appointment of Cardinal-designate Collins is a proud moment for the Church in Canada and the archdiocese of Toronto. He deserves our prayers and congratulations.

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