Cardinal Thomas Collins asked that people pray for cardinals "in their profound mission they have now as cardinals, that is to elect the successor to Peter." Photo by Michael Swan

Papal resignation catches Cardinal Collins by surprise

  • February 11, 2013

TORONTO - Surprise and then prayer was Cardinal Thomas Collins' reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation from the Throne of Peter Feb. 11.

"It is a time for us to give thanks to God for the tremendous leadership of Pope Benedict, who with clarity and charity, who speaks with profound insight into the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the heart of our Christian life," Collins told journalists at the end of the noon Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral mere hours after the world learned of the Pope's intent of stepping away from the papacy.

Collins, who will be among the electors of the next pope, asked that people pray for cardinals "in their profound mission they have now as cardinals, that is to elect the successor to Peter."

It was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick that the Pope announced he had determined he did not have the strength to carry on past Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.

Collins deflected question after question about who might make a good Pope.

"I don't think this is a time to profile the next pope," he said.

Before voting begins the important questions before the College of Cardinals are about the needs and challenges of the Church today.

"There are Catholics, Christians being shot," he said. "There are Christians suffering persecution. There are in the secularized world — you might say the European world, North America — there are challenges of re-evangelization there. In other parts of the world there are other challenges."

While the possibility of a papal resignation has existed in canon law, the fact that it hasn't been exercised since Pope Celestine V in 1294 does mean that a retired pope is a new situation.

"It does affect the dynamic," Collins said.

However surprised, even shocked, people may be, there's nothing about the resignation of a pope that should shake anyone's faith, Collins said.

"When we say Holy Father, we truly mean the adjective 'holy,' ” said Collins in his homily.
Collins praised Benedict for his "firmness of faith and gentleness of spirit." He urged people to be grateful for Pope Benedict's leadership.


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