Five Canadian archbishops receive their palliums from Pope June 29

  • June 28, 2007

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican anticipated the July 1 celebration of Canada Day with a ceremony highlighting the ministry and authority of five new Canadian archbishops.

The archbishops of “the true North, strong and free” knelt before Pope Benedict XVI June 29 and received a woolen band symbolizing the responsibility they share with him of shepherding the church’s flock. They were joined by 41 other archbishops from around the world.

The five Canadians are Archbishops Thomas Collins of Toronto; Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, Alta.; Richard Smith of Edmonton; Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa; and Brendan O’Brien of Kingston, Ont.

With more than 1.8 million Catholics, Toronto is Canada’s largest archdiocese. Ottawa is the nation’s capital and Kingston is the oldest English-speaking diocese in the country.

According to Vatican figures, the five archdioceses represented by the new archbishops include close to 2.8 million of Canada’s almost 14 million Catholics.

For three of the five archbishops, the ceremony may have caused a sense of deja vu same wool band, different Pope. When a pope asks an archbishop to change archdioceses, the pope gives him a new pallium.

Pope John Paul II gave Collins a pallium after he was named to Edmonton; Prendergast got his first pallium for being archbishop of Halifax; and O’Brien received the wool stole after he went to the archdiocese of St. John’s, Nfld.

“Receiving the pallium is a wonderful celebration,” Collins told Catholic News Service. “I’m honoured.”

The archbishop travelled to Rome with his two sisters, and a dozen friends and Toronto faithful were expected to join him.

“There is no big diocesan delegation,” he said. “But it is more than last time when my entourage was zero, ‛moi,’ just me.”

Collins said the fact that five of Canada’s 17 Latin-rite archdioceses received new archbishops over the past year is “a fluke, a coincidence. It’s a matter of demographics” based on retirement age.

The 46 archbishops from around the world scheduled to participate in the papal Mass make up the largest single group receiving the pallium in more than a decade. They include five archbishops each from Canada, Mexico, India and Brazil.

That there are five Canadians “is extraordinary,” said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, head of Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation.

“It is a transformation of the episcopacy from coast to coast,” he said. “It is a rejuvenation of the Canadian church.”

As for the lack of fanfare with which the Canadians, except for Salt + Light Television, will mark the event, Rosica said it is simply part of the “unabashed simplicity” of the Canadian bishops.

Salt + Light broadcasted the Mass live. Prendergast arrived in Rome only one day before the Mass; he was installed as archbishop of Ottawa June 26.

O’Brien will be able to wear his new pallium to his July 25 installation Mass in Kingston.

See also Archdicocese of Toronto and The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

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