By Hilary White

  TORONTO, January 31, 2007 ( – Referred to by interviewer John Moore as the Wayne Gretzky of the Canadian Catholic Church, just installed Archbishop Thomas Collins spoke and took questions today on prominent Toronto radio station CFRB.

  In a fine theological distinction, Archbishop Collins said that Catholic believers have “no reason for optimism, but great reason for hope.” Addressing the question of evangelization and what he would say to agnostics, Collins encouraged those struggling with issues of faith to be determined in seeking the truth honestly.

“I would invite anyone who says I don’t know what the ultimate answers are to continue their inquiry. Keep searching. I hope that they would come to see the reality we experience in Christ,” he told his self-professed agnostic interviewer.

  When asked about the apparent drop in numbers of Church attendance, Collins replied, “If Catholics really appreciated what’s at the heart of our faith, they would flock to be there.”

  Most research shows that Catholics who attend church regularly are both faithful to moral teachings on abortion and sexuality issues and also happier and healthier both psychologically and physically.

  A caller, a former Catholic, complained that the Church had become timid in the presentation of the truth. Collins replied, “I think the Church needs to be passionate. Look at John Paul II. Is he wishy washy? Is Pope Benedict wishy washy? No.”

“The Catholic Church,” he said, “is rarely criticized for not being clear, strong or forceful enough. You’re very right that we need to proclaim the gospel forcefully.”

  Moore brought up the $64,000 question asking whether the Archbishop would refuse Communion to politicians who act against Catholic moral teaching.

  Collins responded that his first duty was to teach the faith and said he would do everything possible to bring that person to the truth. A Catholic politician, he said, has to be a “whole person” and should not be living a double life with his conscience “on one side and life on another.”

  Citing St. Thomas More, the 16th century English statesman and philosopher who died on the block rather than compromise his Catholic conscience, Archbishop Collins said a Catholic politician’s “allegiance lies with his conscience.”

  A Catholic politician, he said, who is “presenting views which are against the culture of life, against justice, against life itself,” must be helped to see the truth enshrined in the Catholic and natural moral law. 

  When it came down to a politician who refused to change his position, Collins did not rule out excommunication. “If I were to excommunicate someone, I would do it very thoughtfully and with great prayer,” he said.