Canada’s Largest Catholic Diocese Welcomes New Archbishop

By Hilary White
Photos - Steve Jalsevac

Toronto Archbishop Thomas CollinsTORONTO, January 30, 2007 ( – At a 10:30 am Mass today in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto’s Catholic community formally welcomed their new metropolitan archbishop, Thomas Christopher Collins, former Archbishop of Edmonton.

  Archbishop Collins, who turned 60 earlier this month and is a native of Guelph, Ontario, gave an erudite homily, quoting the great 19th century English cardinal, John Henry Newman, St. Thomas More and the Victorian poet Francis Thompson. Archbishop Collins spoke of the “greater reality” that directs ordinary life, a “governing context for what takes place,” in the world in which we live.

  He said, “Even a quick glance at the daily news reveals that we are far from experiencing life as it is meant to be. The Symphony of God’s creation has been disrupted by human pride.”

   Although, he said, the ultimate goal of each life is happiness in heaven, the “New Jerusalem,” the heavenly goal starts in this life on earth. The Archbishop, a scripture scholar specializing in the book of Revelation, offered some practical things Christians and like minded people can do to bring about this right-ordering of human society.

   “We must be attentive,” he said, “to the standard of social justice and of the culture of life. See, judge according to that standard, and act…It is not for us to build heaven on earth, and attempts to do that have often produced more hell than heaven, but we know the standard that must guide us during our brief earthly

Installation of Archbishop Thomas Collins

The Archbishop evoked St. Thomas More, offering him as a model of the Christian citizen, saying, “no earthly state can claim absolute authority.”

  More, Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII was executed when he refused to deny his moral convictions to please the king. The reference to More comes at a time when the relations between Church and state in many countries, including Canada, are at what might easily be described as an all-time low.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Ventura  Collins was more direct on the subject of the growing conflict between secularised states and the Church in his comments to the National Post. In a meeting with the Post editorial board, Collins asserted the rights of Christians to speak their mind in the public square.

   “I’m simply saying that we’re here and we’re part of the community and as issues come up, we are one of the voices in a democratic society.” As though addressing the federal politicians who may soon be seeking re-election, he added, “And we are a voice representing quite a significant group of people.”

  Pointing to the huge volume of material social assistance provided by the Christian community, Collins said, “We are part of society. We’ve been here since the beginning and are massively involved.”

In contrast to the silence on the issue by most of Canada’s Catholic bishops, Archbishop Collins did not hesitate to tell the National Post that he favoured, as a last resort, refusing Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who reject the moral law in such areas as marriage or abortion.

  To the Toronto Sun, Archbishop Collins revealed some of his personal side. He said his favorite book is JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings; his favorite film is the drama Man for All Seasons about St. Thomas More; he favours classical music, his favourite piece of which is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

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