Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tom Collins to be Archbishop of Toronto

According to the Toronto Star, CTV and the Diocese of Edmonton's website, Bishop Tom Collins has been named Archbishop of the arch-diocese of Toronto. Toronto was headed by Cardinal Ambrozic(sp?), who, at age 76, retired one year after the usual retirment age for priests and bishops.

The national coverage of this event is surprising. Usually Catholics do not make it into the news unless they are (a) dissident or (b) sexually assaulting somone (for the record, the same applies to teachers these days). But here we have several nationally syndicated media outlets discussing the appointment of Collins, a little known bishop from Edmonton who will now head Canada's largest, richest, and most culturally diverse diocese, home to some 1.4 million faithful.

I don't know much about Collins, but what I've heard is good. A friend of mine spent some time at the seminary in Edmonton, and told me that Collins was both orthodox and courageous. My parents remember him from his days in the Hamilton diocese, and they too had fond memories. I can only hope and pray that he handles Toronto well; the diocese has been ravaged by media abuse, especially in the past ten years, after the sexual abuse scandals broke. Toronto is also home to two of Canada's most anti-Catholic and most-read newspapers, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. Dissident groups regularly appear with any mention of the Catholic Church, and the homosexual activist movement has its base in the city as well. Orthodoxy and courage, indeed!

Take for example the Toronto Star's article. It barely mentions Collins aside from a little history, gives Ambrozic the title 'controversial', and then spends its final paragraphs quoting the local dissident agitator. According to Joanna Manning of Catholic Network for Women's Equality, who has been 'a long time advocate for the ordination of women', Ambrozic and Collins are 'cut from the same conservative cloth' and 'they are all micro-managed from Rome'. Manning continues ' I actually began to feel sorry for him [Ambrozic] because I don't think he ever came to terms with the kind of heterodox, pluralistic inclusive culture of Toronto'. Clearly Manning herself has never come to terms wih the culture of Catholicism and Christianity.

Despite the difficulties Collins will face, his approach to leading the Toronto archdiocese will be much different than Ambrozic's. Cardinal Ambrozic was a Slovenian emigre, who shot from the hip. He wasn't heterodox, but he wasn't subtle either, and his abrasiveness won him many enemies. Bishop Collins is a born and raised Ontario boy, from Guelph, who worked in the area until he was appointed to the bishophoric of Edmonton. He is a young arch-bishop, and one can assume that if he handles the diocese well, he will soon be called to the College of Cardinals.

Joanna Manning, sadly, will never enjoy that honour.

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