Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 25, 2005
Archbishop celebrates new pope
Archbishop Collins calls Pope Benedict 'a faithful , holy man'
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
"What a wonderful pope."Archbishop Thomas Collins, along with some two dozen priests and archdiocesan staff, gathered to watch the April 19 televised announcement that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany had been elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
After only four ballots, Ratzinger, known as the late Pope John Paul II's closest adviser, was elected the new pontiff.
Collins was visibly pleased at the announcement, throwing his hands into the air before clapping them together.
He thinks the new pope, often regarded a staunch conservative and disciplinarian, has been maligned in the media because he is foremost a man of truth.
"I'm delighted he was chosen by the cardinals because he has shown profound love of the Lord with a deep understanding of the faith," Collins said. "He is a very humble and gentle man; a brilliant theologian. I think the fast election shows solid support for him. This is an occasion of great joy for the Church."
Collins said to have so many people gather in a Catholic Pastoral Centre boardroom was "tremendous." He said the naming of the pope was a moment of unity for the Church.
"We had an empty feeling celebrating Mass the last couple of weeks when we did not have the name of the new pope. To get a sense of Pope John Paul's illness, death and funeral is to be conscious of this significance."
Soon after the announcement, the pope said he was just a humble worker in the vineyard. Although he has yet to meet him, Collins said this accurately portrays the essence of Ratzinger.
"Conservative? Liberal? Moderate? This just shows the minds of the commentators. Pope Benedict is a faithful, holy man," Collins said.
"The pope, above all, is to be faithful in fidelity to Jesus Christ. You want a shepherd who cares for the flock, not one who just blows with the winds. And that is who we have here."
Holy Spirit's choice
Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil first met Ratzinger during a month-long bishops' synod in Rome in 1980. MacNeil described him as "gracious" and was left with a feeling he could contact him at any time.
"He is the man God wants to be our pope. In faith, we believe the cardinals did a lot of praying and discussing before they decided, with the Holy Spirit, this is the man to lead us as pope."
"He was friendly, personable and a little bit shy. At one time, I had some problems I wanted to discuss with him. He was very helpful and when they were resolved very quickly, he asked if I had anything else I would like to talk about."
MacNeil said he was prepared to accept whomever became pope as a number of cardinals would have been an excellent choice. And having met Ratzinger a number of times, he said he will be happy with the selection.
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry took Prime Minister Paul Martin to task last year by using a 2002 document written by Ratzinger that outlined the obligations and responsibilities of a Catholic politician. Henry thought Martin, while proclaiming himself a devout Catholic, wavered on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.
"A bonus for us bishops is that by reason of visits over the years and participation in synods, we got to know the man personally, and I think he knows us. We always looked forward to listening to Ratzinger," Henry said.
Henry agreed that the new pope has been misrepresented in some media reports because he is "cultured, affable and always open to dialogue."
"When you meet him, he is a real gentleman. We always knew we would be listened to and respected. The discussion would be high level and honest."
Collins said the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne will take on a whole new flavour as the pope will celebrate the event in his home country. The archbishop said he is looking forward to meeting him in Germany.
"It will be spectacular," Collins said. "For him to return to his country to celebrate such an event like World Youth Day is a blessing."
When asked if not selecting someone younger will have any significance attracting youth to the Church, Collins said the effect of Pope John Paul II during WYD in Toronto in 2002 says it all.
"I did not notice an absence of young people with John Paul II," Collins said.
Touches the heart
"Watching him walking down the stairs when he was ill, the faithful were there for him. People respond to the simple message of Christ and that is what the Holy Father, priests and lay people are for. Once people remove the various distortions put on by our society, they see what is being proclaimed. It touches the heart; it changes the life," Collins said.
"Pope Benedict speaks the truth to the world. Sometimes people who wish to shake the truth do not want to hear that. But with humble honesty, he has always spoken the word of the Lord. And that touches the hearts of everyone."
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