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Cardinal Collins: New Saints are models of the virtues

(Vatican Radio) “In a sense, nothing happens at canonization,” says Cardinal Thomas Collins, with a laugh. It’s not the Pope who makes saints, but God. “All the Pope does is help us be sure that the person is a saint.”

Speaking with Vatican Radio ahead of Sunday’s canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the Archbishop of Toronto spoke about the significance of the event for the whole Church.

“It is a way of underlining the virtues which I think are important for us to reflect upon in our life… I think the pastoral care of Pope John XXIII is a great, a tremendous message for all of us, that kind of gentle care for people.”

He also spoke about Pope John Paul II, the first Pope to visit Canada. “Whereas Pope John XXIII was largely working from within the Vatican and caring for the people that way, Pope John Paul of course was away a lot, he was on the road evangelizing. And that gives a different dimension to the Gospel.”

The two new Saints, said Cardinal Collins, offer models for the Church today. “I often think that, as we’re looking for the pastoral plan for our own Archdiocese, we need to be like shepherds caring for the gathered, and like apostles reaching out to the scattered. And although both John XXIII and John Paul did both all the time, I think in a certain sense Pope John was the pastor caring for the gathered, and helping them move out, and Pope John Paul was reaching out very dramatically for the people in far distant places, and may be especially the people who had not heard of Christ or who needed to be evangelized.”

The canonization of both Popes together, he said, is a great way to emphasize both aspects. “It’s wonderful that our Holy Father is canonizing both of them to show different dimensions, not simply of the role of pope, but also of the role of sanctity.” Although obviously very few people are called to be Pope, Collins said, “all of us are called to holiness, and we can always look to the models of the great saints,” to try to learn to imitate the virtues in our own lives.

Listen to the full interview of Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto with Christopher Wells: RealAudioMP3