Canadian Cardinal Remembers ‘humble’ Pope Benedict XVI

Canadian Cardinal Remembers ‘humble’ Pope Benedict XVI

One of Canada’s four Catholic cardinals remembers Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as an intelligent, humble and holy man, and the person who assigned him his job.

In a Jan. 4 interview with CTV National News chief international correspondent Paul Workman, Cardinal Thomas Collins said the late pontiff was known for “this gentleness and this kindness and this love,” he said, but also for his “extraordinary intellectual brilliance and immense learning.”

Benedict died Saturday at age 95. His body was placed on display Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica ahead of a funeral to be led Thursday by his successor, Pope Francis.

His tenure as head of the Catholic Church was marked by the fallout of the clerical sex abuse scandal and he famously became the first pope in 600 years to retire from the position in 2013, saying he no longer had the strength to serve.

Then, in January 2022, a long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese criticized his handling of four sexual abuse cases while he was archbishop in the 1970s and 80s.

But Collins said he should be remembered for what he accomplished during his papacy, particularly in ridding the church of “filthy” abusive priests.

“He put in tough laws. He centralized the dealing with these cases so they didn’t just do it on a piece of paper,” Collins said. “He kicked out of the priesthood people who should never have been there.”

Collins has twice been given appointments by popes. Benedict made him a cardinal in 2012, and Pope Francis appointed him to serve as a member of the commission overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion, also known as the Vatican Bank.

While he did not have a close personal relationship with the late pope, he said he got to know Benedict in other ways.

“I’ve always admired him enormously and he’s been a real hero for me throughout my life,” he said. “Mostly, I get to know him through his writings, but he certainly has had an impact on my own personal life by those two appointments.”

Collins joins several federal leaders and Canadian bishops who paid their respects to the late pope earlier this week.

“His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dedicated his life to serving his faith,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Saturday on Twitter.

“He was an accomplished theologian and scholar, and he was an inspiration to millions. My thoughts are with Catholics around the world and all those who are mourning his passing.”

– With files from Writer Michael Lee and the Associated Press