Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, along with 21 other bishops from around the world, was promoted to the College of Cardinals at the Feb. 18 consistory. In an interview with Maclean’s as cardinal-designate prior to the consistory, Archbishop Collins was asked about “what Catholics call ‘life issues’,” and he replied: “I think it is the ultimate issue, the respect for life from the moment of conception to natural death.” He said abortion and euthanasia need to be fought against and made it clear it will be part of that battle because “we all are called to die, but we are called to live here as long as God gives us the gift of life on this Earth.”
As archbishop, Collins has spoken out on abortion. He denounced then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff over the politician’s insistence that Stephen Harper’s maternal health plan for the developing world include abortion. Archbishop Collins said, “in light of the many positive contributions that Canada can make to the improvement of maternal and child health, it is astonishing that the leader of the opposition, Mr. Michael Ignatieff, has issued a statement advocating contraception and abortion as fundamental elements addressing” maternal and infant health. He continued: “There are many fruitful ways to improve maternal and child health and the discussion should centre on the most effective strategies for doing this.” Collins noted that even abortion supporters do not “propose it as a positive contribution to society.”
Usually, however, Archbishop Collins has eschewed politics to show quiet support for pro-life initiatives. He works closely with Sisters for Life, which helps pregnant women by providing material and moral support for young mothers. He also supported Aid to Women, a crisis pregnancy center in downtown Toronto situated directly beside the Cabbagetown abortuary.
Archbishop Collins has attended and spoken at the National March for Life in Ottawa and prayed the rosary during LifeChain and outside of an abortion mill during the 40 Days for Life vigil.
Archbishop Collins is more focused on matters within the Catholic Church than in the political sphere and has thus taken the lead to correct the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) international development arm, Development and Peace (D&P), after LifeSiteNews.com exposed its funding of groups advocating for abortion. Archbishop Collins was the first bishop in Canada to react publicly to revelations about D&P. Less than a week after the first LifeSiteNews report was published, Archbishop Collins sent a message to all pastors in the archdiocese calling for the “serious allegations” about Development and Peace to be “investigated in detail,” and warning that funding of the organization was in jeopardy. In his letter, Archbishop Collins said: “Development & Peace has not as yet received its funding from ShareLife for 2009. Be assured I will not allow any money raised in the Archdiocese of Toronto to be used for pro-abortion activities or organizations.”In his statement Archbishop Collins said, “we will set aside $1,125,000, which will be available for projects of Development and Peace which are operated by organizations endorsed by local bishops.” After an official CCCB investigation claimed D&P did nothing wrong, Archbishop Collins maintained the policy of not permitting archdiocesan funding to go to groups that did not have the support of the local bishop. John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSiteNews told The Interim at the time, “the measure will serve to clear up the problems with such funding since none of the pro-abortion groups funded by D&P are known to be endorsed by their local bishops in the developing world.”
After it was announced that he would be elevated to cardinal, Westen wrote “ Archbishop Collins has shown himself to be a vocal defender of children in the womb,” through “his willingness to stand up for life, even amidst disagreement from many of his brother bishops on the D&P question has shown his commitment to the high priority the Church gives to the protection of the lives of children in the womb and support for women in crisis pregnancy situations.”Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes said, “I look forward to working with Cardinal Collins in promoting a Culture of Life. The Church and Canada needs spiritual leadership from the likes of men like Thomas Collins if we are going to defeat the Culture of Death.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement on the Toronto archbishop’s promotion. Harper said, “The appointment of Thomas Collins to the College of Cardinals is a great honour for His Grace as well as the Archdiocese of Toronto and all members of the Catholic Church across Canada – a testament to his hard work and faithful devotion to the Church and spiritual life.”