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51-year-old new bishop chosen to lead Toronto

St Michael's cathedral Toronto Canada

Reimar | Shutterstock

St Michael's Cathedral Toronto

I.Media - published on 02/12/23

Frank Leo was named an auxiliary bishop of Montreal only last year.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 76-year-old Canadian Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins as Archbishop of Toronto. The Pope has named as his successor Archbishop Frank Leo, 51, who received episcopal ordination only a few months ago as auxiliary of Montreal.

While Archbishop Leo is young at only 51, he is not among the Church’s youngest bishops. The Church has approximately 100 bishops in their 40s.

Leo was born in Montreal into a family of Italian immigrants. He is multilingual and speaks English, French, Italian, and Spanish. He has a doctorate in Marian theology. Ordained a priest in 1996, he first assumed various responsibilities in parishes and as a religion teacher.

From 2006 to 2008, he attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy – the school for nuncios in Rome – before entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See where he worked at the Apostolic Nunciature in Australia and at the Study Mission in Hong Kong in 2011-2012.

Back in Montreal, he was, among other things, director and teacher of dogmatics at the major seminary, and director of the department of canon law at the diocesan Institute for Theological Formation. In 2013, he founded the Canadian Mariological Society, of which he is president.

Bishop Leo served as general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2015 to 2021. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal on July 16, 2022, and ordained as a bishop on September 16.

He will now lead the largest diocese in Canada, a composite reality with some two million Catholics and 400 priests celebrating in more than 30 languages in 225 parishes.

Archbishop Collins

Born in 1947, Thomas Collins was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25 in 1972 for the Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario. His early years in the priesthood included biblical studies in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1986.

Consecrated a bishop in 1997, he was first appointed Coadjutor of St. Paul’s in Alberta, then Archbishop of Edmonton in 1999. In 2006, he was appointed to Toronto. During his ministry, he has defended traditional positions on social and moral issues. He has campaigned against euthanasia laws in Canada and against foreign funding of abortion.

Cardinal Collins has been assigned to several trusted missions by the Vatican. He was among the apostolic visitors sent to Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, after the release of reports detailing the extent of sexual abuse in the Church in that country.

He accompanied Francis on his tour of Canada at the end of July 2022, dedicated to indigenous peoples.

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