Cardinal Collins calls for integrity and humility in public life

The Cardinal gave a great talk to Parliamentarians, ambassadors and religious leaders earlier this month:

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto spoke to parliamentarians Dec. 2 on the importance of integrity and humility in public life.

Legislators experience “the burden of making a right judgment on matters that affect us all,” Cardinal Collins told members of parliament, senators, and representatives from many embassies at the All-Party Interfaith National Prayer Breakfast in Centre Block’s Parliamentary restaurant. “This can become a severe crisis of conscience if there is pressure put upon a public figure to forsake the most profound principles which define him or her.”

Speaking on the topic “Faith in times of crisis,” the Cardinal touched on the various crises in the world in the Middle East, in Ukraine, the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and murders of Mexican college students to the recent violence in the Halls of Parliament and the “ruthless murder at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

The crisis can also concern our own personal journey, he said.

Cardinal Collins suggested following the example of previous great leaders who have let their faith guide them in times of crisis such as St. Thomas More and St. John Paul II. He also urged cultivation of the virtue of humility, “a virtue rooted in faith, which protects us from becoming disoriented and shattered by the crises we all face.”

“Thomas More lived in a time of extraordinary social upheaval, at least as turbulent as our own, and as violent,” the cardinal said. “He lived with integrity – that is, he was an integer – a whole number: not divided as a fraction, with the public part of him following and conforming to the shifting whims of his monarch, or public opinion, and the inner personal part of him guided by faith and reason to seek the truth.”

“No, to live like that in public life is to be a fraction, not an integer: integrity means being whole: what he said and what he did and what he believed were one,” he said. “He did not personally believe one thing, while publicly doing another.”

The cardinal stressed More’s faith was not “simply matter of feeling, like taste,” or a “merely subjective faith” but combined faith and reason.

“He would not sign an oath that expressed what, after much thought, he did not believe to be objectively true; and so he gave his life, a martyr to freedom of conscience,” he said. “Like Thomas More, we all need to be people of integrity – integer-ity – and to look to both faith and reason as we seek to respond to the crises of life.”

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