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Cardinal Collins heads to Vatican to select new pope

Cardinal Thomas Collins says he is keeping an open mind and will keep an open ear to the advice of other cardinals as he heads to Vatican City to help select a new pope.

The Guelph native says he has no idea yet what characteristics the next pope should have, adding he will first get to know the 116 cardinals who will join him in conclave to pick the next head of the Catholic Church.

Collins says he has been intensely studying historical studies of the “awesome process” of a papal conclave, which he has never participated in before.

He says he has received emails encouraging him to express a willingness to become pope, but adds he has no interest in the church’s top post.

Pope Benedict will greet Collins and the assembled College of Cardinals before officially retiring Thursday, touching off the process of deciding on his successor.

Quebec’s Marc Cardinal Ouellet is considered a possible front-runner to replace Benedict, and Collins says any country that sees one of its cardinals become pope will be pleased.