Toronto cardinal heads to Rome to help select next pope

Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, is heading to Rome to take part in the process of selecting a new pope.
Cardinal Thomas Collins explains the process to select a new pope. 1:41

Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins is headed to Rome to take part in the process of selecting a new pope.

Collins is among three Canadian cardinals who will help choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

"This is certainly a very exciting time in the life of the church as we come to the end of the pontificate of our holy father, Pope Benedict, and begin the process for the selection of the new successor of St. Peter," he said Sunday, when speaking to the media before heading to the airport.

Collins told members of the media that he's been doing a lot of work in preparation.

"It is an astonishing experience…to be in a conclave. I am overwhelmed by it, to think of that," he said.

"But you know, the Lord will guide us and I've been trying to do my best to reflect on what that will involve."

He also spoke of the excitement in participating in the historic process of selecting a new pope.

Collins said that he was studying in Rome in 1978, but wasn't present when the cardinals were called upon to select a new pope twice in the same year.

This time around, Collins will witness the transition first hand.

"You just hear of the excitement in the streets … however, I won't be there, I'll be inside and I'll know who the pope is before others do," he said.

"It'll be amazing."

Pope Benedict delivered his final Sunday blessing at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican today.

The 85-year-old is the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.

Before dashing off to the airport, Collins told reporters that there is not much precedent to look to in analyzing how a pope transitions into a retirement.

But he said that a plan for the outgoing pope to move into a monastery seems a natural fit.

"Where would a pope, a person who has been a pope, live? It could be anywhere and I think the Vatican Gardens and a monastery there is a good place to be," he said.

With files from The Associated Press