Archbishop Leonard Wall; 1924 – 2002
By Monsignor Vincent Foy
Archbishop Wall, former Archbishop of Winnipeg, died on Tuesday, March 5 at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto, after a long bout with cancer. He bore his sufferings bravely and cheerfully. Born in Windsor in 1924, he received his primary education there and his secondary education in Toronto, where the family lived in Blessed Sacrament Parish. His seminary training was at St. Augustine’s in Toronto and at Laval in Quebec City. He received a doctorate in theology from the Angelicum in Rome.
In Toronto Archdiocese Archbishop Wall served as curate, secretary to Cardinal McGuigan, professor, Vice-rector of St. Augustine’s Seminary, Chancellor and Vicar General. He was consecrated a bishop in 1979 and named Auxiliary bishop. In 1992 he was appointed Archbishop of Winnipeg. He remained there until his retirement in 2000 and then returned to Toronto, where he resided at St. Augustine’s Seminary.
Bishop Wall was known and appreciated for his administrative ability, sharp wit, fine intellectual qualities and cheerful personality. When he left Toronto to go to Winnipeg, Cardinal Ambrozic said: “All of us are profoundly grateful to Bishop Wall for the work he has done as a priest and bishop of this Archdiocese. His many years of leadership in both spiritual and temporal affairs have contributed to the vitality to our Church.”
It must be regretfully reported that the Archbishop, on several occasions, defended the infamous Winnipeg Statement of 1968, which warped the consciences of so many Canadian Catholics in the matter of contraception. In 1998, in a pastoral letter in his Archdiocesan Catholic News, he said that “Your bishops were not in September 1968 and are not now in contradiction of Church teaching.” That pastoral letter was ably criticized by Father Leonard Kennedy, C.S.B., in Catholic Insight for January/February 1999, in an article entitled “Response to Archbishop Leonard Wall.”
The funeral Mass took place at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, on March 7. Internment was in Winnipeg. We should surely pray for Archbishop Wall and all our Canadian Bishops.