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New bishop returns from Rome to questions on sex abuse scandal

Melbourne's newest bishop jetted in from Rome at the weekend, vowing to ``do whatever -- whatever -- is necessary'' to clean up a church reeling over the scandal of sexual abuse and hush money.

``Throwing money at the problem is not necessarily the answer at all,' said 53 year old auxiliary Bishop Mark Coleridge. ``Money in compensation is only part of it, and if we go bankrupt, so much the better.

After nearly five years in the Vatican's Secretariat of State -- and the past six months as chaplain to the Pope -- he has given up his apartment in the Holy City to live in West Footscray.

``I'll be living in the shadow of Teddy Whitten's statue,'' Bishop Coleridge said. ``I'll be barracking for the Doggies -- and while I'm not looking for the No. 1 ticket, I wouldn't turn it back. I know I've come back to a sad church, a church in crisis. I'd like to be a bearer of joy, even for the saddest of people. My job as bishop is to gather all people together -- and to reach out to the victims.''

Before he left for Rome again and his latest job on the Vatican's English desk, he served as spokesman for Melbourne's archdiocese, and was a radio commentator for Teddy Whitten's state funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral.

``We have long experience in crisis management and what that experience teaches is that any attempt to deny the crisis is doomed,'' Bishop Coleridge said. ``The only way to work through this is for the whole church to draw together and work with no spirit of partisanship, antagonism, reproach or condemnation.

``We are all wounded, we are all afflicted by what has happened. Our first responsibility is to help the victims. We cannot preach the gospel of Jesus without attending firstly and absolutely to the very reasonable demands and requests of the victims.''

Surrounded by the splendour of the Vatican, Bishop Coleridge said he kept a sense of perspective by putting a poster on his office wall saying: Do Not Lose Sight of Jesus.

Pope names new bishop for Melbourne (6/5/02)

Herald-Sun (payment required)

11 Jun 2002