Author optimistic about future of hierarchy
Following a succession of bishops reaching retirement age, author Paul Collins has written a commentary in which he predicts that key positions in the Australian hierarchy could be occupied by a number of highly competent "rising stars" among the current bishops.
Writing in this week's Online Catholics, Collins alludes to the retirement of Archbishop Francis Carroll, who reached the retirement age of 75 last month and had his resignation request accepted by Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Carroll has been head of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Collins said that several other bishops are also close to the retirement age: Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta is 72, Bishops Jeremiah Coffey of Sale and Patrick Dougherty of Bathurst are 73, and Bishop Edmund Collins of Darwin is 74.
He mentions as a positive, the fact that decisions about future appointments are in the hands of the recently arrived Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Ambrose de Paoli, an American of Italian extraction, formerly Nuncio in Japan.
"Certainly, there is a perception abroad among bishops and others who have met him that, as an American, he has a better feel than his predecessors, the Italians Franco Brambilla and Francesco Canaloni, for the cultural conditions in which the Australian church operates."
Collins suggests two names for the key Canberra appointment - Bishops Michael Putney of Townsville and Mark Coleridge, auxiliary of Melbourne.
"Both Coleridge and Putney are intelligent, theologically sophisticated, and cautious. Both have played their cards carefully and neither has blotted his ecclesiastical copybooks by outspoken or contentious comments," he said. "Another name that is mentioned is Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong. A man with a long history of pastoral care, Ingham is kind and approachable. Wollongong was not an easy appointment with several difficult sexual abuse cases and the continuing disruptive presence of William Kamm, to so-called 'Little Pebble' and his 'apparitions'. Ingham has successfully dealt with these issues."
Collins, a former Missionary of the Sacred Heart priest who famously clashed with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was an ABC broadcaster who has published a succession of books, including God's New Man last month. He is now writing regular commentaries for Online Catholics
Whither the future of the Australian hierarchy (Online Catholics 6/10/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Paul Collins: God's New Man (Melbourne University Publishing)
6 Oct 2005