Something stirring in Church's womb, says new Canberra Archbishop

"There is something stirring in the old, seemingly barren womb of Mother Church in this land, and it's all God's work," new Canberra Archbishop Mark Coleridge said yesterday at his installation Mass at St Christopher's cathedral.

Hundreds of people packed St Christopher's Cathedral for the installation yesterday, including a number of Australian bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Ambrose de Paoli, representatives from lay groups and communities, diplomats, politicians and family and friends.

Archbishop Coleridge said during the homily that "as Archbishop, I would hope to be a man who sees muted faces - the real face of the Church, the real face of Australia, your real face and even my own, which can be the hardest thing of all."

"I have been a priest for thirty-two years, and in the journey of those years, there have been extraordinary twists and turns," he added.

"In many ways, my life as priest and now Bishop has turned out to be very different than anything I expected when I was ordained to the priesthood in 1974.

Reflecting on his new mission, Archbishop Coleridge asked, "Where and how does the Church stand at this time and in this place?"

He observed that "it's plain to see that the Catholic Church in Australia is in some sense passing through a time of diminishment, and there are some who think that this is a process of terminal decline, that we who remain are the last of a dying tribe".

"I see things differently however," he said. "To my eye, the Catholic Church in Australia is like the ageing Elizabeth of whom we have heard in the Gospel just proclaimed. She is pregnant against all the odds. ... There is something stirring in the old, seemingly barren womb of Mother Church in this land, and it's all God's work.

"Not for the first time, the Catholic Church in Australia and elsewhere is passing through a time of deep and permanent change, which may in some ways be death but which is also birth," he continued.

"What is increasingly clear to me is that in the Second Vatican Council the Holy Spirit was seeking to stir in the whole Church new energies for mission. The Council was not about renewal of the Church for the Church's sake, but about renewal, new energy, for the Church's mission in the world," he said.

"Now is the time for a new kind of apostolic imagination, a kind of lateral thinking in the drive to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in fresh and powerful ways that go to the heart of Australia," Archbishop Coleridge concluded.

Born in Melbourne where he has been auxiliary bishop in the western region for the last four years, Archbishop Coleridge, who turns 58 next month, succeeds Archbishop Francis Carroll, who held the position for 23 years.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Homily, Installation Mass, 17/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn

Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
Bishop Mark Coleridge Documents and speeches (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Bishop Coleridge interview (Catholic Charismatic Renewal)
Pope no rottweiler (The Age 20/4/05)
Not Hollywood (Radio Vaticana 8/6/06)

Mark Coleridge new Archbishop for Canberra (CathNews, 23/6/06)
Coleridge plans to "stir up some energy" in Canberra (CathNews, 27/6/06)
Rome belongs to all of us (CathNews)
Bishop says Rome history shapes our identity (CathNews 16/12/05)

18 Aug 2006