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Canberra waits, as new Archbishop installed in Brisbane

Date

Graham Downie

Former Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge will be installed tomorrow as the 6th Archbishop of Brisbane.

The service will begin at 10.30am at St Stephen's Cathedral. Representatives of Canberra and Goulburn, including Moderator Monsignor John Woods and financial administrator Helen Delahunty will attend.

After the installation, Archbishop Coleridge will be replaced as administrator of Canberra and Goulburn by Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power.

The archdiocese's College of Consultors will meet next Thursday to elect an administrator who will serve in that role until the installation of the new Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn. The administrator will have limited authority and, similar to a caretaker government, cannot make decisions which would bind the next archbishop.

Consultation, led by Apostolic Nuncio Giuseppe Lazzarotto, begins the selection of the next archbishop. Exactly which people are included in the consultation is not made public. Traditionally, those people are asked who might be best to replace Archbishop Coleridge.

Ultimately Archbishop Lazzarotto sends a list of three names in order of preference to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome. The Pope makes the final decision.

The time taken to make this choice varies greatly but is thought to be faster if all of the proposed names are already bishops. All of the archbishops to Canberra and Goulburn over about the past 50 years have previously been bishops.

Other dioceses also requiring bishops are Hobart and Toowoomba. The archbishop of the former has retired and the bishop of the latter, Bill Morris, was required by the Pope to resign. Further complicating the matter is that bishops of about six, possibly more, other Australian dioceses are likely to retire within the next 12 to 18 months.

It is possible Monsignor Woods, who has a major administrative role in Canberra and Goulburn, will be considered as the replacement for Archbishop Coleridge. Also possible are the Vicar General of Adelaide, David Cappo. Some church sources believe even the Archbishop of Adelaide and chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Philip Wilson would be considered but this would effectively be a demotion and seems unlikely. Secretary of the conference, Brian Lucas, who lives in Canberra is also a possibility for Canberra and Goulburn or Hobart.

Two others considered possible are the affable Bishop of Townsville and president of the National Council of Churches in Australia Michael Putney; and Bishop of Darwin Eugene Hurley. Of these, Bishop Putney seems more likely because he has been in Townsville since 2001. Bishop Hurley went to Darwin only in 2007.

Meanwhile, Bishop Power, who could continue for another five years as Auxiliary Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, will retire in late June.

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