With the formal reading in Latin of a Papal Bull, Christopher Prowse has become the seventh Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.
Archbishop Prowse was formally installed in his chair of office in St Christopher’s Cathedral in front of about 700 people, including more than 30 of his brother bishops.
The Vatican’s Ambassador to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher read out the letter of appointment from Pope Francis, before it was translated into English.
“We believe that with your well recognised and much esteemed spiritual and pastoral gifts, you venerable brother, are best suited to fill this vacancy,’’ Pope Francis wrote to Archbishop Prowse.
Describing Australia as “a country very dear to us’’, the Pope urged Catholics in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn to welcome Archbishop Prowse.
“We encourage them to welcome you warmly and always remain one with you in faith and love,’’ he wrote.
Archbishop Prowse formerly served as Bishop of Sale and as an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne.
In his homily, he reflected on the fact he and the cathedral were both named after St Christopher.
According to legend, St Christopher served God by carrying people – including on one occasion the Christ-Child – across a dangerous river.
“I want to be a ‘Christopher’ for you,’’ Archbishop Prowse told the congregation.
“I want to carry you and your burdens to Jesus, the great burden-bearer, across the dangerous river of life.’’
Senior clergy at the mass included Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell. Former Canberra and Goulburn Archbishop Mark Coleridge, now the Archbishop of Brisbane, also attended. Former Archbishop Francis Carroll was unable to attend due to ill-health.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was represented by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews.
Liberal MPs Russell Broadbent and Angus Taylor and Liberal MLAs Brendan Smyth, Giulia Jones and Steve Doszpot were also there.
Other notable guests included former governor-general Sir William Deane and Lady Helen Dean.