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Australia (CNS) — Pope Francis has named Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli as the ninth leader of
the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
came late June 29 in Melbourne.
Comensoli, 54, the bishop of Broken
Bay, Australia, since 2014, succeeds Archbishop Denis Hart, 77, who is past the age at
which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation.
The new archbishop
said in a statement that he accepted the call “to be a new missionary
among God’s people of the Archdiocese of Melbourne” while acknowledging
“the great responsibility entrusted to me, along with the frailties I
appointment comes as the Australian Catholic Church contends with the fallout from
criminal charges against two high-ranking leaders within the church in regarding
cases of clerical sexual abuse.
George Pell, head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, is the
most senior church official to face criminal charges in connection with child
sexual abuse. He took a leave of absence from his position in the summer of
2017 to face charges of sexual abuse of minors from the 1970s, when he was a
priest, and the 1990s, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
Although Cardinal Pell has consistently denied the
charges, in early May an Australian magistrate ordered him to stand trial,
saying she believed there was enough evidence presented in connection with
about half the original charges to warrant a full trial.
On May 23, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide announced that he was stepping aside from his duties after
being convicted of covering up allegations of clerical sexual abuse.
said the people of Melbourne had been in his prayers.
deeply aware of the painful witness you bear because of the crimes committed in
the church against the most innocent, our children and the vulnerable. I share
the bewilderment and anger you feel at the failure of church leaders to believe
victims and to respond to them with justice and compassion,” Archbishop
Comensoli said in a statement released by the Diocese of Broken Bay.
He said it
“is our solemn shared duty to right the grievous wrongs of the past and
ensure that the future is very different.”
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of
Brisbane, president of the Australia Catholic Bishops’ Conference,
welcomed the appointment, saying the new archbishop “has a good mind, an
engaging personality and the strong pastoral sense needed in our largest diocese
at complex time like this.”
man who can listen and a man who can speak not only to Catholic people, but to
the wider community as well,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
archbishop was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wollongong in 1992. He was appointed
auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney in 2011 and served as the
apostolic administrator of the archdiocese for eight months in 2014 until the
appointment of a new archbishop.
Comensoli was to be installed during a Mass Aug. 1 in St. Patrick Cathedral in
Archdiocese of Melbourne is the largest in Australia, with 1.1 million
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