Congratulations Archbishop-Elect Prowse

Well, there’s a pleasant surprise. Seems the Australian file is open on His Holiness’s desk again, and this time Canberra gets to celebrate the appointment of a new Archbishop.


Sentire Cum Ecclesia congratulates Archbishop-elect Bishop Christopher Prowse on his elevation to the Capital See of Australia. I had the great pleasure of working with the new archbishop when he was Vicar General and then an auxiliary in Melbourne. I particularly got to know him well when he travelled with us on our Catholic Muslim Pilgrimage to Istanbul and Rome in 2009.

I remember that my wife gave me a St Christopher’s medal when I set out on that trip. I wonder if the patron Saint of Travellers had anything to do with this appointment – given he is also the patron of Canberra’s cathedral?


I wish +Christopher and the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn every blessing for the future.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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44 Responses to Congratulations Archbishop-Elect Prowse

  1. adam says:

    Whilst congratulations are in order for Bishop Prowse’s promotion to Canberra and an archbishopric, it is very interesting to note the state of Australia’s episcopacy.
    It’s really a case of musical chairs these last few years with the movement of bishops, especially from Sees to new Sees.
    We have now seen FIVE bishops moved from Melbourne over the past decade or so to take up Sees:
    Cardinal Pell from Melbourne to Sydney
    Archbishop Coleridge, first to Canberra and then to Brisbane
    Bishop Tomlinson to Bendigo
    Archbishop Cottlesloe to Perth
    Archbishop elect Prowse from Sale to Canberra.
    Its fascinating that the Melbourne Archdiocese now has priests (who became bishops)
    in FOUR of the major archbishoprics of Australia (out of 6, if you discard Melbourne).
    This is an amazing state of affairs to say the least, since what does it say about the calibre of bishops-to-be in Australia when the bulk come from one diocese. And there is also Ballarat where the bishop comes from Melbourne and one other in NSW.
    As well, Archbishop elect Porteous who is about to move from Sydney to Hobart.
    So in at least 7 Sees, the resident Bishop is not from that diocese as a priest.
    Is there any other country in the Catholic world where such a high proportion of bishops come from dioceses other than the one they are bishops of?
    And now of course, Sale will have to be filled. In a short time Lismore will become vacant and in less than 5 years both Sydney and Melbourne will most likely be up for new appointments.
    What is probably most interesting with the +Prowse appointment now, is that he most likely will not be moved to Melbourne when +Hart goes. So, the future appointment there will be fascinating. Perhaps a Sydney auxiliary could be appointed to Melbourne a la Pell to Sydney.
    Worth pondering. But it seems to Australian episcopal scene is not that easy to read and it also appears certain that making these appointments is not at all easy. Not easy to find great episcopal material today.

    • Schütz says:

      Very inventive attempt at Archbishop Costelloe’s surname, Adam!

    • I hear what you’re saying Adam, about musical chairs, but we probably should distinguish between auxiliary bishops moving to a new see, and ordinaries moving to a new see.

      I don’t think the nuptial analogy applies to auxiliaries. So it’s not as though +Tomlinson was “wed,” so to speak, to Melbourne before his assignment to Sandhurst. On the other hand, +Prowse was wed to Sale, +Coleridge was wed to Canberra-Goulburn, +Pell was wed to Melbourne, etc.

      Sandro Magister has an interesting article on this, with a demonstrative title to boot: The scourge of divorce between bishop and diocese!

      • adam says:

        True, but this is just playing with words. My original point still stands, that a very large number of Melbourne priests who have been consecrated as bishops (auxiliary or Ordinary) have gone on to become bishops of Sees outside Melbourne. The figures are very high. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that so many are a product of Jesuit seminary formation at Werribee which was rigorous and solid (Pell, Hart, Coleridge, Grech, Prowse – all went through Jesuit seminary formation at CCC).
        And the question still remains, why are Sees not filled across Australia by priests within their own dioceses?
        Since the early 50’s, Hobart has had 4 Archbishops. Only only, Adrian Doyle is a ‘local’. The other three came from Canberra (Young), Sale (D’Arcy) and now Sydney (Porteous).
        Incidentally, the issue of moving bishops from See to See has been raised in America and Europe. Should an Ordinary remain in his See for life and not be moved to another before 75?
        There is a certain ‘inbuilt careerism’ in episcopal appointments.

        • Schütz says:

          I do think it is perfectly appropriate to shift auxiliaries to sees of their own. Their official see, after all, doesn’t really exist.

          Perhaps that is a reason for so many Melbourne appointments around Australia. Melbourne has been entitled to up to four auxiliaries in the past (we only have two at the moment). Our auxiliaries have generally all come from within the Archdiocese (+George was an exception, he was from Ballarat).

          • adam says:

            Yes, to a point David. The current archbishops of Perth, Melbourne, Canberra (to be), Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart (to be) were auxiliaries. Bishops-in-training for their own future Sees.Most do move on, but some remain auxiliaries for one reason or another and never get their own See. I wonder why sometimes.
            But an interesting fact is that some go from priest to bishop or arhcbishop immediately. Case in point, Cardinal Hume, former archbishop of Westminster. He went fromAbbot at a school in Britain, to Archbishop and cardinal all within 3 months and was there for 20 years. The new archbishop of Edinburgh will be consecrated next weekend. From Monsignor to archbishop.
            But it is true that the majority seem to be auxiliaries beforehand.
            I’m not that convinced that Melbourne needs four auxiliaries anyway. There are many larger catholic dioceses across the globe that do not have 4 auxiliaries. And besides, most of them in Melbourne have short tenure before moving on.
            Still Hilton Deakin, Joe O’Connell, Eric Perkins, Kelly and incumbent Peter Elliott have never been given their own Sees. And +Power in Canberra was an axiliary for years and years and never moved to his own See and he’s just retired before he turned 75 !!! Figure that out. Pax

  2. Peter says:

    Victoria dominates!
    The Archbishops of Sydney,Melbourne,Brisbane,Canberra and Perth are all Victorians.
    Go the Vics!

    • adam says:

      And I forgot one of the most significant but tragic of the last decade. That of Melbourne auxiliary +Joe Grech who went to Bendigo then died at such an early age for a bishop. Joe, dare I say, would most probably been translated to Canberra or even back to Melbourne as Archbishop but it was not to be. A deeply warm, dynamic, spiritual bishop he was taken from is too quickly. And incidentally he gave a retreat to priests in Buenos Aires not long before he returned to God. His death at a young age created a major hole in the Australian episcopacy which quite frankly lacks dynamic leaders for the 21st century. Try picking new auxiliaries for Melbourne and Sydney and you will be hard pressed to do so, sadly.

      • Schütz says:

        I am sure the Nuncio, the Pope and the Holy Spirit will manage just fine, Adam. But you are right in that we lost someone special in +Joe.

        • adam says:

          With respect David, episcopal appointments are not a matter of ‘management’ and the incumbent Nuncio is new to his appointment, having arrived only months ago.But after +Prowse’s predecessor’s retirement it took nearly two years to appoint Christopher. Now only a few years later he is moved and Sale will probably have no new bishop for at least a year or more. Maybe it has to do with the quality of priestly candidates available and maybe refusals etc. It is a fact that priests can refuse to be ordained a bishop after the Nuncio has contacted them.

  3. John Nolan says:

    Congratulations to all you down under for your choice of Tony Abbott as PM. Climate change sceptic, opponent of ‘gay marriage’, he and Cardinal Pell should hit it off. Commentators here are saying that if David Cameron adopted the same agenda he would sweep the board at the next general election. Fat chance.

    • Tony says:

      By way of clarification, John:
      – by all reports, Abbott and +Pell are already long-term friends.
      – the new Abbott-led government proposes to spend $6B on ‘direct action’ to mitigate against carbon pollution and the environment spokesman (soon to be minister) is not a sceptic. In a moral sense this makes his position on climate change (if he indeed is a sceptic) hypocritical.
      – Abbott has made his personal position clear on gay marriage, but it’s not at all clear that he’s going to oppose it come hell or high water or that he’ll stand in the way of a conscience vote. On balance, it is highly unlikely to come up as an issue while he has a comfortable parliamentary majority.

      • Schütz says:

        And so say all of us. Thanks, Tony.

        • Tony says:

          It’s your gig, David, you can say what you like, but ‘us’ is another matter.

        • Peter says:

          Interesting that in the lead up to the election,when independent MP Tony Windsor suggested a referendum or plebiscite on SSM,the wind bags from marriage equality ran a mile.

          • Tony says:

            On my reading there were pretty sound constitutional reasons for not going for a referendum.

            I think too, there was the very real fear that such a referendum would turn ugly. Maybe, for example, ‘windbags’ would be at the polite end of the spectrum.

            I wonder if a referendum took place and voted for marriage equality, would those who actively opposed it ‘run a mile’ from the result?

            • Peter says:

              To this point,the windbags have hardly been polite on this issue so there is little likelihood that they would start now.
              Also,this still does not answer the question as to why they were opposed to a referendum when they keep telling us about the supposed majority public support for SSM.

            • Tony says:

              The virtue of being ‘polite’ is surely not dependent on what others do, Peter.

              Again, on my reading (which I don’t claim to be extensive) there were concerns expressed about such an issue being mired in bitter invective (yes, from both sides!) which wouldn’t advance a cool, reasoned argument. There’s no shortage of evidence for that view.

              Legally, marriage laws are state-based so a national referendum would have no bearing on changing those laws.

              But, let’s suppose there was a referendum. Two outcomes would be possible: a vote for ‘marriage equality’ or a vote against. To test the value of such a referendum I invite you to speculate about how the ‘losing side’ would respond.

              Would they — pro marriage equality or anti — be happy with the outcome and no longer pursue their views? I think the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Which begs the question, why have a referendum? Or, is a referendum a useful way of coming to a resolution?

              Whatever your views, I think the answer is no.

            • Schütz says:

              Probably more pertinent is the question of whether there is a way to resolve this issue at all, full stop, without there being considerable kickback from the unsuccessful side.

            • Peter says:

              Probably not David.There are some interesting stats in the Weekend Australian-
              -Greens 28%
              -ALP 15%
              -Coalition 4%

              The percentage figures represent the numbers who gave their first preference vote to the respective parties and who think SSM is an important issue.
              If these figures are even half right Tony Abbott can ignore this issue and suffer a neglible backlash.

            • Schütz says:

              You presume these will be their values as they age. These might always be “young people’s” values, eg. University housing isn’t going to be important to them when they get older.

            • Tony says:

              Possibly David. I think it more likely that these figures fit in with the broader trend of growing acceptance of marriage equality and may indicate that it’s a trend that will continue.

              I’m open to evidence to the contrary, but I don’t see that the arguments prosecuted by those opposing marriage equality are gaining much traction, especially with the young.

              It may not be any sort of ‘deal breaker’ when it comes to choosing a candidate or a party, but that works both ways. Opposing marriage equality is not a deal breaker for voters — especially young voters — either.

              The issue has come within Abbott’s ‘small target’ strategy, but he has hinted that he would allow a conscience vote if the it came up in parliament and eventually — if not immediately — I think a majority of members would support marriage equality.

            • Schütz says:

              Would you please stop using the term “marriage equality”, Tony, as if it is a term we all accept?. It is a slogan, rather than naming a thing for what it is. Like calling an abortion a ‘termination’. It has no real meaning.

            • Peter says:

              Well said David.
              Contrary to nature unions would be a more appropriate term

            • Schütz says:

              That is not accurate either, Peter. What we are talking about is quite simply the legal redefinition of marriage to include same sex couples. I believe that to be an accurate description of what the debate is about, which prejudices neither side of the debate. “Marriage equality” and “contrary to nature unions” are not what this debate is about.

        • Tony says:

          It was not meant to be provocative, David. If you’d prefer ‘legal redefinition of marriage’, I’ll run with that.

          • Schütz says:

            I would prefer it. I find the other term you used presumptuous. It makes it sound as if those of us who have good reason for rejecting the proposal for redefinition are against “equality”.

            • Tony says:

              OK David. I don’t find your preferred phrase particularly acceptable either, but, as I said, it’s your gig. I’ll try to remember to use it in future. It wasn’t meant to be presumptuous in any way. I accept that people have different views and that calling them ‘windbags’ or implying that they are against ‘equality’ is not helpful.

            • Schütz says:

              What don’t you find acceptable about it, Tony?

            • Tony says:

              I’m acutely aware, David, that this topic of yours has moved as far away from its original intention as you could imagine.

              You object to ‘marriage equality’ because it implies something about those who oppose it. The term ‘redefinition of marriage’ also ‘positions’ the protagonists.

              Just as one term implies that one group ‘opposes equality’ the other implies that one group is hostile to or opposes heterosexual marriage.

              You may not agree that it does that, just as I don’t agree with the assumptions you draw from the other term, but I can see the tangent becoming way bigger than the original topic if I try to defend that point of view.

              We’re already going beyond the particular nested string structure of this ‘ere blog when a post doesn’t have a reply button attached to it.

  4. John Nolan says:

    BTW, I tried to comment on the previous post, but for some reason couldn’t get the page up. ‘Inter’ in Latin can mean both ‘between’ and ‘among’. Examples of the latter would be ‘inter alia’, ‘inter multos’, ‘primus inter pares’, ‘Inter Insigniores’ (Decree of the CDF 1976) and ‘Inter oves locum praesta’ (Dies Irae). ‘Apud’ is also correct, although its primary meaning corresponds to the French ‘chez’ or the German ‘bei’.

  5. John Nolan says:

    Sorry, still can’t get the combox on the other post. To reinforce the comments, ‘inter’, whether it is used for ‘between’ or ‘among’, always governs a noun in the plural. Not so with ‘apud’ – “Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum patrem omnipotentem”. The normal translation would be ‘with’, although ICEL prefers ‘to’.

    I don’t claim to be an “expert on Latin”, but would suggest that in the case of the original poster “Peritus per galerum loquitur”.

  6. Tony says:

    Speaking of bishops … looks like half truths are spreading.

    • adam says:

      It appears that the decline in vocations is spreading and this must be a very worrying state of affairs in Catholic Australia. Dare I say, but much of it is due to the lack of a vibrant leadership by the current bishops. You would be hard pressed to find any bishop who stands out as a dynamic spiritual leader. perhaps only +Mark Coleridge, who I thought would one day end up in Sydney as Cardinal. But I think that future role is now a no goer as it seems that Bishop Fisher will take that position when +Pell goes within the next 4-5 years. And Melbourne, well this did look like +Prowse territory until last week and his promotion to Canberra will see him there for more than 4 years.
      So who for melbourne now in the next 4-5 years? Not Elliott. But the man to watch is the former Melbourne resident, +McNamara of Bathurst. Now 60, he would seem to be the best on the starting blocks. So watch this space.
      The nuncio will have his hands full trying to fill Lismore, and no doubt some auxiliaries for Melbourne and Sydney as well. But the longer these appointments take the more you have to be worried about where are the great spiritual leaders of the future. Where are Australia’s Dolans, Martinis, Humes or Bergoglios or Tagles? No where on the horizon and that is a very sad state of affairs for the australian Church.

      • Tony says:

        Dare I say, but much of it is due to the lack of a vibrant leadership by the current bishops.

        I guess you can say what you like, Adam, but where’s the evidence?

        • adam says:

          Well, lack of vocations to the priesthood would be a good start. Most dicoese suffering. Hobart is a case in point, not enough priests to go around. Like Adelaide. The reduction in Sunday masses in most churches across the country. Drastic reduction in people going to Mass and the sacraments across the country (of course shared by many western countries). The real problem of finding dynamic, spiritual leaders for the Church. My original point, much earlier, of the FACT that five of the major archbishoprics of Austrlia (out of seven), have Ordinaries from one diocese (melbourne).
          You would be hard placed to find any well known international bishop among the present crop of bishops. Only Pell, being a cardinal and on the Group of 8 chosen by Francis. Not a single Tagle, Dolan, who is outstanding, known for great preaching. Only +Coleridge as a preacher that seems to come close to the mark.
          With respect, it is time to face the fact that the Australian Church lacks really inspirational leaders. Most are chosen for their safety and bureacratic background as canon lawyers etc.
          I think here, its not so much the evidence of inspirational leaders that is needed, but show me a bishop that the populace really sees as outstanding and who would the people to the barricades.
          I frankly doubt that 95% of people in their dioceses know who their bishop is, have met personally and have felt greatly inspired by.
          Tough talk? Yes. That’s what’s needed.
          Oh – and when was the last time you actually witnessed a bishop at prayer in his cathedral (outside of Mass)?
          I remember seeing it many times of Blessed Mother Teresa – and she wasn’t even a priest – but a living saint who could be seen at prayer often.
          The people never see their bishops at prayer publicly, on their knees. And they never hear their bishops speak about prayer – when was the last time you heard that?
          But Pope Francis has been doing it regularly here in Europe and only last weekend spent 4 hours in public prayering with thousands in St Peter’s piazza. Yes, 4 hours solid before the blessed sacrament.
          That’s my view. Because I think its about time people saw their bishops at prayer, inspired and moved by the power of prayer. Time to get back on the knees !!

          • Schütz says:

            I’m glad you said that it is your view, Adam. I want to make it quite clear to anyone reading this that it is not mine. Enough of this now. Let us seek to build up rather than tear down, eh? Who could have predicted Pope Francis? Not even those who knew him as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Don’t forget: Maior autem his est spes!

        • Schütz says:

          Yes, I would dispute it too. Lots of good priests “knocking at the door”, as our PM might say.

      • Schütz says:

        Well that’s all very interesting, Adam. Speculate away. We will be none the wiser until these appointments are made. I’ve given up trying to second guess the mind of the Holy Spirit…

        BTW, Bathurst is +McKenna.

        • adam says:

          Yes, my error re Bathurst. Close.
          But whilst the Holy Spirit is supreme, it is still men who vote in conclaves and men who take on the role of Bishop of Rome, whilst being bishops. 2000 years of history shows that the human element can go astray and become a total scandal, cf Alexander VI as a prime example.
          semper fidelis.
          ps. Yes they are my views and not yours David, and its a pleasure to be able to air them freely on your blog, even if far away. Gracias

  7. adam says:

    The words of Pope Francis at Mass in the casa at the Vatican: 26 Sept

    “It’s necessary to know Jesus in dialogue with him, talking with him, in prayer, on your knees.”

    Yes – for all of us, bishops, priests, the people of God.

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