Monday, April 4, 2011
New bishop for Maitland-Newcastle: Fr William Wright*** updated
Newcastle has a new bishop, Fr William (Bill) Wright of Sydney (picture from the Catholic Weekly).
The Press release gives the following background on him:
"Reverend William Wright was born on 26 October, 1952 in Washington D.C. He was educated in Sydney and the UK and completed his secondary schooling at Jesuit Fathers St Aloysius’ College in Milsons Point.
He entered the Seminary for the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1971, studying first at St Columba’s College, Springwood before proceeding to St Patrick’s College, Manly.
He has served as parish priest in a number of Sydney parishes including Dulwich Hill and Bonnyrigg-Edensor Park. Father Wright has been the parish priest of Liverpool since 2009.
He served as the Vice Rector of the Seminary between 1985 and 1991, and as an Assistant Secretary to the Bishops Conference in 1995.
He is currently serving as the Chairman of the Catholic Schools Board of the Archdiocese of Sydney and is the representative of the Western Deanery on the Council of Priests."
Please pray for the bishop-elect, he'll need your prayers!
Anyone know anything about him from a sympathy to trads perspective?
**Updates: And folks please, show some respect for the Office and take care in your wording, paying attention to general catholic principles relating to commenting on individuals. On reflection I've deleted two comments I originally let through as not meeting those standards - those commenters are invited to resubmit a more considered wording of their comments. All I'm really asking for is some tact!
But the substance of them is that this is not good news for traditionalists.
!!!! It is definitely not good news. For the latest, see this story about the complaint currently with Rome over his refusal to allow a Extraordinary Form Mass. And more on his curious views about catering for special groups, even in the Ordinary Form, here.
Fr Wright by reputation...
I do urge respect, tact and the avoidance of detraction or calumny. For some guidance on what that does and doesn't allow, let me recommend this useful discussion, with which I pretty much agree. Note that things that are in the public domain are generally fine to discuss (subject to prudent judgments), particularly given the legitimate interest in the subject.
So let me paraphrase what I've been told or read so far. One commenter noted that Fr Wright was associated with Manly Seminary at a time when it had a less than stellar reputation morally and theologically. Indeed, you can read Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott's description of this period from his famous Bulletin article here. Fr Wright wrote a response to him, accessible here.
Others suggested that he is a liberal who is unlikely to be a lively reformer of the diocese's ills and likely to be a problem for traditionalists (I guess Cath News' decision to put the smiling face of AB Wilson rather than of the bishop-elect with the story, plus Fr Wright's reference to his friendship with the extremely liberal Bishop of Toowoomba in the Catholic Weekly story could be taken as clues...). Certainly the acatholicas seem to be excited about the appointment (but then they are excitable folk, and no actual substance has been offered in support of this enthusiasm beyond Fr Wright's response to Mr Abbott which I personally don't find that decisive - one can fully understand both perspectives articulated in the articles!).
But for a more positive reaction from what appears to be an orthodox commentator judging by his last few posts (though I admit I don't follow this forum closely) take a look over at Cath Pews.
In any case, I urge those most directly affected not to despair, but to pray!
There is an article on the appoint in the Newcastle Herald that includes some interesting comments by retiring Bishop Malone:
" Bishop Malone told the Newcastle Herald last night that he regretted his early handling of sex abuse cases involving the clergy but hoped his later actions helped victims.
‘‘For a whole raft of reasons, including sexual abuse by some clergy, the church’s credibility has suffered,’’ he said.
Bishop Malone said he had been preoccupied early on in his tenure with guarding the church’s reputation.
‘‘There was a time I was trying to protect the church from a bad reputation, and trying to reach out to victims,’’ Bishop Malone said.
‘‘I came to a decision that you can’t have a foot in both camps.’’
Bishop Malone later became one of the most outspoken critics of sexual abuse cover-ups within the church, troubling some colleagues but winning praise from victims.
The 71-year-old acknowledged he was emotionally drained, disillusioned and ready for retirement for the past year, well before the official pension age for Catholic bishops of 75.
Bishop Malone will not cease to be a pastor in retirement, and said he would like spend time in outback Australia."
***State of the diocese: a mess
Some more media reports of note of 6 April, mostly focusing on the diocese as the apparent epicentre of the abuse scandal in Australia:
Cooees from the Cloister file on 'the Diocese of the Big Drain' aka 'the miasma' - I remembered the proposed joint confirmation with the Anglicans that had to be cancelled on Vatican instructions, but I'd truly forgotten some of the other truly colourful moments of the not that distant past...