Pallium ceremony a boost for Australian evangelization

Rome, Italy, Jun 29, 2012 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane believes that the June 29 pallium ceremony in Rome will provide a significant boost to the work of re-evangelizing Australia.

“It's a shot in the arm at a time when I think we need that,” he told CNA in Rome.

Archbishop Coleridge will be one of 43 new archbishops who will receive the pallium from Pope Benedict at St. Peter’s basilica. The woven strip of white lamb’s wool symbolizes the authority given to an archbishop by the Pope.

The archbishop noted that the pallium “is a call not just to me as the archbishop who wears it but it is a call to whole Church to be more apostolic and you can only become more apostolic by entering into deeper communion with the See of Peter.”

“If you separate yourself from the see of Peter then it becomes impossible to fulfill the apostolic task entrusted to the Church by Jesus.”

Joining him at Friday’s ceremony will be his fellow Australian, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth. Both were only appointed by Pope Benedict in recent months.

“I’ve been saying that in my meager six weeks in Brisbane that we are at a time in the Church in Australia – and in Brisbane in particular in my case – that we have to become more missionary,” said Archbishop Coleridge.

The 63-year-old Melbourne born cleric believes that Catholicism in Australia has to fight the temptation to “become more introverted and circle the wagons” despite some signs that “the Church seems to be diminishing in some way” at least institutionally.  

Instead, he said, “this is a time to roll the wagons out in new territory in new and more imaginative ways” by becoming a “genuinely and more deeply apostolic Church.”

Before taking over the helm in Brisbane, Archbishop Coleridge spent six years as Archbishop of the Canberra–Goulburn while before that he was Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.

He firmly believes that renewal of the Australian Church will come through being rooted in prayer and scripture and then finding “new and imaginative ways of engaging the culture.”

However, the question to be asked of every evangelization activity must be “what has this got to do with Jesus?”

“Now it’s an embarrassingly simple question but it’s a crucial question because given how busy we are in our parishes and diocese sometimes we forget Jesus and we really forget what we’re on about.”

Archbisop Coleridge is no stranger to Rome having served in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State for five years before being appointed to Melbourne in 2002. On this week’s visit he’s brought 30 pilgrims from his new archdiocese, many of them key officials in his chancery.

“My hope would be that they will understand more deeply what it means to call the Church ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic’,” he said, “No place will teach you better than Rome what those four words mean.”

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