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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

Archdiocese of Melbourne
Archidioecesis Melburnensis
Country Australia
Territory Melbourne
Ecclesiastical province Melbourne
Metropolitan Melbourne
Area 27,194 km2 (10,500 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
1,085,000 ( 28.2%)
Parishes 219
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 31 March 1874
Cathedral St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
Patron saint St. Patrick
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Denis James Hart
Auxiliary Bishops Terence Curtin,[1]
Peter John Elliott,
Vincent Long Van Nguyen, O.F.M. Conv.,
Mark Stuart Edwards, O.M.I.
Emeritus Bishops Joseph O'Connell,
Hilton Deakin
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is a Latin Rite metropolitan archdiocese, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Erected initially in 1847 as the Diocese of Melbourne, a suffragan diocese of Archdiocese of Sydney, the diocese was elevated in 1874 as an archdiocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Melbourne and is responsible for the suffragan dioceses of Sale, Sandhurst and Ballarat. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Ss Peter and Paul and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart are attached to the archdiocese, for administrative purposes. St Patrick's Cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Melbourne, currently Denis Hart.

According to the 2006 Commonwealth Census figures, there were 4,932,423 people within the province. Of these, 1,349,828 were Catholic, about 28% of the population.[2]


  • History 1
  • Ordinaries 2
  • Current bishops 3
  • Other information 4
  • Sexual abuse 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


When Melbourne, then called the Port Philip Settlement, and the surrounding area was being settled by European settlers in the 1830s, the area was a part of the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Sydney in the Archdiocese of Sydney. In 1839, John Polding, the Archbishop of Sydney, placed Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan in charge of the Port Philip Settlement and the first Mass was celebrated in Melbourne on Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 1839. The entire population of Port Philip in 1841 was 11,738 and the Catholics numbered 2,411.[3]

The oldest surviving Catholic church in Victoria, St Francis Catholic Church, was built in 1841.

The Diocese of Melbourne was created in 1848 out of territory of the then Sydney archdiocese, with James Alipius Goold as its first bishop. The Catholic population of the colony was 18,000 in 1851 and had grown to 88,000 by 1857 as a result of the gold rush.[3] James Goold was also instrumental in setting up many Catholic schools in the diocese and in introducing to the diocese several religious orders devoted to education and works of charity, including the Society of Jesus, the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy, the Good Shepherd Nuns, the Presentation Sisters, the Faithful Companions of Jesus and the Little Sisters of the Poor.[3]

When Goold was appointed Bishop of Melbourne in 1848, St Francis' Church became the cathedral church of the new diocese. Construction of a new church on Eastern Hill in East Melbourne commenced in 1858, to be called St Patrick's Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral was not completed until 1939.

On 30 March 1874, the dioceses of Sandhurst (comprising four parishes) and Ballarat were formed out of territory of the Diocese of Melbourne, with the Diocese of Melbourne becoming a metropolitan archdiocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Melbourne and responsible for Sandhurst and Ballarat dioceses as suffragan dioceses. The suffragan Diocese of Sale was similarly formed in 26 April 1887 out of the archdiocese.

Under Goold's successor, Thomas Joseph Carr, additional teaching orders were introduced to the archdiocese, including the Marist Brothers, the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of Loreto, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. In 1887, 11,661 pupils attended Catholic schools of the archdiocese and that number had grown to 25,369 by 1908. The Catholic population of the archdiocese according to government census returns of 1901 was 145,333.[3]

Until the mid-twentieth century, the Catholics of the archdiocese were almost all Irish or of Irish origin. The priesthood was exclusively Irish until the early part of the twentieth century, when training of native born priests began.


The following individuals were Archbishops of Melbourne, with one being a cardinal while in office as archbishop, as well as having civilian honours. Their highest title is shown here:[4]

Order Name Title Date enthroned Reign ended Term of office Reason for term end
1 James Goold, OSA Bishop of Melbourne 9 July 1847 31 March 1874 26 years, 265 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 31 March 1874 11 June 1886 12 years, 72 days Died in office
2 Thomas Joseph Carr Archbishop of Melbourne 29 September 1886 6 May 1917 30 years, 219 days Died in office
Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Australia 1912 1917 5 years Resigned
3 Daniel Mannix Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne 1 July 1912 6 May 1917 4 years, 309 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 6 May 1917 6 November 1963 46 years, 184 days Died in office
Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Australia
4 Justin Simonds Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne 6 September 1942 6 November 1963 21 years, 61 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 6 November 1963 13 May 1967 3 years, 188 days Retired and appointed Archbishop Emeritus of Melbourne
5 James Cardinal Knox Archbishop of Melbourne 13 April 1967 1 July 1974 4 years, 309 days Elevated to Prefect of the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Vallicella 5 March 1973 26 June 1983 10 years, 113 days Died in office
Prefect of the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship 25 January 1974 4 August 1981 7 years, 191 days Elevated to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family 4 August 1981 26 June 1983 1 year, 326 days Died in office
6 Sir Frank Little, KBE Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne 16 November 1972 1 July 1974 1 year, 227 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 1 July 1974 16 July 1996 22 years, 15 days Resigned and appointed Archbishop Emeritus of Melbourne
7 AC Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne 30 March 1987 16 July 1996 9 years, 108 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 6 July 1996 26 March 2001 4 years, 253 days Elevated to Archbishop of Sydney
8 Denis Hart Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne 10 November 1997 22 June 2001 3 years, 224 days Elevated to Archbishop of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne 22 June 2001 present 14 years, 364 days n/a

Current bishops

The present archbishop of the archdiocese is Denis Hart. He is assisted by several auxiliary bishops:

There are also emeritus auxiliary bishops:

Monsignor Greg Bennet was appointed Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the archdiocese in February 2012.

Bishop Les Tomlinson was the auxiliary bishop for the Eastern Region until he was installed as Bishop of Sandhurst in March 2012.[6]

Bishop Tim Costelloe SDB was appointed as an auxiliary bishop in April 2007 with responsibility for the northern region of the archdiocese. On 20 February 2012 Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to Archbishop of Perth, Western Australia.

Other information

There are 232 parishes in the archdiocese and 369 diocesan priests. The archdiocese has a total of 294 priests in religious orders, 199 religious brothers and 1,323 religious sisters.

There is one seminary for diocesan clergy, Corpus Christi College, and three seminaries for religious clergy.

There are 331 Catholic schools in the archdiocese - 256 primary, 69 secondary and six special schools. According to the 1998 census, there were 136,387 students enrolled in Catholic schools in the archdiocese - 77,636 in primary schools and 58,751 in secondary schools.

Within the archdiocese, there are 10 Catholic hospitals, 18 homes for children, 27 for the elderly and 10 for other purposes.[2]

Sexual abuse

The archdiocese has been the scene of a series of sexual abuse cases which have come to light in recent years and have also extended to many regional Catholic jurisdictions, both in Australia and around the world. [7] Archbishop Denis Hart was cross examined for three hours at the Parliamentary Inquiry over documents sent to the inquiry by victims and whistleblowers within the archdiocese.[8] ABC 7.30 Report footage of the hearing[9] The inquiry's report was due to be delivered to the Victorian parliament in September 2013.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Facts". Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. 
  3. ^ a b c d Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Melbourne
  4. ^ "Archdiocese of Melbourne". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "New Bishop of Sandhurst" (Press release). Diocese of Sandhurst. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

  • Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
  •  "Melbourne".  
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