Friday, May 05, 2006

Oz Gets Its Chieftain

As buzzed here earlier in the week, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has elected its new president at the close of the plenary session in Sydney.

And the winner is: Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide.

On sharing the news with an Aussie friend who hadn't yet heard, he said, "You're joking -- that's marvelous!" Wilson's high regard as a straight-shooter with a sense of humor (in the Australian tradition) has earned him a high regard far beyond the bench of bishops; in his previous assignment of Wollongong -- a diocese marred by massive abuse cases -- it's been said that Wilson, 55, "managed to satisfy not only the victims but also the clergy that there was no witchhunt."

"In fact," one priest says, "his work against the abusers, led to the local underworld trying to kill him as he was affecting their revenue stream."

Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth was elected vice-president, and Cardinal George Pell was chosen as one of six members of the ACBC's permanent committee.