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Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, AustraliaLisa Bourne/LifeSite

AUSTRALIA, February 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian prelate is under investigation for alleged mistreatment of a woman who brought forth information about child abuse in the bishop’s former diocese.

The complaint against Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge dates back to a 2006 meeting in which the unnamed woman informed the then-head of the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn about child abuse.

Coleridge is said to have called the woman a “gossip” and “acted aggressively towards her.”  

Although it has been confirmed that the allegations against Coleridge are being investigated, that didn’t stop the Brisbane Archbishop from having the privilege of being the homilist at the closing Mass for the Vatican’s summit on clergy sexual abuse of minors last weekend.

Coleridge preached in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala Regia on Sunday, saying:  

In abuse and its concealment, the powerful show themselves not men of heaven but men of earth, in the words of St Paul we have heard. In the Gospel, the Lord commands: “Love your enemies.” But who is the enemy? Surely not those who have challenged the Church to see abuse and its concealment for what they really are, above all the victims and survivors who have led us to the painful truth by telling their stories with such courage. At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them. In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy.

Though Coleridge now heads the Brisbane archdiocese, it was agreed that the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn would establish an independent investigation of the allegations.

“Archbishop Mark Coleridge cooperated with the investigation and strongly refuted the allegations,” according to a statement issued by the archdiocese. “When [the complainant] was invited to cooperate with the independent investigation, she chose not to engage with the process.”

“She has instead chosen to take these allegations to the media, which is deeply disappointing,” claims the statement.   

Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been a lightning rod for controversy a number of times in recent years for mocking orthodox prelates and for making infelicitous statements regarding his personal faith and Church teaching:

  • In October 2018, when someone tweeted that “Most people want Jesus as a consultant rather than a King,” Coleridge shockingly remarked, “Not too sure I want (or have) him as either.”
  • A few days later, in response to the backlash of criticism, he doubled down on his claim, saying he does not “favour royalist ideologies.”
  • After Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò published his testimony last summer, Coleridge sent out a tweet mocking the brave Archbishop, derisively suggesting that the Vatican whistleblower thinks he’d make a better pope than Francis.
  • Coleridge also angered Catholics by criticizing orthodox Cardinal Robert Sarah, saying, “With respect, it strikes me that for a man committed to ‘le pouvoir du silence’ His Eminence speaks and writes a lot.” Cardinal Sarah famously authored the book The Power of Silence.
  • Likewise, Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong, who has valiantly stood up for the underground Catholic Church in China, was a target of a Coleridge tweet: “Things can be tough in China, I know,” he said, “but I just wish the Cardinal would smile once in a while.”
  • Archbishop Coleridge stated in 2015 that the Catholic saying “love the sinner, hate the sin” with reference to homosexuality no longer holds since the distinction “no longer communicates” “in the real world” where sexuality is “part of [your] entire being.”
  • He has also argued that using the word “adultery” for remarried divorcees needs to end.
  • He criticized the four dubia cardinals in 2016 for searching for what he called “false clarity” amid “shades of gray.”
  • In 2016 Coleridge’s archdiocese defended the staging of a sexually charged, explicitly anti-Christian ballet and fashion show in a Catholic church.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, now 70 years old, was ordained a priest in 1974 and became an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2002. In 2006, Coleridge was named Archbishop of Canberra & Goulburn, and then became Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane in 2012.


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