Retired bishops

Archbishop Emeritus Denis J Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart was born in East Melbourne on 16 May 1941, the eldest of three children of Kevin James Hart and Annie Eileen Larkan. His primary education was at St John’s Marist Brothers, Hawthorn 1946-53 and Xavier College, Kew 1954-59. He studied for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Werribee 1960-63 and Corpus Christi College, Glen Waverley 1963-67. He was ordained to the priesthood at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne on 22 July 1967 by Most Reverend A F Fox DD, the then Auxiliary Bishop.

He was appointed Chaplain at the Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg from 20 December 1967 to 20 January 1968; then Assistant Priest, North Balwyn (1968), Assistant Priest and Master of Ceremonies at St Patrick’s Cathedral (1969-74), on 25 March 1970 he was appointed Prefect of Ceremonies for the Archdiocese of Melbourne (this appointment continued until 17 August 1996). On 25 January 1975 he was appointed Advocate and Notary of the Regional Matrimonial Tribunal, residing in North Richmond Parish (this appointment continued until 1 October 1985). He was Executive Secretary of the National Liturgical Commission of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 1 July 1975 until 1 July 1990. He was responsible for the preparation of official editions of books for worship – the three-volume Lectionary for Mass, the rites of Anointing, Marriage, Funerals, Initiation of Adults, and, in co-operation with publishers, of people’s books for worship.

He was Liturgy Director and Assistant Master of Ceremonies for the whole of the Australian Papal Visit in November 1986.

On 28 January 1987 he was appointed Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, West Brunswick. On 1 September 1996 he became Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia and subsequently Diocesan Consultor; Chairman of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission; Deputy Chairman of the Diocesan Extension and Maintenance Fund; Deputy Chairman of the Diocesan Finance Council; Secretary of the Roman Catholic Trust Corporation for the Diocese of Melbourne; Ex-officio member of the Archbishop’s Personnel Advisory Board; of the Archbishop’s Committee for New Areas in the Archdiocese; a nominee of the Archbishop of Melbourne on the Committee of Catholic Capital Grants.

On 10 November 1997 he was named Titular Bishop of Vagada and Auxiliary Bishop to the Archdiocese of Melbourne and was consecrated on 9 December 1997. As a Bishop he retained all of the above offices and in addition to Diocesan ministries worked in the Southern Region of the Archdiocese. He was Secretary of the Bishops of the Province of Melbourne and a member of the Australian Catholic University.

On 22 June 2001 he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. On 29 June 2001 he received the Pallium in St Peter’s Square, Rome with the other newly appointed Archbishops at the hands of Pope John Paul II. On 1 August 2001 Archbishop Hart took possession of the See of Melbourne.

In the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference he was a member of the Permanent Committee from 2002 to his retirement, and served as chairman of the Bishops’ Commission for Administration and Information (2002-2012), member of the Bishops’ Commission for Liturgy (1998-2012), and Vice President of the Conference (2010-2012). In May 2012 he was elected President of the Australian Bishops Conference, a role in which he served until 2018.

In 2003, he was appointed to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and in 2010 was made Vice President of the Commission.

He took part in the Oceania Synod and Ad Limina visit in 1998, and in Ad Limina Visits in 2004 and 2011. In early 2014 Pope Francis appointed him a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches until 2019, and of the Pontifical Council for Culture. He was also appointed a Member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In 2014 he attended the special Synod on the Family in Rome and in 2015, during the liturgical art and architecture symposium, ‘God is in the Detail’, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference hosted the Hart Lecture in recognition of the outstanding contribution of Archbishop Denis J Hart to the liturgy – locally, nationally and internationally.

On 29 June 2018, Pope Francis accepted his resignation and appointed him Apostolic Administrator until 31 July 2018.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter Elliott

Peter John Elliott was born on 1 October 1943 in Melbourne, the elder son of Reverend Leslie Llewellyn Elliott and Irene Ann (June) Rooke.

After primary education in government schools, he attended Melbourne Grammar School (1956-1961) and subsequently gained a Master of Arts in History at the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts in Theology at the University of Oxford, where he was received into the Catholic Church. He returned to Melbourne in 1969 and studied for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Glen Waverley.

He was ordained a priest by Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore and Papal Legate, on 19th February 1973 during the Fortieth International Eucharistic Congress. He worked as Assistant Priest in Springvale, Lilydale and Mentone, where he was Secretary to Bishop John A. Kelly (1979-1984). He also served briefly as Assistant Priest in East Hampton in 1987.

In 1984 he commenced studies at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Lateran University in Rome and was granted the Degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology in 1986 with a Thesis on the Sacramentality of Marriage.

In April 1987 he returned to Rome to be an Official of the Pontifical Council for the Family and was appointed a Chaplain of His Holiness in 1992. During ten years of Vatican service he travelled extensively and was involved in international courses and conferences on the family and marriage in all continents, including the United Nations Conference on Population held in Cairo (1994), the United Nations Social Summit held in Copenhagen, and the United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing (1995).

In December 2001 he was appointed Parish Priest of East Malvern. In 2002 he was appointed a member of the International Commission for Catechetics of the Congregation for the Clergy.

In 2004 he was named Director of the Melbourne Session of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family and in 2005 he was appointed a Prelate of Honour and subsequently an Auditor at the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in October of that year.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as Titular Bishop of Manaccenser and Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 2007 and he was consecrated on 15 June 2007.

In the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Elliott served as Deputy of the Australian Catholic Disability Council, a member of the Bishops’ Commission for Liturgy and in 2009 was appointed the Delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for the setting up of a Personal Ordinariate for Former Anglicans. He is a member of the Vatican commission Anglicanae Traditiones, preparing an “Anglican Use” of the Roman Rite for the Ordinariates.

In his role as Episcopal Vicar for Religious Education, he continues his theological oversight as the General Editor of the Archdiocesan Religious Education Texts, To Know, Worship and Love, and has authored a number of books and articles in the fields of theology, Church history, catechetics, liturgy, marriage and the family, apologetics and demography.

In November 2018, upon reaching the retirement age of 75, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Elliott’s resignation.