POPE Benedict XVI has announced the retirement of Archbishop John Bathersby, as Archbishop of Brisbane, and the appointment of Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore as apostolic administrator of the diocese.
Archbishop Bathersby’s retirement and Bishop Jarrett’s appointment took effect immediately the announcement was made public, at 9pm (Queensland time) on November 14.
In accordance with Canon Law bishops are required to offer their resignation to the Holy Father once they have reached 75 years which Archbishop Bathersby did in July.
Archbishop Bathersby has been Archbishop of Brisbane since December 1991 and was previously Bishop of Cairns, from March 1986.
He said in a statement: “I am pleased that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted my resignation. After 25 years as bishop and 20 as archbishop I am not as active as I used to be.
“It has been a privilege and a lasting joy to have been archbishop in Brisbane with so many excellent bishops, priests, deacons, religious, friends and lay people.
“It was marvellous to have shared the lives of so many Christians and so many people who may not be Christians but do good and care for the poor.”
Archbishop Bathersby thanked “in a special way” the men who were auxiliary bishops when he came to Brisbane “and the hard-working auxiliaries of the present”.
“I welcome my replacement Apostolic Administrator of Brisbane, Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore, and assure him of my support and assistance, if needed,” he said.
“I am confident that he will have the full co-operation of the auxiliary bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity.
“I wish him well as he leads the archdiocese into the future until the Holy Father appoints our new permanent archbishop.
“In the coming weeks I will leave Brisbane for Stanthorpe where I was born. I have no doubt my friendships over many years in Brisbane and Stanthorpe will remain strong.
“I will ensure that my prayers and good wishes will be directed at the huge number of people I have met over many years in Australia and the world. I am a lucky person indeed.
“I have never been happier in my life than being called by God to priesthood and Episcopacy.
“I thank all those people in the archdiocese who helped me enormously. May God bless them forever.”
A spokesperson for the archdiocese said Archbishop Bathersby was well known for his emphasis on prayer, the Eucharist, and the centrality of Jesus, Communion and Mission, as well as a commitment to ecumenism, the importance of the laity, and the absolute need of the promotion of vocations to the priesthood.
In 2008, he made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) for his service to the Catholic Church in Australia, particularly as archbishop of Brisbane, and to the community through the promotion of ecumenical dialogue.
“The calling of an Archdiocesan Synod in 2003 marked a high point in his episcopacy although as initiator of other events such as the Hearts on Fire Conference in 1999, the hugely successful Pray 2010 gathering last year and his work in chairing IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission) he earned plaudits both interstate and overseas,” the archdiocesan spokesperson said.
Archbishop Bathersby will retire to his former hometown of Stanthorpe, and is now accorded the title of Archbishop Emeritus.
Bishop Jarrett will administer the archdiocese in accordance with Church procedures and law until the Pope appoints a new archbishop.
He was born in Kyneton, Victoria, in 1937, worked in London for several years with the Film Unit of BBC Television, and began theological studies for the Anglican Church in Nottinghamshire in 1959.
On returning to Australia he served as an Anglican priest in Queensland until he was received into the Catholic Church in 1965.
He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1970 and ministered for 30 years in Tasmania before being ordained as Co-Adjutor Bishop of Lismore in February 2001 and becoming the Bishop of Lismore in December of that year.