HUNTER Catholic Bishop Bill Wright will have bypass surgery after a heart attack this week.
The Maitland-Newcastle diocese bishop, 66, is in good spirits and resting in hospital after the Vatican’s representative in Australia, Papal Nuncio Adolfo Yllana, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Catholic schools across the Hunter were advised, a diocese spokesperson said.
The date for the surgery is yet to be confirmed. Vicar General Andrew Doohan, who replaced Brian Mascord who became the Bishop of Wollongong, is acting in Bishop Wright’s place.
“When exercising executive authority, the Vicar General does this in the name of the bishop and in accordance with the ‘mind and will’ of the bishop,” a spokesperson said.
The Vatican is not required to be informed directly but the Archbishop of Sydney and Papal Nuncio are customarily informed.
Bishop Wright was ordained the eighth Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle on June 15, 2011 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.
He stepped into the role at a tumultuous time for the diocese because of issues including child sexual abuse, and after former Bishop Michael Malone sought early retirement in 2009, in part because of the “15 difficult years” of dealing with child sexual abuse from the day he took the position.
Bishop Wright led the diocese through the five years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He was also one of several clergy members on the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, which was acknowledged for its effective leadership during the royal commission.
In September abuse survivor James Miller said he appreciated Bishop Wright’s “sincere and genuine words” in an apology which for the first time acknowledged the late St Pius X, Adamstown principal Father Tom Brennan was a child sex offender.
Mr Miller said he particularly appreciated the bishop’s recognition of the great pain his parents experienced because of the abuse Mr Miller was subjected to by Brennan.
“As a Catholic priest I feel great shame that Tom Brennan, an ordained priest of the Diocese, chose to inflict his sexual desires upon you,” Bishop Wright wrote.
“Brennan and all those who harmed children fundamentally betrayed their vocation. I am sorry.”
Bishop Wright was ordained a priest on August 20, 1977. He served the parishes of Stanmore, Mount Druitt, Fairfield, Enmore, Dulwich Hill, Bonnyrigg, Moree, Sutherland and Liverpool. Since his ordination as bishop he has served as co-chair of the National Committee for Professional Standards.