Biblical scholar in Brisbane

Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Archbishop Mark Coleridge Contributed

THE biblical scholar who will take the helm of the Brisbane Catholic diocese next month says he is not a "church mouse" and vows to immerse himself in the culture of Brisbane.

Speaking to the media for the first time since he was appointed to the diocese's top role, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, 63, admitted he was embarking on the greatest challenge of his life at an age when most people were retiring.

The Melbourne-born Catholic, who will leave the Canberra diocese to take up the Brisbane post, served in the Secretariat of State at the Vatican and was a chaplain to Pope John Paul II in 2001.

While in Rome he developed "great respect and affection" for former Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby, who retired earlier this year.

Archbishop Coleridge appeared relaxed and confident at his new home in New Farm as he outlined the road ahead.

Seeing the Brisbane diocese as an area of "very rich possibility" and diverse culture, the Archbishop aims to use his "great teaching gift" to educate youth.

"I would be content to be mightily engaged in Catholic educations in the Archdiocese of Brisbane and be in the schools and supporting teachers in whatever way," he said.

"Tribal Catholicism is dead. Simply because you were born in a tribe does not mean that you become Catholic."

Asked if he believed the rules of celibacy in the priesthood could change, the Archbishop said it was "unrealistic".

"I can speak personally and say I have found celibacy in my life something that is deeply creative in a mysterious and counter-cultural way," he said.

"Not only do I not have regrets about the choice I made when I was 25 or younger when I chose celibacy but it I think it has been an empowering thing in my life."

Topics:  brisbane catholic religion

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