Bishop vows to go ‘back to basics’

The Diocese of Sale’s newest bishop will assume his role at a tough time for Catholicism in Gippsland.

More than 1200 Catholics will gather to celebrate the ordination of Bishop Pat O’Regan, the ninth bishop of the diocese, on Thursday.

Bishop O’Regan said he looked forward to getting ‘back to basics’ with the Catholic message.

“I’d like to make the Christian message believable and credible because we’ve taken a few body blows recently,” Bishop O’Regan said.

“Because some bad things have happened I’d like to get back to the basics of Christianity and that’s the love of god, love of neighbour.

“It’s not just about being in a holy huddle in a church, but it’s being a part of the world.”

Bishop O’Regan will embark on his new role at a time when alleged sexual abuse history at St Patrick’s Catholic College – now Catholic College Sale – has come under investigation and teachers across Victoria fight for the right for their private lives to have no bearing on their occupations.

Talking to The Express about the alleged sexual abuse of many former Catholic college students, Bishop O’Regan said the church was praying for those affected and would cooperate with all inquiries.

“It’s a terrible thing when this happens because it’s people involved and they get hurt and it shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Bishop O’Regan said.

“It redoubles our efforts to make sure these things never happen again.”

Addressing the ongoing discussions with the Independent Education Union about Catholic school teachers’ rights to be homosexual, live with partners out of wedlock or have children out of wedlock, Bishop O’Regan posed a strong stance on the issue.

He said while it was not a requirement for teachers to be Catholic, they must abide by the ethos of the school and its Catholic morals.

“I’ve been around long enough to realise we all make mistakes and it’s not always easy, but when people sign up for a job in a Catholic organisation it’s no secret that they need to live by the ethos,” Bishop O’Regan said.

“I think that all of us try to have what they call a seamless garment, what that means is there’s consistency in our life, we just don’t have compartments – people hate hypocrites.”

Bishop O’Regan will be ordained on Thursday, 26 February at the Bishop Phelan Stadium, Catholic College Sale.