Denis Hart

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Denis James Hart

Archbishop Emeritus of Melbourne
Church Roman Catholic Church
Appointed22 June 2001
Installed1 August 2001
Term ended29 June 2018
Predecessor George Pell
Successor Peter Comensoli
Ordination22 July 1967
by Arthur Francis Fox
Consecration9 December 1997
by George Pell
Personal details
Birth nameDenis James Hart
Born (1941-05-16) 16 May 1941 (age 78)
East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Residence Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Previous post
Alma mater
MottoConstant in Faith
Styles of
Denis James Hart
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Grace or My Lord Archbishop
Religious style Archbishop

Denis James Hart (born 16 May 1941) is an Australian prelate of the Catholic Church. He was Archbishop of Melbourne from 2001 to 2018.

Prelate High-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means 'carry before', 'be set above or over' or 'prefer'; hence, a prelate is one set over others.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

Archbishop Bishop of higher rank in many Christian denominations

In Christianity, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of England, the title is borne by the leader of the denomination. Like popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, cardinal bishops, diocesan bishops, and suffragan bishops, archbishops are in the highest of the three traditional orders of bishops, priests, and deacons. An archbishop may be granted the title or ordained as chief pastor of a metropolitan see or another episcopal see to which the title of archbishop is attached.


Early years and background

Hart was born in East Melbourne, Victoria, the eldest of the three children of Kevin and Annie Hart. Educated at St John's Marist Brothers, in Hawthorn and Xavier College in Kew. He commenced study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College between 1960 and 1967.

East Melbourne, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

East Melbourne is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, 2 km east of Melbourne's Central Business District. Its local government area is the City of Melbourne.

Marist Brothers Catholic religious institute of brothers and affiliated lay people

The Marist Brothers of the Schools, commonly known as simply the Marist Brothers, is an international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers. In 1817, St. Marcellin Champagnat, a priest from France, founded the Marist Brothers, with the goal of educating young people, especially those most neglected. While most of the Brothers minister in school settings, others work with young people in parishes, religious retreats and spiritual accompaniment, at-risk youth settings, young adult ministry and overseas missions.

Hawthorn, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Hawthorn is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) east of Melbourne's central business district situated in the City of Boroondara. At the 2016 Census, Hawthorn recorded a population of 23,511.

Ordained at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne in 1967, Hart served as a hospital chaplain, an assistant parish priest and then master of ceremonies at St Patrick's Cathedral. He supervised the preparation of the books used in worship, including the lectionary for Mass. He was liturgy director and assistant master of ceremonies for the 1986 Papal Visit to Australia. [1] In 1987 Hart became a parish priest and in 1996 he became Vicar General and Moderator of the curia. He has served in the parishes of North Balwyn, North Richmond and West Brunswick. In 1997, he was consecrated a bishop and made an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. [1]

St Patricks Cathedral, Melbourne Church in Melbourne, Australia

The Cathedral Church and Minor Basilica of Saint Patrick is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and seat of its archbishop, currently Peter Comensoli.

Lectionary book of scripture readings for a particular day or occasion

A lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion. There are sub-types such as a "gospel lectionary" or evangeliary, and an epistolary with the readings from the New Testament Epistles.

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as in some Lutheran, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox, and Old Catholic churches.


During 2001 Hart was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne, replacing George Pell who became the Archbishop of Sydney. On 29 June 2001, he received the pallium from Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square. [1]

George Pell Australian cardinal of the Catholic Church and convicted child sex offender

George Pell is an Australian cardinal of the Catholic Church and convicted child sex offender. He served as the inaugural prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy between 2014 and 2019, and was a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers between 2013 and 2018. Ordained in 1966 and created a cardinal in 2003, Pell has previously served as the eighth Archbishop of Sydney (2001–2014), the seventh Archbishop of Melbourne (1996–2001) and an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne (1987–1996). He has also been an author, columnist and public speaker. Since 1996 Pell has maintained a high public profile on a wide range of issues, while retaining a strict adherence to Catholic orthodoxy. His views on the environment, and global warming in particular, are inconsistent with scientific consensus.

Catholic Bishops and Archbishops of Sydney

This is a list of the Bishops and Archbishops of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney since 1842. The title also is the Catholic Primate of Australia.

Pallium an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church: a narrow band, seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y and decorated with six black crosses

The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by the Holy See upon metropolitans and primates as a symbol of their conferred jurisdictional authorities, and still remains papal emblems. Schoenig, Steven A., SJ. Bonds of Wool: The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-8132-2922-5. In its present form, the pallium is a long and "three fingers broad" white band adornment, woven from the wool of lambs raised by Trappist monks. It is donned by looping its middle around one's neck, resting upon the chasuble and two dependent lappets over one's shoulders with tail-ends on the left with the front end crossing over the rear. When observed from the front or rear the pallium sports a stylistic letter 'y'. It is decorated with six black crosses, one near each end and four spaced out around the neck loop. At times the pallium is embellished fore and aft with three gold gem-headed stickpins. The doubling and pinning on the left shoulder likely survive from the Roman pallium. The pallium and the omophor originate from the same vestment, the latter a much larger and wider version worn by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite. A theory relates origination to the paradigm of the Good Shepherd shouldering a lamb, a common early Christian art image — but this may be an explanation a posteriori, however the ritual preparation of the pallium and its subsequent bestowal upon a pope at coronation suggests the shepherd symbolism. The lambs whose fleeces are destined for pallia are solemnly presented at altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes and ultimately the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere weave their wool into pallia.

Within the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, he has been a member of the Permanent Committee since 2002, 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). He has been chair of the ad hoc committee for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross since 2010. [2] In May 2012, he was elected President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for two years. [3] He has been a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy since 2003 and its Vice President (2010-2014). He took part in the Oceania Synod and Ad Limina visit in 1998 and Ad Limina visits in 2004 and 2011. In 2007 Hart expressed that he was troubled by the remarks of St Pats Priest Geoff Baron. [4]

During 2016, Hart urged schools to be sensitive and respectful to students who want to invite a same-sex date to school dance nights. "These are quite often emotional situations and it's very important that we always have respect for the dignity of the human being involved", he said when Fairfax asked for his response to a previously unreported case at the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy. [5]

He was appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. [6]

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on 29 June 2018.

Hart requested a Melbourne parish priest stand down while the priest is looked into by civil authorities for allegedly violating child safety laws. [7]


In 2009 during a court case, Hart was accused of having told a woman to "Go to hell, bitch" when she had knocked on his door in the middle of the night in 2004. [8] [9] On the ABC on 14 November 2013, Hart acknowledged making the comment, then immediately asserting that he always followed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. He apologised for it and described it as unfortunate. [10]

In May 2013, Hart appeared at a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse. He commented, in regard to why it took eighteen years to have a priest laicised for sexually abusing children, "Better late than never." [11]

On 15 August 2017 the Archbishop stated that if the law was changed to require clergy to report child sexual abuse learned of during confessionals he would break the law and not report such abuse. [12]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Biography of Archbishop Denis J. Hart". Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  2. "Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne: Church in Melbourne, Australia > Archbishop > Biography".
  3. Link text
  5. Dobbin-Thomas, Marika (22 January 2016). "Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart gives green light to gay couples at Catholic school formals" via The Age.
  6. "Rinunce e nomine".
  8. McKenzie, Nick (11 August 2009). "Sex abuse victim told to 'go to hell'". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  9. Lauder, Simon (11 August 2009). "Archbishop told abuse victim to 'go to hell': report". AM (ABC radio). Australia. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  10. "Archbishop apologises for Catholic Church's handling of sexual abuse", Lateline, ABC website, 14 November 2013.
  11. "Better late than never", The Australian newspaper.
  12. "Why an archbishop and a priest wouldn't report a confession to police". 15 August 2017.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
George Pell
Archbishop of Melbourne
Succeeded by
Peter Comensoli