AUSTRALIA: BISHOP GRECH DIES AGE 62 TO BLOOD DISORDER
ONE of Australia's youngest Roman Catholic bishops, a tireless worker with young people and refugees, has died in a Melbourne hospital.
Bishop Joseph, bishop of the Sandhurst diocese in northern Victoria, died on Monday aged 62 following the recurrence of a blood disorder.
He had served the diocese, based in Bendigo, since 2001 and was the bishops' delegate for youth and young adults and for migrants and refugees.
Bishop Grech was ordained in 1975 and appointed a bishop in 1998.
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson, said Bishop Grech was an "exceptional pastor".
"He has made a tremendous contribution to the church in Australia because of his deep faith and spirituality, which has been shown especially in the zeal with which he dealt with issues of migrants and refugees and his outreach to young people," he said in a statement.
Speaking from Rome, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer, said Bishop Grech was one of Australia's youngest bishops.
He said the Sandhurst diocese and Australia had lost "a very dedicated bishop and citizen" who greatly inspired people, especially the young.
"Only in October he was larger than life here in Rome, leading a group of Sandhurst pilgrims to the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop," Mr Fischer said.
"He returned to Australia via Malta, where he was born in 1948 and where in November 2010 he attended and helped with the ordination of Sandhurst priest, Father Robert Gallea.
"In the decade he was bishop of Sandhurst, he gave generous, warm and open leadership, which will be hugely missed."
Bishop Grech found himself enmeshed in controversy earlier this year and apologised over a breach of confidentiality in connection with a woman's statement that she had an affair with her parish priest.
The Age reported in June that Bishop Grech, in naming the Eaglehawk woman, Michelle Goldsmith, had broken the rule designed to protect a clerical abuse victim.
The parish president had told The Age that Bishop Grech indicated Mrs Goldsmith was "crazy" when the bishop twirled his finger around the side of his head and said "that girl needs professional help".
Bishop Grech conceded he was sanctioned for talking with the parish president, but told The Age he was concerned only for Mrs Goldsimith's welfare and had "no wish ... to undermine anybody".
His letter to Mrs Goldsmith said he regretted the distress caused by his general "interaction with you'.
A mass was held for Bishop Grech at Bendigo's Sacred Heart Cathedral this evening.