Bede Polding (bishop)

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Bede Polding, OSB, (18 October 1794 – 16 March 1877) was the first Roman Catholic Bishop and then Archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

Experiences in Sydney[edit]

Polding and party arrived first in Hobart on 6 August 1835 leaving a priest and a student there and arrived in Sydney on 13 September 1835. Polding travelled widely throughout Australia and was regarded as hard-working; a letter in the Weekly Orthodox Journal (1839) quoted a letter from Sydney: "His labors are incessant, his zeal unbounded, Protestants as well as Catholics revere him as a saint". Polding travelled to Europe in November 1840, during his absence Francis Murphy was appointed vicar-general of the diocese.

Polding was appointed the first bishop of Sydney on 5 April 1842, and Archbishop on 22 April 1842. Despite his many successes as a founding bishop, Polding experienced a degree of resistance from his largely Irish Catholic church in Australia. Even after the English Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, the Irish understood any English leadership (even English Catholic bishops) in sectarian terms.

The British anti-clerical laws of the Reformation Parliament and the Act of Supremacy had bred deep resentment among the Irish of the English, and the consequences of the dissolution of monasteries during the English Reformation had left Polding deeply committed to the primary vision of restoring monasticism in English-speaking lands such as Australia. This was not a vision the Irish—who had managed with great determination to preserve a number of their monastic foundations as well as found the Irish College- necessarily shared as a priority[citation needed] .

Polding traveled again to Rome in 1846 hoping to obtain a coadjutor bishop and Benedictine nuns to help in his diocese. He was successful in these quests and also gained approval for the establishment of Melbourne as a separate see. He died on 16 March 1877 in Sydney, aged 82. His body was initially buried at the Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde, with a contemporary, the Venerable Archpriest Samuel John Austin Sheehy, who died 11 September 1910.

Apart from the many churches he founded, Polding began the construction of the second St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney in 1868, where he was later re-buried. Polding also founded the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in Sydney.

References[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
New title
1st Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
1842–1877
Succeeded by
Roger Bede Vaughan OSB