Leonard Faulkner

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The Most Reverend
Leonard Faulkner
Archbishop Emeritus of Adelaide
Archdiocese Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide
Installed 19 June 1985
Term ended 3 December 2001
Predecessor James Gleeson
Successor Philip Wilson
Other posts Bishop of Townsville (1967–1983)
Ordination 1 January 1950
Consecration 28 November 1967
Personal details
Born (1926-12-05)5 December 1926
Booleroo Centre, Australia
Died 6 May 2018(2018-05-06) (aged 91)
Nationality Australian

Leonard Anthony Faulkner (5 December 1926 – 6 May 2018) was an Australian Roman Catholic clergyman and the seventh[1] Archbishop of Adelaide. Born in rural South Australia, Faulkner served as an Adelaide parish priest and Bishop of Townsville before being appointed Archbishop of Adelaide in 1985. Upon retiring in 2001, he became Archbishop Emeritus of Adelaide.

Early life[edit]

Faulkner was born in Booleroo Centre, South Australia in 1926.[2] The son of a farm labourer and the eldest of ten siblings, Faulkner did not begin to attend school until he was seven years old, as until then he was considered too young to walk the four kilometres from his house to the local school.[3]

Faulkner was ordained on New Year's Day, 1950 in Rome, along with twelve other priests from around the world.[4] His first posting was to the parish of Woodville, Seaton, Royal Park and Albert Park in Adelaide, South Australia. He served as a chaplain within the Young Christian Workers movement until his consecration as Bishop of Townsville.[3]


On 28 November 1967, Faulkner was consecrated as the Bishop of Townsville in Queensland.[2] In 1983 he returned to Adelaide to assist the ailing Archbishop James Gleeson, and in 1985 he was installed as Gleeson's successor.[4] During his tenure as Archbishop, Faulkner declined to live in the bishop's quarters, instead choosing to reside in a plain house in the Adelaide suburb of Netley.

Controversy regarding communal confession[edit]

In 1999, Faulkner caused controversy when he defied Vatican pressure to cease the practice of communal confession, wherein a priest may grant absolution without hearing individual confessions.[5] Following a meeting with Australian bishops in late 1998, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to all Australian bishops outlining concerns with the relaxed nature of Australian Catholicism. In particular, he formally requested that the bishops eliminate the use of communal confession.[6] While the dioceses of most other capital cities in the country abandoned the practice, Faulkner refused, allowing communal confession during Lent of 1999.[5][7] In June 1999, Faulkner sent a pastoral message to all parishes in the Archdiocese of Adelaide allowing communal confession, but requiring prior approval from the Archbishop.[8] This made Adelaide one of the few places in Australia where communal confession was still practised.[8]


In November 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed the Bishop of Wollongong, Philip Wilson to the position of coadjutor Archbishop of Adelaide, in doing so naming him as Faulkner's successor.[9] On 3 December 2001, two days before his seventy-fifth birthday, Faulkner retired as Archbishop, and Wilson was installed as his successor.[10] As a retired Archbishop, Faulkner retained the title of Archbishop Emeritus. An autobiographical book based on his edited memories, A Listening Ministry, appeared in 2016.[11]


  1. ^ "Archdiocese of Adelaide - History". Archdiocese of Adelaide. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b Schriever, Jordanna (12 November 2007). "Archbishop to mark 40 years as `shepherd'". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  3. ^ a b Harris, Samela (6 January 2000). "A love of life". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  4. ^ a b King, Melissa (20 January 2000). "Golden age for a man and his church". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  5. ^ a b Abraham, Matthew (1 March 1999). "Papal police get confession under duress". The Australian.
  6. ^ Abraham, Matthew (20 March 1999). "Vatican talks tough on Easter confession". The Australian.
  7. ^ Fowler, Andrew (8 March 2009). "The Vatican's Verdict". Four Corners. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b Abraham, Matthew (2 June 1999). "Parishes told third rite is all right". The Australian.
  9. ^ James, Colin (1 December 2000). "Pope appoints Adelaide's new Archbishop". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  10. ^ Harris, Samela (4 December 2001). "Man of people shares welcome mass with 7000". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  11. ^ M. Costigan, Review of A Listening Ministry, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 37 (2), 2016, 261-265.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James William Gleeson
Archbishop of Adelaide
1985 — 2001
Succeeded by
Philip Wilson