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

Denis James Hart

Archbishop Emeritus of Melbourne
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed22 June 2001
Installed1 August 2001
Term ended29 June 2018
PredecessorGeorge Pell
SuccessorPeter 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
ResidenceSaint Patrick's Cathedral
Previous post
Alma mater
MottoConstant in Faith
Styles of
Denis James Hart
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Grace or My Lord Archbishop
Religious styleArchbishop

Early years and backgroundEdit

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.

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]


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]

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]


  1. ^ a b c "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
  4. ^
  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".
  7. ^
  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