Caritas Australia, the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church, has joined the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in paying tribute to the former Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer.
A prominent Catholic, Mr Fischer had a long career in New South Wales and Australian Parliaments. He was educated by the Jesuits at Xavier College in Melbourne.
In 2008, he was appointed Australia’s first full-time ambassador to the Holy See. Before Fischer’s appointment, Australia was the only G20 country without a Vatican representative.
His love of trains which he spoke about fondly during an interview with the Melbourne Catholic, saw him help organise a steam train trip on the so-called “Caritas Express” from the Pope’s platform to Orvieto in the Umbrian hills, north of Rome.
“I spearheaded the running of an extraordinary train, the first train for many years out of the Vatican, the Caritas Express,” he said.
“We charged ambassadors 100 Euros each and donations went to emergency appeals such as the Haiti Earthquake appeal—so, for the first time ever paying passengers were allowed on to the Pope’s platform; that was in May 2011 and in October 2011 the Pope went up to Assisi by train from that platform and back. Everything worked a treat.”
Bernard Holland, Caritas Australia’s Acting CEO, said Mr Fischer had a strong heart for social justice.
“Tim Fischer was a friend of Caritas and a man with great humanity. He also had a reputation for working to help the marginalised globally,” Mr Holland said.
With thanks to Caritas Australia.