Ozanam Lecture Part 4: Conclusion

1 June 2018
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv recently met Pope Francis at the ICMC meeting in Rome on 6-8 March 2018. Image: L’Osservatore Romano.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Address for the 2018 Annual St Vincent de Paul Ozanam Conversation, East Melbourne, 26 April 2018


“How does the Catholic welfare sector continue with ‘good works’ post the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?”




We are witnessing a profound transition in the church. It is being reborn beyond the clerical structures. There needs to be a bold and strong leadership at all levels to steer the church to a more humble, inclusive and compassionate model moving forward. There is also a need for committed people like yourselves to act like critical yeast in critical time. The Australian Democrats had a slogan “Keep the bastards honest”. The church needs prophetic voices, even voices from the margins and from outside the tent, to keep its leaders honest, transparent and accountable. The Pope needs voices of women like Mary McAleese to remind him of the many disillusioned Catholic women (and men) who yearn for a more inclusive church. Jesus himself was taken to task by a Canaanite woman after he had made uncharacteristically derogatory remarks about her race. “Even the dogs deserve the scraps from the master’s table” (Matthew 15:27). With these words, she challenged the narrow tribal understanding of God. And Jesus praised her for her courage to speak truth to power.

I’d like to think of this critical juncture as analogous to the biblical exile to which as a former refugee I have a personal affinity. The exile was about facing the death of the old and giving birth to the new. The biggest lesson the exiles learned was seeking God’s justice for the poor and the lowly. They learned to be a society in which the care of the most marginalised was to be the essential distinguishing feature.

St Vincent de Paul is uniquely placed to facilitate the rebirth and transformation of the church. Drawing on the example and legacy of Frederic, we too can shine the light of the Gospel to the social challenges in today’s world. We too can hold the church to account on the litmus test of its mission, which is the care of the least of our brothers and sisters. Then we can rise to being the church that Christ calls us to be, moving forward: an oasis for the weary and troubled, a field hospital for the wounded, a refuge for the oppressed and a voice for the voiceless.

Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta

To read Part 3 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.

To read the full text of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.


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