Australian priest made consultor on worship, O’Malley appointed to CDF

By Catholic News Service January 19, 2017


 Fr Robert McCulloch SSC, speaking at the Polding Centre in Sydney on 31 August 2016.

Photo: Giovanni Portelli

About Fr McCulloch SSC

Australian priest, Fr Robert McCulloch, has been named a consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in papal appointments made on 14 January.

The Melbourne-born priest, who spent decades ministering in Pakistan before becoming procurator general of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Rome, was one of 17 new consultors — 10 priests or male religious, five laymen and two laywomen — appointed to the congregation.

Others include Donna Orsuto, a US professor of spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Jesuit artist and theologian Father Marko Rupnik, who is the director of Rome’s Centro Aletti, a community of scholars and artists committed to bridging Eastern and Western traditions through theological dialogue, research, reflection and publication.

The pope also named as a consultor British Mgr. Bruce Harbert, who had served as executive secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy — the body that seeks to develop unified English translations of the prayers used at Mass, for the celebration of the sacraments and other liturgies.


In perhaps his most significant new appointment, Pope Francis named Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, to be a member of the Holy See’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cardinal O’Malley, the 72-year-old archbishop of Boston, is one of the eight members of the Council of Cardinals who has been assisting Pope Francis with the reform of the administration of the Roman Curia, and now he joins 26 other cardinal and bishop members, and 28 consulting theologians, in advising the doctrinal congregation.

The congregation deals with doctrinal questions as well as the application of Catholic moral teaching. But it also is charged with coordinating efforts to rid the church of sexual abuse and with monitoring or conducting cases against individual abusers.

While the congregation members offer their expertise on the many questions the office considers pressing, Cardinal O’Malley’s experience leading three US dioceses confronting the abuse of minors by clergy will be important, US Mgr. Robert Oliver, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told Catholic News Service on 17 January.

Mgr. Oliver, who once worked as the chief prosecutor of sex abuse crimes when he was promoter of justice at the doctrinal congregation, worked on the abuse crisis in his home Archdiocese of Boston with Cardinal O’Malley.

The cardinal will bring “the experience of local bishops who have been there” in terms of handling abuse accusations, and will help the congregation as it deals with new cases coming in from different parts of the world, the monsignor said.


Australian Columban Fr. Robert McCulloch, SSC,

Consultor to the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Fr. Bob was born in 1946 in Alexandra, Victoria, Australia to Bruce John McCulloch and Jean Frances Crowe. He was educated at St Patrick’s School, Mentone, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Primary School, Cheltenham, and St Bede’s College, Mentone, Australia.

He entered the Society of St Columban in 1964, spending his initial year of probation in Sassafras, Victoria. He began his studies at St Columban's Seminary in Sydney in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1970. In 1976 he received a Master of Arts in Church History of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He also studied in St. Anselm’s Pontifical University in Rome; his dissertation is called Nec Solum Presbiteris sed … etiam omnibus Christianis: A study on the minister of the sacrament of the sick from the time of Bede until the present. Rome 2001

 Since 1978 he has worked to increase the education and basic health care of the poor and mainly non-Christian people of Pakistan.

Fr. Bob has served in two Diocese of Hyderabad parishes: Kotri, a rural area 100 miles (160 km) east of Karachi; and Machar Colony, a community of 300 Catholic families in the slums of Hyderabad. After a spell in Badin, he started working with the semi-nomadic Hindu tribe of Parkari Kohli in Tharparkar District. During this period, McCulloch helped the tribe design an alphabet for their language, for which he called on two linguists for their help. After the local population had opted for using the Sindhi alphabet, with a few minor changes, people gathered proverbs and sayings and launched the first Parkari Kohli newspaper, Prem Paracha. In this he helped to save the native language and culture.

Fr. Bob has had as a goal of his ministry the improvement of health care in the country. He sat on the administrative board for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Hyderabad. He has established an outreach medical program at the hospital to provide vaccinations for infants and children, medical care for their mothers, and diagnosis and care of tuberculosis patients.

He has also developed schools in Pakistan that are now attended by more than 550 children. He has chaired the Board of Governors for the Centre of Academic Excellence, a project he initiated in 2007 to provide educational, spiritual, moral and personal formation for 100 Catholic boys.

Fr. Bob has lectured at the National Catholic Institute of Theology in Karachi, Pakistan in liturgy and church history.

He has established a palliative care unit. It is the first home-based palliative care unit for the terminally ill in Pakistan.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Victoria, through its overseas development initiatives, is providing ongoing financial support for Fr. McCulloch’s health and educational programs.

In October 2012, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella launched Parts I and II of the Catholic Catechism in Urdu. McCulloch was involved in its translation from 2004 to 2012. Along with Emmanuel Neno this work was completed in 2014. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has approved the Urdu translation and authorized its publication. The translation took 13 years to complete.

On 15 February 2012, the President of Pakistan approved conferment of Sitara class of the Nishan-e-Quaid-i-Azam on McCulloch for his services to Pakistan in health and education.

On 25 March 2012, more than 600 people gathered at St Anthony's Church in Karachi for a special Mass to celebrate Sister John Berchmans Conway RJM and McCulloch receiving the country's highest civilian award.

In 2013 Fr, Bob was appointed to Rome as the Procurator General of the Society of St Columban.


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