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The Southern Cross : December 2011
Archbishop Philip Wilson -- celebrating 10 years Catholic Charities congratulates Archbishop Philip Wilson on his 10 years as leader of the Archdiocese. Over this period, more than 30,000 people a year have been helped by the agencies that receive the financial support provided by Catholic Charities. As the Archbishop's charity, and with gratitude for his support over these 10 years, we also thank each donor, carer and volunteer who has enabled such a difference to be made to so many people's lives. Thank you all. Catholic Charities Congratulations Archbishop Wilson December 2011 Page 11 www.thesoutherncross.org.au On December 3 Archbishop Philip Wilson celebrated his 10th anniversary as bishop of the Adelaide Archdiocese. Here he gives Jenny Brinkworth an insight into his life and work over the past decade. Pile upon pile of books in his study -- not just on shelves but scattered over tables -- is evidence that Archbishop Philip Wilson is an avid reader. Despite his hectic schedule as Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide and head of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, he still finds time to read not one but a number of books at any given time. "Some books I finish but I am always reading many, many books at the one time and some I've been reading for years -- I read a bit and then go back to them," he explains. As for his preferred topic (his favourite book is the Bible), that would be history and amongst the various books he is reading at the moment, there is bound to be one on military history. "I'm very interested in history and I set myself a little task when I came here (to Adelaide) that I would concentrate my historical reading on Australian military history in World War I and World War II," he says. "As a kid I was interested in it -- I was born just five years after the war ended and was surrounded by people who had been in the war. And I suppose I have a mind that is searching, I'm interested in the facts and why things are the way they are or worked out the way they did." His fascination with history has had a strong impact on his thinking. "One of the things that strikes me is that the world is concurrently beautiful and frightening -- human nature can be both good and bad," he says. "The situation is so extreme in wartime that it manifests the best and worst of humanity. You see time and time again in the midst of absolute horror that someone makes the choice to do what's right." He draws parallels with the way the Nazis treated Jews and other minority groups with contemporary society and the devaluing of life. "People (in Nazi Germany) were conditioned towards hatred and a view in life that there were first grade human beings, second grade human beings and as you go down the scale you can do whatever you want to them," he says. "We have exactly the same challenges in our contemporary society in terms of right to life issues, whereby some people's lives are valued and others aren't." But his literary tastes go beyond the factual, to what he describes as "an enduring interest in Shakespeare". His love affair with all things Shakespearian began when he was 14 and a schoolboy boarding at St Joseph's College in Hunter's Hill. "I was taken to see Othello in Sydney and I can remember the emotion of it all and how this man's life and his relationship with his wife were ruined by lies. It was just a terrific insight into human nature. "When I was in Washington DC recently I went to see a series of Shakespeare comedies that were also beautiful insights into human nature and love." On a day when he had just flown back from a Bishops Conference meeting in Sydney, had back-to-back meetings with Diocesan staff and was scheduled to leave early the next morning for a school building opening in Yorketown, the Archbishop was at a loss to explain how he maintained a balance in his life as he tried to eat his lunch. Continued on page 12. Living by the book