Media release, 28 March, 2014
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, expressed sorrow today on the passing of Most Rev. Michael Putney, Bishop of Townsville.
“It is with great sadness that we record the death of Bishop Michael Putney, the dedicated leader of Townsville Diocese. He has been a great and priestly shepherd, a gifted theologian and ecumenist, and a significant contributor to the work of the Australian Bishops,” Archbishop Hart said.
Bishop Putney was admitted to the Mater hospital in Townsville on 21 March 2014, as his condition had deteriorated. He passed away peacefully in hospital at 1am on 28 March 2014.
Bishop Putney was diagnosed with cancer in December 2012. In recent months his illness and health deteriorated.
Expressing condolences Archbishop Hart said: “For the bishops of Australia I extend sympathy to the priests and people of Townsville, and Brisbane where he was auxiliary bishop, and to his many friends.”
“Bishop Michael Putney is a great loss to the Universal Church, and he leaves us with many rich and inspiring memories. May he rest in peace,” Archbishop Hart noted.
On 20 March 2014, Bishop Putney launched his book ‘My Ecumenical Journey’. Despite his illness, this was a joyous occasion for Bishop Putney having dedicated much of his life to promoting and understanding ecumenism in Australia and beyond.
Bishop Putney was ordained a priest in 1969 and ordained a bishop on 27 July 1995, as Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane. He became the fifth Bishop of Townsville in January 2001.
During his time as bishop, he served as a member of the Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Chair of Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation.
Bishop Putney was a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Chairman of the National Council of Churches.
In 2013, Bishop Putney became a member of the Order of Australia on the Queens Birthday Honours list.
Funeral arrangements are currently being finalised in the Diocese of Townsville.
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