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Anthony Fisher

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The Most Reverend
Anthony Fisher
Archbishop of Sydney
Anthony Fisher appearing on "After Dark" on 30 May 1994.jpg
Appearing on British television discussion programme After Dark in May 1994
Archdiocese Sydney
Province Ecclesiastical Province of Sydney
Metropolis Sydney
Appointed 18 September 2014
Installed 12 November 2014
Predecessor George Pell
Other posts Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life
Ordination 14 September 1991
by Eusebius Crawford
Consecration 3 September 2003
by George Pell
Rank Archbishop
Personal details
Birth name Anthony Colin Fisher[1]
Born (1960-03-10) 10 March 1960 (age 58)
Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Occupation Bishop
Previous post
  • Bishop of Parramatta (2010-2014)
  • Titular Bishop of Buruni (2003-2010)
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney (2003-2010)
Alma mater
Motto Veritatem facientes in caritate
("Speaking the truth in love")
Coat of arms Anthony Fisher's coat of arms
Styles of
Anthony Fisher
Coat of arms of Anthony Fisher.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend Monsignor
Spoken style Your Grace or My Lord Archbishop
Religious style Archbishop

Anthony Colin Fisher OP (born 10 March 1960) is an Australian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church and a friar of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). Since 12 November 2014, he has been the ninth Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. He served as the third Bishop of Parramatta from 4 March 2010 to 12 November 2014, having previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Fisher holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with first-class honours and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney. He was a practicing solicitor with the law firm Clayton Utz prior to joining the Dominicans. He subsequently studied for a Bachelor of Theology degree with first-class honours at Yarra Theological Union, a member institution of the Melbourne College of Divinity (now called the University of Divinity). He later obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in bioethics from University College, Oxford while residing at Blackfriars Hall.

Early life and education

Fisher was born the eldest of five children in Crows Nest, Sydney, to Gloria Maguregui, whose father was of Spanish Basque origin, while her mother was half Italian and half Romanian, she migrated with her family to Australia from Asia in the 1950s – and Colin Fisher, a pharmacist from Ashfield with Anglo-Irish roots.[2] He was baptised at St Therese's Church, Lakemba and attended the parish school in 1965 and 1966.[3] The Fisher family lived in Belmore, Canterbury and Wiley Park before moving to Longueville and Manly.

Fisher attended St Michael's Primary School in Lane Cove, Holy Cross College Ryde and Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview where he was dux in 1977. He studied at the University of Sydney for six years, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in history with first-class honours, and a Bachelor of Laws, before practising law at top-tier commercial law firm, Clayton Utz, where he drafted the contracts for the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Building.[4]

Early career

Fisher entered the Order of Preachers in 1985 and studied for the priesthood in Melbourne, receiving an honours degree in theology from the Yarra Theological Union.[1] He worked for a time at Uniya, a centre for social research in Kings Cross, on immigration and refugee issues, and at Holy Name Parish in Wahroonga, Sydney. He was ordained to the priesthood at Holy Name Church in Wahroonga by Eusebius Crawford OP, Bishop of Gizo, on 14 September 1991.

Fisher then undertook doctoral studies in bioethics at the University of Oxford until 1995, matriculating from University College, while residing at Blackfriars Hall. His Doctor of Philosophy degree was granted for a thesis on "Justice in the Allocation of Healthcare". His academic work has included lecturing in Australia and overseas and publishing many books and articles on bioethics and morality. In 1994 he appeared on two British television programmes: the bioethics series Brave New World[5] and a special edition of the live discussion program After Dark.[6]

Fisher debating Philip Nitschke at Sydney University, 2003

From 1995-2000, Fisher was a lecturer at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. From 2000-03 he was the foundation director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, a postgraduate pontifical institute with nine campuses around the world.[7] The principal work of the institute is in teaching and research on questions concerning respect for human life and the dignity of the person and support for marriage and family life. Fisher remains Professor of Bioethics and Moral Theology at the institute.[8]

In 2003, he debated euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke at the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.[4][9] He is the Chancellor of the Catholic Institute of Sydney by virtue of his appointment (having previously served as the deputy-chancellor) and Adjunct Professor of Bioethics at the University of Notre Dame Australia.[7]

In the Dominican order at the time of his episcopal appointment, Fisher was the Master of Students (seminarians) and Socius (deputy) to the Prior Provincial of Australia and New Zealand. In the Melbourne diocese, he was Episcopal Vicar for Healthcare, spokesman for the diocese on matters of ethics, a visiting lecturer at the Catholic Theological College and secretary to the Senate of Priests.[7] He was the organiser of World Youth Day 2008 held in Sydney.[10]

Fisher's community involvements have included being Chaplain to the Parliament of Victoria, a member of the Infertility Treatment Authority of Victoria, chair or member of several hospital ethics committees, a conventual chaplain ad honorem to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a chaplain to various other organisations. He has also had various engagements in parish life and the pastoral care of the handicapped and the dying.[7]


Fisher was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Sydney and Titular Bishop of Buruni by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and consecrated by Cardinal George Pell at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney on 3 September 2003. He was the parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Watsons Bay and Episcopal Vicar for Life and Health in the Archdiocese of Sydney. He is also a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Australian Bishops' Commission for Doctrine and Morals.[1]

Fisher was named the third Bishop of Parramatta by Pope Benedict XVI on 8 January 2010 and was installed on 4 March 2010 in St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta.[1] On 18 September 2014, Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of Sydney.[10] The next day, Fisher called for harmony in the community in light of counter-terrorism raids that had just begun. He said, "As a religious leader though I think people of faith have something very important to do and to say at the moment. [These are] troubled times in our world and even in our own city. We need to bring some calm and some restraint and some wisdom at this time."[11] Fisher was installed as Archbishop of Sydney on 12 November 2014 in a ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of Sydney (Clover Moore), the Premier of New South Wales (Mike Baird) and John Howard, a former Prime Minister of Australia, as well as other politicians and leaders of Orthodox Christian and other religious communities in Sydney.[12][13][14]

On 6 May 2015, Pope Francis appointed Fisher a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[15]

In December 2015, Fisher was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome following an gastrointestinal infection which was complicated by an immune-related pathology. He received intensive care treatment, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney before moving to another healthcare facility.[16] The Archdiocese of Sydney announced that Fisher would return to regular, active duties from 5 May 2016.[17] Fisher celebrated his first public Mass on 29 May 2016.[18]

Response to child sexual abuse cases

Anthony Foster, the father of two children allegedly sexually abused by their parish priest, criticised Fisher for his comment: "Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people and the hope — the hope for us doing these sorts of things better in the future — as we saw last night, rather than, than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds."[19][20] Fisher later said his comment was taken out of context: "I called the reporters cranky and, boy, did I get jumped upon ... they said I was calling the abuse victims cranky, which I certainly wasn't doing."[21]

When he became archbishop, Fisher committed the Church to doing better in its response to child sexual abuse cases. He said, "Victims of abuse and all young people must come first – no excuses, no cover-ups. The Church must do better in this area and I am committed to playing a leading role in regaining the confidence of the community and of our own members."[10]

He stated that the "Church in Australia is going through a period of public scrutiny and self-examination" and expressed his hope that it "will emerge from this purified, humbler, more compassionate and spiritually regenerated."[10][22] He lamented the institutionalised child sexual abuse that occurred historically in his former Diocese of Parramatta and took the opportunity to apologise for what he acknowledged as the Church's failure to properly assist victims.[23] Speaking of previous abuse cases, he reiterated his desire for openness and change saying, "We want to make sure every child is safe and cherished going forward."[22]

Australian federal election, 2016

In the campaign cycle leading up to the 2016 federal elections, Fisher condemned the policies of the Australian Greens describing them as "nasty" and contravening "basic moral standards". He called on the government to honour its commitment to take in Syrian Christian refugees and put in place common-sense policies regarding refugees and asylum seekers in light of the exposition of abuse suffered by detainees in offshore processing centres. He stated that it was “matter of striking a balance’’ although added that "[he didn't] know all the answers’’.[18] This follows calls he made in September 2015 exhorting the government to consider increasing its humanitarian refugee intake and to prioritise Christians fleeing Syria believing it necessary due to "campaigns to drive Christians from the Middle East". Both the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Australia had also asked the government to consider increasing its yearly humanitarian refugee intake by 10,000.[24]

Opposition to LGBT Rights

In August 2017, during the political debate to determine whether Australia should introduce same-sex marriage in Australia, he raised fears that religious schools, charities and hospitals could be coerced to comply with the "new view of marriage" if the majority of Australians opted for a change in legislation - arguing that teachers would not be free to follow the "traditional" church teaching on marriage, but instead be forced to teach a more 'politically correct' curriculum.[25][26][27] He went on to claim that religious believers would be vulnerable to discrimination suits and could even lose their jobs if same-sex marriage is legalised.[28] Same-sex marriage was subsequently introduced to Australia by an act of Parliament in December 2017 following widespread support in a national postal vote.[29]

Fisher had previously taken a wider position against recognition of gay rights in Australian society - stating that businesses such as Qantas and Telstra should not actively support initiatives aimed at supporting LGBT staff or encouraging non-discrimination, including sponsorship of Pride events and lobbying around same-sex marriage (accusing private sector chief executives of applying "pink bans" on other companies or executives that refused to support LGBT rights). [30]


  • Fisher, Anthony (1985), Abortion in Australia: Answers and Alternatives. With Jane Buckingham. First printing: Melbourne: Dove Communications, 1985. Second printing: Sydney: Foundation for Human Development 1991.
  • Fisher, Anthony (1989), IVF: The Critical Issues. Melbourne: Collins Dove
  • Fisher, Anthony (1991), I am a stranger: will you welcome me? The immigration debate. Melbourne: Collins Dove/ACSJC
  • Fisher, Anthony (2001), Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services in Australia. With B. Tobin, C. Gleeson and M. Byrne. Canberra: Catholic Health Australia
  • Fisher, Anthony (1996), Relevant Ethical Issues in Healthcare. With F. Gomez & H. Bustamanthe. Manila: UST Bioethics
  • Fisher, Anthony (2001), Healthcare Allocation: An Ethical Framework for Public Policy. With L. Gormally et al. London: Linacre Centre.
  • Fisher, Anthony (2011), Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium, New York City, USA: Cambridge University Press


  1. ^ a b c d "Rinunce e nomine" (PDF) (Press release). Vatican Press Office. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Wehner, Tom (12 November 2014). "Meet Sydney's New Shepherd, Archbishop Anthony Fisher". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Profile". Roman Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "The turbocharged bishop – National". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 29 September 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  5. ^ WorldCat programme listing and Production company website, accessed 20 December 2017
  6. ^ Production company website, accessed 16 August 2018
  7. ^ a b c d "Pope Appoints Bishop Anthony Fisher to Archdiocese of Sydney". Vatican Radio. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Faculty". John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Curruthers, Fiona (22 August 2003). "Euthanasia protagonists disagree over cost of living". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d Blackburn, Richard (18 September 2014). "Catholic Church names Bishop Anthony Fisher as Cardinal George Pell's successor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Watson, Vanessa (19 September 2014). "Bishop Anthony Fisher appointed Archbishop". Parramatta Sun. Fairfax Media Regional. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  12. ^ McCowen, Sharyn (1 October 2014). "'Main focus on people' at installation Mass". The Catholic Weekly. Archived from the original on 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  13. ^ West, Andrew (13 November 2014). "Sydney's new Archbishop: Anthony Fisher steps into big shoes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Parker, Scott (13 November 2014). "Anthony Fisher succeeds George Pell as Catholic Church anoints ninth Archbishop of Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "Pope names two new members for Doctrine of Faith". Vatican Radio. Holy See Press Office. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  16. ^ King, Simon (5 January 2016). "Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher in intensive care". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 29 April 2016. (subscription required)
  17. ^ Hiini, Robert (27 April 2016). "Recovering Archbishop Fisher due to return to work". The Catholic Weekly. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Livingstone, Tess (30 May 2016). "Federal election 2016: Greens' policies immoral, says Catholic archbishop". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  19. ^ Bourke, Emily (17 July 2008). "Catholic Bishop's 'old wounds' comments slammed". ABC News. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Bryant, Nick (20 July 2008). "A spectacular show". BBC News. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Bates, Rob (29 July 2009). "The faith and conviction of Bishop Anthony Fisher". Wentworth Courier. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Livingstone, Tess (19 September 2014). "'Mud on boots' of new chief Catholic Anthony Fisher". The Australian. News Corporation. Retrieved 19 September 2014. (subscription required)
  23. ^ Feneley, Rick (19 September 2014). ""I am ashamed": new Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher admits church has failed abuse victims". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Quinn, Liam (8 September 2015). "Sydney Archbishop says Australia should take more asylum seekers in response to refugee crisis in war-torn Syria… and should prioritise CHRISTIANS". The Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Kelly, Joe (14 August 2017). "Same-sex marriage: Church warns of 'same-sex coercion' for schools". The Australian. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  27. ^ Fisher, Anthony. "Marriage Redefinition will Affect Every Australian: Archbishop Fisher". Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  28. ^ marriage-is-legalised/news-story/25f0756d4e3423bf7469d751fb18342b
  29. ^
  30. ^
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Ismail Rueda Sierra
Titular Bishop of Buruni
Succeeded by
Raphael Thattil
Preceded by
Kevin Michael Manning
Bishop of Parramatta
Succeeded by
Vincent Long Van Nguyen
Preceded by
George Cardinal Pell
Archbishop of Sydney