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EXCLUSIVE: Papal Honour presented to Neville Owen


Perth Archbishop Costelloe SDB has last weekend presented the Hon Justice Neville Owen with a Papal Honour of the Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great on behalf of his Holiness Pope Francis. Photo: Supplied.

By Jamie O’Brien

Perth Archbishop Costelloe SDB has last weekend presented Neville Owen with a Papal Honour of the Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great on behalf of his Holiness Pope Francis.

Archbishop Costelloe presented Mr Owen, who was Chair of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council and a former senior judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, at a special dinner last Friday night, 22 June 2018.

In congratulating the 70-year-old Mr Owen for the Papal Honour, Archbishop Costelloe acknowledged the tremendous insight he and Bishops across Australia have gained, thanks to the support, foresight and dedication of Mr Owen.

“Mr Owen is a man of wisdom and humility, who has understood the importance of using his unique gifts with intelligence and decency for the service of the Church,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“He has been, and continues to be to this day, a man of faith that we can take as an outstanding example of how to live for the betterment of society,” he said.

Archbishop Costelloe paid tribute also to Mrs Juliet Owen, who has also been generous in her support of her husband as he served the Church in many capacities.

It was in May 2014 that Mr Owen accepted the invitation of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia to assume the role of Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, the body established by the Bishops and the Religious Leaders to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia.

In February this year, Mr Owen was appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“Valuable insights have been gained, thanks to the work of Mr Owen, through the Royal Commission in Australia into the extent of the suffering of survivors, their need for justice and healing, and the important work of preventing such tragedies occurring again,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great was established in 1831, and is one of the five Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See.

The honour is bestowed upon Catholic men and women in recognition of their personal service to the Holy See and to the Catholic Church, through their unusual labours, their support of the Holy See, and their excellent examples set forth in their communities and their countries.

Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton also paid thanks to Mr Owen, acknowledging his dedication and commitment, particularly in the Archdiocese of Perth.

“I express my deep gratitude for the support that has been given by Justice Owen and congratulate him on this special honour,” Bishop Sproxton said.

In addition to his role with the TJHC, Mr Owen has been Chair of several school boards, including St Thomas’ Primary School Claremont, Newman College and Iona Presentation College, which he has been involved with since 1993, when he was appointed as an original Foundation Member of the School Board and went to be Chair the College Board.

Mr Owen has also had a significant role in the foundation of the University of Notre Dame, which was founded in Perth in 1989, as a private Catholic University, the first and so far only example of such an institution in Australia.

Mr Owen has been the Chancellor, a Governor and a Trustee of the University, a position which he still holds, in addition to being an adjunct professor. 

He continues to take a keen interest in the life of the university, and is committed to the task of maintaining the Catholic identity of the university.

Mr Owen also continues to advise and assist the Archdiocese of Perth in dealing with ongoing matters relating of sexual abuse through his membership of the Professional Standards Resource Group.