THE new Bishop of Wagga says there should be no flexibility in the Catholic Church when it comes to child abuse, declaring "we just need to make kids safe".
Mark Edwards said a hardline was needed on the issue which has destroyed lives and left the church with a battered image.
"Even apart from people who have gone away or people's perceptions from the outside, we just need to make kids safe," Bishop Edwards said.
"I have to be inflexible about that, kids have to be safe.
"That was wrong, it was terrible....abominable, awful.
"I understand that there's people who think that the church has got work to do and I'm sure we still do, but we have come a long way, lots of stuff has been done.
"(We need to) be thoroughgoing about those things, to make sure that there's no gaps, that the new principles and policies are actually applied across the board, so that every kid is safe."
Bishop Edwards said his background in working at Catholic schools in the 1990s and then returning in the 2010s had shown him there had been a big shift in approach to children's welfare.
"One of the changes was the noticing and reporting of issues with kids to the Department of Human Services and to the police, it is a new world," he said.
"If kids came to school with a bruise maybe you didn't even notice but in the 2010s you noticed and you reported it every time."
The ceremony will be attended by the Archbishop of Sydney and the Pope's representative in Australia.
Bishop Edwards did not apply for the job and only learnt of the appointment at the time it was formally announced, but nevertheless the current Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne had no hesitation in accepting the role.
"If the church says through Pope Francis 'we'd like you to go to the Diocese of Wagga Wagga', that's really saying that 'God wants me to come here', that's the biggest appeal," Bishop Edwards said.
The delay in replacing Bishop Gerard Hanna in the Wagga diocese was discussed by Pope Francis during a meeting with his Australian brethren at the Vatican.
Bishop Edwards said the pontiff had talked of it with him and other bishops last year.
"The Pope sat us in a circle and he said 'you can ask me anything you want'," Bishop Edwards said.
"One of the very early questions was 'Holy Father what's happening in Wagga Wagga?'
"He must have been briefed on it.....he didn't give any particulars but he said 'look you know sometimes these sort of things happen', his way of saying 'there's been stuff'."
Bishop Edwards could not say why there had been such a delay, but understood parishioners across the diocese, which extends from Griffith to Khancoban, would be feeling dismay.
"If I was in the position of the Catholic people of the diocese I'd be thinking to myself people don't care or nobody wants to come here..'why don't we have a bishop?'," he said.
"I want to say to them that you belong, that you are important and that you matter to me."
Bishop Edwards plans to have visited the 31 parishes in the diocese between the start of July and his installation.
Asked whether he was a liberal or conservative Catholic, Bishop Edwards said he did not believe such categories fitted church life before saying he was probably in the middle.
"I don't have a problem with people who are conservative and I don't have a problem with people who are liberal, I have a problem with people who are inflexible," he said.
"I think being inflexible hurts people and gets in the way of God."
The oldest of four children, Bishop Edwards was born in Indonesia, where his father was working for the Shell oil company at the time.
He became a priest in 1986 and bishop in 2014 and has worked at schools in Melbourne and Brisbane.
The 60 year-old anticipates he will be the Bishop of Wagga until his retirement, which under church law is generally at the age of 75.
"My expectation is that I will give the next 16 or 17 years of my life to the people of the Riverina and I look forward to living with them, being a disciple with them and just having good fun and worshipping with them," Bishop Edwards said.