“We have had enough of exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues!”
St. Catherine of Siena
“There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief. … As to the leaders in this system of imposture, you know that cheats and deceivers never can repent. The fraudulent have no recourse but in fraud.”
Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France
When suicidal mania—frequently coupled with homicidal mania—grips a loved one, the standard onus of truth-telling becomes ever more acute. Soft-soaping the loved one is useless. Your priority must be not what he wants, but what he needs. Should he abandon his catastrophic plans, he could well thank you for your solicitude. If, unfortunately, he insists on destroying himself and (worse yet) taking others with him, you retain at least the solace of knowing that you treated him as an adult, endowed with agency for good and evil, instead of having infantilised him with happy talk.
Precisely such suicidal mania dominates Australian Catholicism. Almost three years of COVID dictatorship confirmed that our bishops have been as incapable of defying lockdown despotism by their church’s self-declared antagonists, as they have been of defying child abusers in their church’s own membership registers. Karl Kraus’ description of psychoanalysis applies to our episcopate: it is the disease that it pretends to cure.
Its collective cowardice has lasted for decades, as we who are lay Australian Catholics now have a perfect occasion to spell out. Between Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy’s departure from the Sydney See (1971) and the temporary improvements which marked George Pell’s accession in Melbourne (1996), Catholicism in the largest Australian cities was not badly led; it was not led at all.
The 2017 final report of the relevant Royal Commission confirmed what those locust-years ensured and what our own memories affirmed. There has been a deliberate corruption of seminary admission processes; persistent indulgence to liturgical clown-shows, even while the Tridentine rite was demonised; constant failure to insist on adherence to Humanae Vitae; truckling to one baby-Marxist and feminazi after another. Routinely the nation’s bishops have engaged in hug-a-heathen virtue-signalling, which its apologists dignified by the name ‘ecumenical dialogue.’ They have issued calls for unrestricted Third World immigration, on no sounder a cultural basis than Susan Sontag’s infamous libel: “The white race is the cancer of history.”
Above all, those locust-years ensured endless rewards for the priesthood’s perverts. Naturally such perverts viewed unrestricted Third World immigration as a bonanza. Victims lacking adequate English are, by definition, victims unlikely to lodge complaints about being sexually assaulted.
The optimism inspired by the years of Pell’s rule (and to a much lesser extent inspired by the archiepiscopate of Barry Hickey in Perth) during the late 20th and early 21st centuries was delusive. These phenomena, however welcome, constituted what Britain’s greatest modern novelist called “a brief truce in an unending war.” Post-Pell, and outside Hickey’s jurisdiction, the status quo of 1971-1996 returned nationwide, and shows not the faintest sign of stopping.
Was all such vice limited to Australian dioceses? Of course not. In many a foreign metropolis—notably Washington DC, Milwaukee, Bruges, Lyon, Vienna, and Wroclaw—bishops contrived, astoundingly, to be still worse. Australian Catholicism nevertheless operated under two disadvantages unique, at the time, among Western lands. First, its dearth of efficacious lay pushback. Second, the skill with which perverts (both clerical and lay) silenced criticism by exploiting our neo-Stalinist defamation laws.
The latter pathology guaranteed the former. In the United States, an entire network of Catholic magazines—generally lay-run—demonstrated uncompromising orthodoxy and doctrinal rigour long after most American bishops and many American priests had, de facto, abandoned Catholicism in favour of squashy progressivism. While this network long ago dissolved (several of its constituent periodicals went out of business, and the survivors habitually vend blather almost impossible to differentiate from Boris Johnson’s), memories of the network endure. In Australia such a network was always unthinkable.
For Australia’s quarter century of ecclesiastical chaos, today’s bishops are too young to be blamed. But they must be blamed for the breakdown of Australian Catholicism since then. Particularly offensive have been their incessant championship of purportedly Catholic educational establishments indistinguishable from the most calamitous secular crèches (this championship being still more shocking in the high-school sector than in the tertiary sector); and their spineless inability to discipline—never mind to do their duty by excommunicating—pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia politicians.
Ignoring the enemy
Their historical illiteracy has guaranteed their failure even to notice the longevity, the popularity, and the fury of Australia’s anti-Catholic hatred. This is notwithstanding the laments over such hatred, laments supplied by three commercially successful Australian-based authors—Joseph Furphy, John Douglas Pringle, and Donald Horne—which are readily at hand. (None of the authors possessed Romish sympathies. Furphy was a mild Protestant; neither Horne nor Pringle had any noticeable Christian allegiance.) Here is Furphy, writing in his 1903 volume Such Is Life:
A second and clearer-sighted Jeremiah could never have prophesied the deliberate introduction [to Australia] of hydrophobia for dogs, glanders for horses, or Orangeism for men. Yet the latter enterprise has been carried out … Someone has carried his congenial virus halfway round the globe, and tainted a young nation.
Here is the Scottish-born Pringle, writing in his 1958 volume Australian Accent:
Anti-Catholic feeling is extremely strong in Australia. From time to time it bursts out like lava from a sleeping volcano, burning and destroying everything it touches.
Here is Horne, writing in his 1964 volume The Lucky Country:
Perhaps the single most important issues connected with religion that remains with Australians as a whole are questions of Catholicism and anti-Catholicism … bitter distrust of the Catholic Church is part of the system of beliefs of most older non-Catholic Australians.
Each of the three books here quoted sold so many copies as to have been, until a generation ago, familiar to almost every Australian who had finished high school (and to numerous Australians who had not). Why, therefore, do today’s Australian bishops—whose ostentatious acquisition of doctorates presupposes an ability, however sporadic, to read—refuse to discern anti-Catholicism’s survival, let alone its malice?
Yesterday’s Australian bishops, such as the aforementioned Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne, and Archbishop Sir James Duhig of Brisbane, all knew their enemies. Their modern successors don’t. Worse, they refuse to believe that enemies exist. Faced with vituperatively anti-Catholic premiers like Victoria’s Daniel Andrews and Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, they manage nothing better than what Jacques Maritain called “kneeling to the world” and what Tom Wolfe more vulgarly called “sh*t-eating grins.” Characteristically, many of them have the severest problems emitting five consecutive sentences in public without beginning at least two of them by the word ‘Friends.’ They obviously find it impossible to acknowledge the reality of foes.
You could assume that both the Royal Commission into child abuse and, beforehand, former Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart’s 2009 telephonic instruction to a female sex-abuse victim (‘Go to hell, bitch’) were the most spectacular outward and visible signs of the Australian episcopate’s ethical bankruptcy. Then COVID emerged. Whereupon the episcopate showed us what true ethical bankruptcy looked like.
The crass 2020 description by Sydney’s Anthony Fisher—in a cathedral sermon on, pity help us, Good Friday—of supermarkets’ lavatory-paper shortages as “World War Loo” proved that he could be made into an archbishop but that no power on earth could make him into a gentleman. He joined his confrères in total incapacity to do what their functions obliged them to do, collectively, from the beginning: emphasise that those arrogant state governments which used public health decrees as a pretext for anti-Catholic spite were rendering unto Caesar that which is exclusively God’s.
Predictably, no such spite vented itself upon synagogues, mosques, or Pentecostal gallimaufries. Crowds there usually assembled unpunished and often assembled unrebuked. Solely against Catholics, in particular Catholics objecting to limitless vaccination as the price of their jobs, did the local KGB deploy its full thuggish power.
Moreover, as early as 2011, 87% of those Australians who self-identified as Catholics no longer attended church on Sunday. For this débâcle, no Australian prelate has even been reprimanded. What would happen to any toothpaste-manufacturing firm which lost 87% of its customer base?
Among the 13% who do turn up, a large minority at least—in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane it might well be a majority—would struggle to conduct the simplest conversation in English. How anyone not deranged can suppose that Australian Catholicism is somehow improved by such linguistic barriers, any more than is the Australian Hasidic milieu which enabled and concealed Malka Leifer’s sex crimes for as long as it could, defies conjecture.
Donkeys leading lions
Evelyn Waugh once asked his friend Diana Cooper whether she believed as much in the historicity of Christ’s incarnation (which she had not seen) as in the historicity of the Battle of El Alamein (which she had not seen either). Is the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference as convinced about the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin, as it is about the sinlessness of George Floyd, Greta Thunberg, and the Aboriginal grievance nomenklatura?
When the archbishop of Australia’s largest city can besmirch the Christian calendar’s most solemn day by indulging in puerile toilet ‘humour’ from the pulpit (live streamed by YouTube into the bargain), questions become inevitable concerning what, in practice, he and his antipodean brother bishops believe in. Laypeople must be forgiven for having recalled, as regards our current episcopate, Thomas Carlyle’s taunt: ‘Soul extinct; stomach well alive.’
Comparisons with the 1980s USSR, that most obvious of modern belief-free zones, cannot be escaped. The one system is as irreformable as the other was. At any hint of reform, Australia’s episcopal bureaucracy will collapse into a heap of unpayable debts and unemployed apparatchiks, just as the USSR collapsed under Gorbachev.
Amid Australia’s worst lockdowns, a few priests behaved with downright heroism in the care of their flocks, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. They understood (even if the prelature did not) the Thomist adage that immoral legislation binds no-one. Alas, any student of First World War battles will be conversant with the disasters that ensue when fighting is entrusted to “lions led by donkeys.”
Already Australia’s current bishops have had to fork out $276 million in compensation payouts to abuse victims. Had lay warnings been heeded from the outset—the Sydney-based periodical Quadrant referred to ‘the priesthood’s repeated recruitment of active pederasts’ back in its January-February 1991 number—the payout bill would have been $0.00. Instead, the hierarchy continues to attract international derision as not only a woke joke, but broke.
A plan of action
COVID proved how completely our bishops have become our politicians’ stooges. (How many current bishops are targets of parliamentary blackmailers is unclear, although we can make shrewd guesses.) And stooges they will remain, unless Australia’s laity acts. The following points comprise a sine qua non for such action:
- Japanese Catholics under the Tokugawa shogunate coped without the liturgy and the sacraments for years on end (in many instances for most of their lifetimes), rather than risk dependence on clergy who were acting in secret as the shogunate’s spies. However unpleasant, such protracted abstention is possible and sometimes imperative. As Indiana’s Catholic monthly Culture Wars remarked in April 2022:
It is absurd that, when the boycott is an invention of Catholics in Ireland, Catholics in Australia have disdained to wield this formidable weapon … Modish pundits are apt to insist nowadays that boycotts do not work. Untrue. Ask [Mark] Zuckerberg if he believes in boycotts’ inefficacy. Besides, Liverpool’s boycott of the Murdoch tabloids—a boycott which persists to this hour—in protest against those tabloids’ front-page fabrications concerning the 1989 Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster, inflicted permanent financial injury. Rupert Murdoch himself eventually divulged as much.
Our bishops evidently possess no objections to an 87% lay absenteeism rate, since they have lived with it for ages. But a 100% lay absenteeism rate might make even the stupidest of them stop burbling about the joys of ‘plenary synods’ and so-called ‘new evangelisation’ for long enough to notice the empty pews.
- If lay Australian Catholics cannot bring themselves to boycott Mass attendance until some vague concept of episcopal sanity prevails, they should assuredly boycott the collection plate. The American Catholic proverb is fitting: ‘No doctrine, no dollars.’
- Lay Catholics must eschew the saccharine daydream that the present Australian hierarchy would ever lift a finger to defend us, or defend the magisterium, or defend Cardinal Pell’s innocence, or defend anything except its own untrammelled, federally funded access to indoor-heated swimming pools. Individual bishops might make pious noises; when two or three are gathered together, the omertà mindset predominates. Ralph Waldo Emerson captured this mindset in one perfect epigram: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
- When an allegedly Catholic school has become (as many of them now are) a mere ‘woke’ boondoggle, laypeople should withdraw their children from it. The pandemic showed afresh home-schooling’s superiority—for both scholarly aptitude and character formation—to militantly Christophobic educrats’ nostrums.
- No emotional blackmail, please, about Australians’ ostensible dependence on the Catholic hospital system. In practice, this system will soon be obsolete. Ask self-proclaimed ex-prostitute Fiona Patten (now of the Victorian legislature’s upper house), who is itching to deny accreditation to Catholic hospitals, unless such hospitals permit unborn children and the elderly to be disposed of.
- Since 2020, Queensland has outlawed confessionals’ secrecy. When this prohibition is formally imposed on the rest of Australia, only fools and masochists will go to confession in the first place.
- Any hopes that traditional, Latin-Mass-only Catholic groups will continue to provide a refuge for Australians must hence, with sorrow, be discarded. Sacerdotal and congregational depravities within the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) have been exposed in horrifying articles written for the website Church Militant by John Lamont, Canadian-Australian philosopher and theologian. Mercifully such sex-criminals are absent from Australia’s own SSPX centres (themselves haemorrhaging followers: COVID forced the Society to close its New South Wales seminary through lack of candidates). Yet no bookmaker would offer long odds on such an absence enduring, given recent months’ decline of international travel restrictions.
- Every Australian lay Catholic should rewrite his or her will so that not one cent from bequests will enrich notorious child-molesting cliques.
To those Australian layfolk who, by submitting to Rome, sacrificed all career considerations and most friendships—knowing full well that in other Western countries we would never have been compelled to make these forfeitures—Ronald Reagan’s famous words about his response to the Democratic Party’s betrayers are pertinent. We didn’t leave Australian Catholicism; Australian Catholicism left us.
In Catholic teaching, the supreme law is not Mass attendance. It is not the warm-and-fuzzies. Least of all is it a taxpayer-subsidised pension fund for perverted priests and their enablers.
Instead, it is, as Catholicism’s own legal code states, “the salvation of souls.” And it is that alone.
Lay Australian Catholics are dramatically limited in what we can achieve. We cannot coerce the hierarchy into expressing condign contrition for Vatican II as America’s Supreme Court expressed condign contrition for Roe v. Wade, needful though such a volte-face is for any future chances of Catholicism’s wider intellectual credibility. Likewise, we have no power to ensure the election of a future pontiff with the intestinal fortitude to jettison current appeasement of Beijing, Bolshevism, and buggery.
But we have endless power to thwart our home-grown counterpart to the Patriotic Chinese Church. This power we must wield.
Starve the beast. Now.