A collective of some of Australia’s brightest minds gave some historical perspectives on the Catholic Church of Western Australia at a one-day speaker event last week.
More than 100 attendees were present at the Faith in the West event on 18 April, which was co-hosted by the Archdiocesan Archives Office and Centre for Faith Enrichment at St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Centre.
Dr Celia Hammond, Vice Chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), opened the proceedings speaking on Catholic Leadership.
“More is required when you put the word ‘Catholic’ in front of it,” Dr Hammond said.
“A true Catholic leader should not be somebody who puts the cloak of ‘Catholic’ on and the cloak off when it suits them. From where I see it, a Catholic leader needs to be authentic in their role.”
Sydney’s UNDA Dean of Law Professor Michael Quinlan delved into the relationship between law and religion in Western Australia – with large emphasis on abortion, marriage equality, and euthanasia.
This was followed by Dr Angeline O’Neill, who focused her talk on Archbishop Daniel Mannix and Perth’s inaugural Archbishop Patrick Clune.
UWA European Languages Associate Professor John Kinder gave an insight on his findings of the Perth Archdiocese’s rich vein of diversity and multi-culturalism in its leaders.
Speaking to The eRecord, Prof Kinder said the main point he tried to convey was that the Church was established in WA by a diverse group of clergy and religious figures.
“None of the first four leaders of the diocese were native speakers of English. No other diocese in Australia was like that,” he elaborated.
“The tension between the Catholics and Protestants in all the eastern states of Australia was a serious problem – politics got mixed up with religion.
“Because clergy and religious came from other countries – such as Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland – they weren’t tied up with the politics of the Irish and English. And therefore, they could focus on building up the local Church and they were much freer to do so.”
Prof Kinder said the Church has become more diverse in the 21st century.
“It is amazing how many countries our parishes’ priests come from.
“I know that a number of people find this a little challenging because it feels like we’re moving away from the Church as it was in the 20th century, which was very Australian and Irish.”
He believes the Church has gone back to its origins of diversity as it was in the beginning of the 19th century.
“My personal view is that this is the Gospel happening: ‘Go and make disciples of all people’.
“To have our parishes now from every continent on Earth is a sign of the people of God. It is a sign of life; and that is fantastic,” he concluded.
UNDA Senior Theology Lecturer Dr Angela McCarthy closed the program by presenting a special large edition of The Saint John’s Bible.