Religion

Woke Dudes with Mitres and Croziers

With all his undoubted accomplishments as an actor and comedian, it is unlikely that Ernie Dingo has ever thought of himself as a liturgical innovator, never having lent his talents to devising a Christian religious rite. Happily, though, that omission will be rectified if Australia’s Catholic bishops, desperate to find a toehold on the bandwagon of contemporary wokery, decide to graft his “welcome to country” ceremony onto their Church’s most sacred rite, the Mass.

“Welcomes to country” (and “acknowledgments of elders”) are now as ubiquitous as the expression “Enjoy your day” and about as meaningful. They precede every official gathering irrespective of any connection with Aboriginal culture. It’s probably an offence by now not to have one, especially in places, like Victoria, that have gone indigene-gaga. But as official mendacity at federal, state and municipal level will never admit, “welcomes to country” are not the venerable Aboriginal tradition they are touted. They go no farther back than 1976, when Ernie Dingo and another Indigenous actor, Richard Whalley, say they invented the “welcome” formula for an arts festival in Perth. There are other claimants to authorship, but whoever it was it wasn’t long ago, and these “welcomes” didn’t evolve from ancient practice. Indeed, ancient practice in inter-tribal relations was to offer strangers anything but a welcome, unless a hail of spears can be construed as a sign of hospitality.

But in Whitlam’s Australia of the 1970s, when we suddenly discovered our supposedly shameful past, the newly invented “welcomes” were seized on as a way of honouring what were not yet then called our “first nations” and showing how much we, as opposed to the brutal “invaders” from whom we pretended not to be descended, valued them. It was an easy way of feeling good about ourselves without actually having to do anything constructive about such national blemishes as the appalling conditions in outback Aboriginal townships. Such real problems were too upsetting to think about and risked spoiling the self-righteous glow we felt on listening to a “welcome to country” and pretending for a few minutes that the Aborigines “welcoming”  us were still in charge.

Fast forward to our own guilt-laden era, when we feel ashamed of everything except our own intellectual arrogance, and particularly about the planet, “racism”, the horrors of “toxic masculinity” and the battery of phobias we accuse everyone we disagree with of having. Into this seething communal wallow steps the Roman Catholic Church, still in perpetual hand-wringing mode over long past child sex abuse, hoping somehow to regain the favour of a society which no longer has much use for it.

And how does it propose to do that? By preaching the Gospel, as its Founder instructed it, with renewed zeal? By reclaiming the beauty of its ho-hum worship, with music and ritual? Or by calling a Plenary Council at which the kind of people who love the sound of their own voices, the kind of earnest bores who now dominate public life, can hold forth on their favourite hobby horses to their hearts’ content?

The last, of course, and as any observer of the priorities of the windbag classes could have predicted, the hobby horses at this four-year council have all been drawn from the contemporary secular repertoire, as its working documents reveal. Hence the brilliant idea of asking the bishops to include Eddie and Richard’s invention as part of the Mass. If they agree, a piece of ersatz theatre, adopted for partisan racial and political ends, would be put on a par with the hallowed words and rite of what Catholics believe is one and the same sacrifice as Christ’s on the cross and is thus outside time, outside all temporal considerations.

The Plenary Council has drunk deep at the wells of modern secularism’s stale ideas. Along with welcomes its delegates want a “first nations voice” to be “enshrined” in the national Constitution (has no one at the council heard of apartheid?) and “truth-telling about our history” (Bruce Pascoe’s ‘truth’?).

Naturally, “climate change” is prominent on the agenda. This, the council’s deliberators assure us, must be “equitably” “addressed”. Does that mean billionaires such as Simon Holmes à Court taking the bus like the rest of us? Oh, and we mustn’t ignore something called “the Cry of the Earth”. Can you hear it, sssh! There it goes, our earth is sobbing, all because of wicked us.

The violins come out for the LGBTQ-etc string of initials, victims still, apparently, of “judgemental, demeaning and hurtful” language from Catholic “spokespersons and others”. “Rainbow people,” says the council, suffer from “discrimination” and “exclusion” by the Church (leave aside that there seem to be a fair few rainbow people actually running the Church). But there’s hope, since, “stigma and barriers” against gays and others are being “dismantled” as “enlightened understandings are assimilated.” That’s one way of describing the current mania for “diversity” and “inclusion”.

Which leads us to that old chestnut, “inclusive” language. The delegates don’t like God being referred to as “He”. Easy. Why don’t they recommend that pronoun beloved of the gender-eclectic, “They”? “Our parent, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Their name …”

The one obsession of the Left on which the plenary councillors are silent is abortion, which in America has prominent Catholic supporters such as President Biden and that old frightbat Nancy Pelosi, for whom the right of a foetus to be killed takes precedence over its right to live (if Jesus had been conceived in the US now he would very likely, statistically, be aborted). It’s a pity for any local plenary delegates with pro-abortion views that their hands are tied, but disapproval of abortion is about the one conservative principle the normally leftish Pope Francis sticks to, and they all love Pope Francis.

Amid all this, from Hobart comes a voice of sanity. The language of the Plenary Council, writes Archbishop Julian Porteous, “at times is more akin to that of a secular report than of an ecclesial document.” It gives the impression of “a church that has lost confidence in itself,” “a church that has surrendered to the surrounding cultural ethos.”

The Catholic Church in Australia, continues the archbishop, “is in the midst of an existential crisis [with] thousands abandoning participation in the sacramental life of the Church each year … yet no real recognition of this reality is given” by the Plenary Council. And although the council “speaks of making ‘God’s reign of justice, love and peace’ visible,” it “rarely speaks of the task of bringing people under the grace of salvation by a bold proclamation of the cross of Christ.”

My guess is that he won’t be asked to speak at the Plenary Council.

17 comments
  • Wyndham Dix

    It is to my enduring regret that for reasons identical or similar to those enunciated by Christopher Akehurst I shall remain a lapsed Anglican, having in 1956 been admitted as a communicant member of that denomination.
    .
    The word backsliding comes to mind. Some would say, perhaps rightly, that I am guilty of it. One day I shall know.

  • Farnswort

    A good piece. Thank you, Mr Akehurst.

  • Farnswort

    I agree with this writer: I don’t need to be ‘welcomed’ to my country – https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/05/i-dont-need-to-be-welcomed-to-my-country/

  • Daffy

    The way the ‘welcome’ is intoned gives it religious significance, as the Uluru statement makes quite clear. ‘Country’ is a spiritual notion born of the animism clearly practiced in Aboriginal culture. So the Catholic church is going to give an animist chant a significant place in its Mass! This strikes me as doing a deal with Baal, This is the same church that has surrendered the rainbow to public depravity (as if anybody’s bedroom business is now become everyone’s business), rather than fight for its Judeo-Christian symbolism as a promise of peace with God. Still, that’s the Catholic church these days. Like the Liberal Party, it stands for nothing, it would seem.

  • DougD

    A lot of officials, settlers and explorers in the 19th century were interested in Aboriginal culture and customs. Many left records of their dealings with and observations of Aborigines. I have never seen any reference to a welcome to country ceremony in any of these records. Does anyone know of any?

  • Ian MacDougall

    The key to religion is in the slogan “The family that prays together, stays together.” It is all about group identity and ongoing reaffirmation. The French sociologist Emile Durkeim summed it up in terms of the group worshipping itself, whatever the beliefs and rituals involved. As for “…the task of bringing people under the grace of salvation by a bold proclamation of the cross of Christ…” I identified myself as a Christian for some of my formative years, though never as an Evangelical. (Sorry, St Paul.)
    Science tells us that the Universe is about 93 billion light-years in diameter and 13.8 billion years old, with around 100 billion galaxies each consisting of the same number of stars (give or take a few) and that it contains around 10^24 planets, if our solar system be typical. So I find the notion of a creative intelligence capable of coming up with all that, plus gravity, the mysteries of quantum mechanics and all the rest of it being simultaneously into blood sacrifice (Jesus on the Cross, etc) to be just a bit too hard to swallow.

  • Paul W

    DougD, I understand that a range of ceremonies were performed on many occasions. Some very likely were Welcome to Country-like, but there was never a single such ceremony.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Given humanity’s reliance on religion, when Christianity fades it doesn’t take long for others to arise in its place. The two pagan religions mentioned here are nature worship, practiced as hysteria over the environment, and the worship of primitive peoples, as propounded by Rousseau. It would appear that Catholics are just as susceptible as the rest of us in taking up old heresies as their faith in Christ evaporates.

  • GaryR

    Surely what is intended is not a ‘welcome’ to country, in which an elder would turn up late and tell a few anecdotes for a hefty fee before Mass could begin, but an ‘acknowledgment’ of country, in which the Priest would pay his/their respects to ‘elders, past, present and emerging’? The former would soon be found unworkable, the latter merely tokenistic or irrelevant.

  • Ian MacDougall

    Durkheim.

  • andrew2

    Yes, the official channels directing the Church have been co-opted in a certain direction. But a very interesting thing is happening in the world. Look at the following video from “Decrevi Determined to be Catholic”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29ZZrtdzo80&ab_channel=DecreviDeterminedtobeCatholic
    Here is two young Irish men discussing their faith seriously and cutting their own path into the faith, despite what the Church councils are saying.
    The Church probably does not know what to do with this small but growing band of men. While they should be embracing them, they are probably scared of them because they will not be drawn down the modernist path. The leftist priest will not want their eyes staring at them from the pews while they preach a homily about the latest outrage that they saw on CNN or ABC.
    These brothers finding each other, in a spirit of faith to Christ, will not be able to be contained.

  • DougD

    Paul W – Your understanding is much like The Australian Geographic’s: “FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS Aboriginal people have performed a type of ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony when one tribal group sought to enter the lands of another. This traditional protocol took many forms, it could be spoken, sung, performed and possibly there would be a smoking ceremony, depending on the traditions of the local group.” But like you, it doesn’t identify any historical reference for its belief. Until I can find one, I’ll stay with the Dingo/Whalley claim of 1976 and treat the Welcome to Country’ ceremony as a local example of the others that Eric Hobsbawm in his essay, The Invention of Tradition.

  • Paul W

    DougD –
    “If tribes meet simply for the purpose of festivity, and have no deaths to
    avenge on either side, although they appear in warlike attitude, painted and
    bearing spear and shield, yet when they approach each other, they all
    become seated upon the ground. After which, the strangers, should there be
    any, undergo a formal introduction, and have their country and lineage
    described by the older men. At these meetings all occurrences of interest are
    narrated, information is given as to the localities in which food is most
    abundant, and invitations are issued by the proprietors of these districts, to
    their relations and friends to accompany them thither.”
    – Eyre, Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia
    ;
    There never was of course a single Welcome to Country.

  • pmcouttie

    We forget that the Catholic Faith consists of the 10 Commandments and the 7 Sacraments as delivered in the first century with Morning Mass and Holy communion .
    That is the basis and should be taught without reference to todays ideologies etc.
    Get back to the basis (as the Liberal should have done ) Jesus told us he would make sure His teachings would not change but that some some from within the church would try. Every Pope has obeyed and never changed the basic teaching of Christ s Catholic church. Let us follow that and tell everybody Christs message and Faith for Salvation

  • Ian MacKenzie

    pmcouttie, it would seem that the Plenary Council have not realised that the Commandments aren’t focused on woke identity categories (race, gender, the alphabet people etc.) but rather the behavior of individuals. They apply no matter who you are, how you identify or which group you belong to. The same applies to the Sacraments, with the possible exceptions of Holy Orders and Matrimony, which explains why these are the two under attack at present. Same with the Sermon on the Mount. No races or genders are described as blessed, just individuals who do the right thing. Galacians 3:28 says it best: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I can’t think of a better refutation for all that identity politics stands for.

  • Brenden T Walters

    Saint Paul told the followers of Christ to put off the old man and put on the new man. Unfortunately, most of the bishops and clergy have put off the old man and put on the old woman. Too many of the bishops and clergy hoist the rainbow flag.

  • Brenden T Walters

    It was sad to see Pope Francis, offering himself to visit President Putin to negotiate a settlement of the war in Ukraine. The reason the President declined the offer is because the Pope has lost all moral credibility. President Putin would be well aware that Pope Francis is in bed with the CCP and that he betrayed traditional Chinese Catholics to the tune of two billion (with a ‘b’) dollars per year – the CCP bailed out the Vatican. Pope Francis is right when he says that NATO’s eastern creep forced President Putin’s hand. This together with numerous biolabs and a strong Nazi presence on Ukrainian soil, and Ukraine’s corrupt relationship with high-ranking crime families and others, forced President Putin’s hand. President Putin viewed NATO’s crossing of his red line, after numerous warnings, as presenting an existential threat to the security of Russia.
    This successor (?) of Saint Peter who fondles pagan idols and walks arm-in-arm with false religions and sits in the company of those who hate our faith and betrays the very essence of our sacred teachings and denigrates traditional followers of Christ and who promotes an abortion tainted vaccine by moral imperative, now seeks to waddle in and engage the confidence of the President of Russia. President Putin would be excused for treating this whole thing as a joke, which he probably did.
    Moral credibility is the lifeblood of ecclesiastical authority. When bishops and priests betray those entrusted to their care, when they betray the mandates of Christ, who then is going to believe them. Why did so many bishops cover-up the sexual abuse of children and the homosexual abuse of post pubescent boys. Why do many bishops use their position to dupe gullible/naïve Catholics and engage in the wholesale pillaging of diocesan funds. Those of us who have been conditioned from a very early age to think only the best of the bishops and clergy, find all this difficult to swallow.
    As an aside, one bishop offered the excuse for the pathetic response to the widespread abuse of teenage boys by clergy and religious that they didn’t know what to do. I’m sure they would have known what to do if it had been their sons being raped. The truth is they didn’t care.
    Bishops, and their priest offsiders, have the duty to teach the faith – including specifically biblical morality. How is it then that a large proportion of Catholic women so easily turn a blind eye to Humanae vitae? Many Catholics believe that abortion is acceptable in certain circumstances, as do many priests. Why did a majority of Catholics vote in support of gay marriage? Why are there so many bishops and priests of a homosexual orientation? Does anyone seriously think that a gay priest or bishop will preach biblical morality in relation to homosexuality – or any other moral issue for that matter? Is that why we rarely if ever hear biblical morality being preached from the pulpit? Is there an elephant in the sacristy?
    Bishop McKenna (Bathurst) officially encouraged catholic people to take the abortion tainted vaccine (as did other bishops, I believe), he said he was told it was safe and that he had taken it himself. How did he know it was safe? Did the Pope tell him? And what of the link to aborted babies. There was a time when the Catholic church preached against ingesting human bits and pieces, no matter how small – or have I missed the point on this? I am open to correction. A church official told me that he and his family took the abortion tainted jab because the Pope and the bishop said it was OK. Many others did the same for the same reason. With a little more information they might now wait anxiously for their grandchildren to appear. If the bishop told them to hang the shrunken head of their enemy on their belt, would they do that? Probably. It’s easier than thinking for yourself.
    To think that a bishop or a pope is an expert on medical matters is idiotic in the extreme. In the same way, priests are not counsellors. Counselling is a separate profession. All priests do is tell people what to do.
    In the immortal words of Ned Kelly: ‘So it’s come to this then, such is life.’
    Nevertheless, the true faith must be preached for it is inextricably bound to the purpose of our creation. The old Green Catechism answers the question, why did God make us, as follows: ‘To know love and serve him here on earth and to see and enjoy him forever in heaven.’ So that’s what it’s all about. It is clear that the bishops and priests, for the most part, and indeed the pope, have dropped the ball.
    So who will preach the true gospel now? Who will teach the children to know, love and serve God? The simple answer is – ‘You will.’ Abortion and gay marriage are anathema to our Catholic way of life. These things are of the world, and you can’t change that, but you do not have to be part of it. If you have a child with same sex proclivities, then that child has a hard row to hoe. Lead that child to the power and healing love of Jesus Christ; lead that child to sainthood. Get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic church. Take your power back from the priests and the bishops, they have betrayed you and they have betrayed Christ. From now on the buck stops with you.
    Brenden T Walters

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