Religion

A Church Being Eaten Out From Within

Since the release of the 2021 Census results showing a sharp decline in those professing Christianity as their religion, several commentators have reflected on the reasons why. In his piece in The Australian on July 6, David Myton suggests that Christianity – Catholicism in particular – has been in a slow decline since the Reformation and concludes that “if Christianity is facing a seismic collapse, it’s because its foundations have been eroded by scholars and intellectuals across hundreds of years.” Myton’s view brings to mind the words of G.K. Chesterton: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

Christopher Akehurst: Woke dudes with mitres and croziers

These philosophers viewed Christianity through a secular lens, forgetting that the Church’s fundamental mission has always been a counter-cultural one. As Saint Paul stated in 1 Corinthians (4: 10), we are fools on Christ’s account. Our Lord Himself told the disciples at the Last Supper (John 15: 18-20):

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

In my experience, the Catholic Church is being destroyed from within by its failure to adhere to this fundamental mission. The rush to mingle with the culture that the world offers – in the hope that believers will stay – has not kept the faithful in the Church, but, in fact, has had the opposite effect, except in places that are faithful to doctrine and traditional precepts and practices.

In other words, in many ways, the Church has itself to blame for a decline in adherents. Also writing in The Australian, Greg Craven hinted at this last weekend describing some of the soap opera-style events taking place at the recent Plenary Council:

Within the Australian Catholic Church a powerful new class has emerged. This is the new Catholic managerial class.

At heart secularists, they believe the Church should conform with whatever values are the norm in society. Any failure here demonstrates that the Church is behind the “signs of the times”, and should change course.

In reality, they are assimilators: the Church should not assess or critique society from a Christian perspective but assimilate itself to prevalent popular values.

The destruction this managerial class has visited on the Church is no more evident than in education, as reported in the Nine newspapers the day after the census results were released. The story cited a certain Alexandra Wright, who was raised a devout Irish Catholic in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and attended Mass every Sunday with her family. The piece goes on to state how “Wright felt so connected to her faith that she insisted on attending a Catholic high school, St Vincent’s College in Potts Point. By age 15, however, she began to have an ‘inkling’ that religion was no longer for her.”

Therein lies the problem. As far as I can ascertain, most teachers at Catholic schools are not regular adherents and therefore would have little or no interest in supporting parents’ efforts to bestow the gift of faith on their children; indeed, many actively question fundamental Church teachings rather than giving students the intellectual rigour to defend them. Plus, these teachers are, by and large, on board with the climate cult and any other woke ideologies you can think of.

To arrest this trend a radical rethink is required in regard to government aid to religious schools. Thanks to the efforts of B.A. Santamaria, with the agreement of Sir Robert Menzies and Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte, governments at both state and federal level began providing funding to non-government schools. These giants of Australian politics could not have imagined it the negative effects now being seen. Christian schools might be in a much stronger position to argue against governments imposing radical Marxist social policy in their establishments if they were not so dependent on government funding. If you are going to take the devil’s money, you are sooner or later going to have to dance to his tune. And why would these managerial assimilators bite the hand that feeds them?

St Mary of the Cross, better known to most Australians as Mary MacKillop, steadfastly refused to accept government funding for her schools for the reasons Archbishop Polding of Sydney expressed prophetically in 1859:

We must not have the National (state) System for our children (because though) they must learn reading, writing and arithmetic and history and whatever else may be thought desirable, they must learn as Roman Catholic children learning these things, and this they cannot do unless they are constantly breathing the atmosphere of their religion.

Of course, how Catholic education must be restored to carry out the Church’s fundamental mission was not, to my knowledge, part of the Plenary Council’s discussions. The main drivers of the process, Elissa Roper and Bishop Shane Mackinlay, seemingly have other ideas, as best summed up by Craven: “The assimilators (with no interest in the things vital to the plebs – such as the Mass and the consoling sacraments) will continue their campaign to ensure the Catholic Church is woke, weak and wounded — and under their control.”

Dr Rocco Loiacono is co-author, with Augusto Zimmermann, of  Deconstructing ScoMo: Critical Reflections on Australia’s 30th Prime Minister, available for purchase at https://DeconstructingScoMo.com.au

24 comments
  • Daffy

    I must say, recent business dealings with the Sydney branch of the Anglican church suggest a similar trajectory.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    The recent decision by Witness J’s Dad to mount a civil case against Cardinal Pell for mental injury really says it all that the CC and the values of some in the world are in conflict.
    After all the defense of Pell managed to show the alleged assault could not have happened.
    However it looks like a fishing expedition to reopen all the slanders that in the grand narrative Witness J epitomised.
    It would be a curious sight to see what his Dad’s examination revealed and what our Guardians at the ABC and legacy press would make of it.
    Perhaps there is an overarching reason for this very belated claim, perhaps something to do with the forthcoming Victorian state election, or hatred or Pell and all he stands for in the CC.
    However I digress a little.
    There is virtually no secular voluntary organisation that I have had some some connection with in Australia that is not in decline.
    Think Lions, Rotary, Apex.
    Sure children’s school based sport is going well, but most parents are scrabbling to stay well, pay the power and food bills and deal with the mental stress of watching the ‘news’ with its catastrophic narratives and staying alive.
    However if the CC is declining, so surely are the people of the secular society we are living in.
    They are below the net reproductive rate.
    At this rate the present society won’t exist in two generations.
    Those I relate to and regularly meet in the booming West of Sydney are usually born overseas.
    That’s where the CC’s future remains.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Just a thought. I have been following the Vatican court case concerning a certain Chelsea property purchase.
    Now while things were hotting up in the failed prosecution of George Pell by the local constabulary, over two million dollars of Vatican money ended up in a company in Victoria that appeared, or at least its spin off,to be able to enhance the media message and presumably brand awareness.
    But who’s brand?
    Now if George Pell is stuck in Victoria again, not only won’t he be able to appear in this Vatican case to give evidence, but it may delay a finding till after the State election.
    After all its of great interest to many Catholics as to how Peter’s Pence is used and the probity of its use.
    If Pell goes to the Vatican, or stays there, the usual suspects will be having in depth interviews with each other about how he really is running from their justice.
    Let’s see who gets the gig on Cardinal George Pell at the ABC.

  • lbloveday

    Lewis P Buckingham, “The recent decision by Witness J’s Dad to mount a civil case against Cardinal Pell”.

    It is the father of the dead choirboy who is suing Pell.

  • Doubting Thomas

    lbloveday, ie the husband of the dead choir boy who has already stated that her son had told her that he had not been abused by Cardinal Pell or anyone else. Where’s the cause of action? I doubt if even the ABC would touch this.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Oops. “…husband of the mother of the dead choir boy…”

  • STD

    DT ,maybe the husband of the mother of deceased choir boy should be suing both Milligan , and the ABC vicariously for criminal liable. Furthermore would not Louise Milligan and her book of the unmitigated premeditated distortions of truth have been pivotal also in the aggravated anxiety experienced post the High Courts unanimous 7-0 decision that essentially found the whole case against the Cardinal to be absolute baloney.
    Cardinal Pell was found to be innocent, therefore, where does that place ‘Their
    ABC’ in the overall scheme of things and furthermore should the Victorian Government be held accountable for the part it played in the administering the witch hunt against Cardinal, specifically in organisations under it’s control, that is the Police Force and the DPP ect, which in effect because of the Lawyer X case ,were found to be completely lacking integrity , and in fact were actually morally bankrupt and legally incompetent and corrupt.

  • STD

    Dr Peter Kreeft ‘How to win the culture war’.
    https://youtu.be/tm08x8YiuXk

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    My apology to the Father of the deceased choirboy for conflating him with the father of Witness J.
    To lose a child under any circumstances is a huge blow.
    Some years ago I watched George Pell at the Sydney Opera House during a Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
    His response to one Lady who was in a difficult state
    ‘Keep searching’.
    His response to the Witness J allegations was to ‘turn the other cheek’ and get on with his own job.
    He chose to ignore ‘maintaining the rage’, which leads to depression and recrimination.
    His prison diary speaks to this.

  • pgang

    Whilst the liberalisation of the church has naturally resulted in a separation of true believers, I think it is a symptom rather than the cause of the shrinking influence of Christianity. Church leaders are corporate people whose personal goal is to ‘get ahead’. The preservation of the corporate structure that supports them is therefore paramount.
    So we should never expect too much godliness from them, and we don’t generally get it. Jesus had a few things to say about that, if I read Him correctly. I think the word ‘vipers’ got a mention or two.
    The problem is more a philosophical one. The church simply rolled over in the face of enlightenment humanism and rather than instructing believers in a counter philosophy, it chose to either adopt the enemy’s position, or attempt to ignore it. Rolling with the times is the easiest way to maintain the corporate – just look at big companies today.
    This has had catastrophic results as we watch society inevitably descend into socialism and superstition. Christians are now deeply soaked in humanism, reflecting the Hellenism of Second Temple Judaism.
    Roman Catholicism in particular has no defence against this philosophical destruction, having officially adopted a ‘roll with the times’ philosophy of humanism with its Trinity-denying Thomism. Humanism is not just a bolt-on for the Catholic church, it is an essential ingredient which was obvious to Luther five hundred years ago. But there was no going back. Too many jobs were at stake.
    The Reformed churches themselves are drifting back towards a Roman Catholic position as those corporations look for ways to preserve their elitist sinecures. The Lutheran Church of Australia recently elected to rename their ‘presidents’ as ‘bishops’, successfully transitioning away from a recognition that the human corporate is not the true church itself. Instead, the corporate leader is now endowed with divinity. This is a clear indication that they too have lost sight of the Trinity amongst the baubles of humanism.
    Rather than fight the good fight our churches have simply taken upon themselves the role of the Vichy.

  • christopher.coney

    I encourage Catholic readers who don’t already do so to attend Latin Mass services if this is possible, and especially to take your children. But in every Latin Mass parish there are haughty Catholics who denigrate the New Order Mass and those who attend it. Avoid these people as their pride exceeds their piety.

  • Sydgal

    In relation to the civil claim lodged by the father of the deceased choirboy which has been in the media in recent weeks, there was some coverage of this from 2019, with his Shine lawyer conducting many media interviews. The father of the deceased choirboy (and his former wife) also did a number of interviews as well as appearing on Milligan’s 4C program. Perhaps the father should be taking his claim to others including Vic Police, book authors and certain elements of the media. Some of the father’s commentary

    March 2019 media story
    “At the funeral for one of George Pell’s victims, a young man approached the grieving father and asked if he could get a copy of the choral music being played. The music was of significance, the young man said, because he also sang in the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir. The father said yes and meant to get a phone number, but the service started and details were never exchanged. In 2015, the young man approached other people about St Patrick’s. This time it was police…For the grieving family, the young man’s approach to police helped fill in the blanks….The father, speaking at the offices of Shine Lawyers, is considering suing Pell and the Catholic Church.”

    Prior to sentencing March 2019
    “I want to see them ‘throw away the key’ so he is never to be released is what I want. We were irrevocably broken by Pell… His actions destroyed our family unit and everything that was dear to me… I lost my relationship with my wife, my daughter, and I have grandchildren who do not know their grandpa…
    A relentless pursuit for justice for every victim is why I’ve gone to Shine Lawyers. What I want, and why I’ve decided to sue the church, is to change the systemic failures that have crushed so many kids before they ever had a chance to dream of a future.”

    Video outside the Vic court at sentencing
    “I thought the sentence was insufficient, it’s not going to bring my son back… I was expecting 10 years.” He expressed satisfaction with respect to information to appear on the sex offender’s register.

    Crikey story Aug 2019 – Vic Court of Appeal
    “A few months ago he was taking phone calls from The New York Times and The Washington Post, as the media storm surrounding his son’s abuser’s trial whipped up international headlines. He spent last week nervously awaiting the outcome of Pell’s appeal, suffering sleepless nights only to rejoice at it being dismissed. Sitting in the lounge room of his home in a sprawling development on the outskirts of Ballarat, he told INQ how he had no idea his life would be so profoundly affected by the actions of one man — a man who spent much of his life not far from where the choirboy’s father now calls home. It wasn’t until a year after his death that R’s father learned that he had been named in a statement by his son’s friend, alleging they were both sexually abused by Pell in the 1990s. ‘It was like being hit over the head with a bat, it really was,’ he said. R’s father has long threatened to seek compensation for what happened to his son at the hands of the third most senior Catholic in the world, and is now finalising a civil claim through Shine Lawyers.”

    Aug 2019 overseas media story – After the Vic Appeal
    “When the judgment was handed down he shed tears of relief. Outside court, he had a smile on his face. He said he was looking forward to taking some time to contemplate the decision and his son’s life. The jury verdict in the County Court had been “fabulous”, he said, as had the subsequent sentencing of Pell to six years in prison. But this ruling — confirmation of the guilty verdict, that all the terrible things they said happened to his son were true — was the biggest one of all. “I see this as being the icing on the cake…it confirms he is a xx” he said.

    Nov 2019 Media story – High Court to hear appeal
    “The Lawyer who is representing the father of Pell’s late victim, said it was a sad day for her client. He was hopeful that it would all be over today as he continues to be re-traumatised by the unending legal action. His pain and suffering remains raw and unresolved. Our client holds George Pell responsible for his son’s downhill spiral and subsequent fatal heroin overdose. He wants to see Pell behind bars where he has no contact with innocent children…The father said he was shocked and upset when he was told his son had been named as a victim by the Victoria Police taskforce investigating child sexual abuse.” The story further elaborated that the father had written to the Pope with a number of questions including why Cardinal Pell has kept his title as Cardinal and why the Catholic Church continues to insist on celibacy for priests, and why are women excluded from the clergy.

    7 April 2020 Shine Lawyers website
    “I’m disgusted”: Father of dead choirboy crushed by High Court decision allowing George Pell to walk free from prison The High Court of Australia’s unanimous decision to overturn George Pell’s convictions of historic child sexual abuse has left the father of the deceased choirboy in utter disbelief. Lisa Flynn, National Practice Leader at Shine Lawyers, which represents the man in a separate civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church, said the firm’s client is gutted by the outcome. “Our client is currently in shock. He is struggling to comprehend the decision by the High Court of Australia. He says he no longer has faith in our country’s criminal justice system,” Ms Flynn said. “He is furious the man he believes is responsible for sexually abusing his son was convicted by a unanimous jury only to have that decision overturned today allowing George Pell to walk free from jail. Our client says he is heartbroken for the surviving victim who stuck his neck out by coming forward to tell his story but was ultimately let down by a legal process that forced him to relive his pain and trauma for no benefit. Our client says this man, who the jury believed, is an upstanding citizen who had nothing to gain from speaking out other than to protect other children from the pain and suffering he has to live with on a daily basis. He has no doubt George Pell sexually abused his son and that his son’s sudden turmoil was a direct result of the abuse he suffered inside Melbourne’s Catholic Cathedral at the hands of George Pell.”

    Witness J’s lawyer, Viv Waller, gave an interview to ABC in May 2020  just after the Royal Commission redacted reports were released stating she had 260 clients with allegations of CSA going through courts, with 35 issued in the Supreme Court moving towards trial. She said the RC “findings” about the Catholic Church knowing about abuse was extremely helpful to her clients as plaintiffs must satisfy breach of a duty of care. They prove it by showing people in church knew about abuse but did not do anything about it. This statement re Royal Commission findings seems to be at odds with what the President of the Aust Bar Association, quoting a judge, told a recent ABC Media Watch program  in relation to a NSW defamation case: “However distinguished a Royal Commission may be, experience has shown that clear or conclusive findings that one makes often are not vindicated in subsequent judicial proceedings, whether criminal or civil. Royal Commission findings cannot be relied upon in a defamation case as a shorthand means of establishing relevant facts — facts have to be proved in the ordinary way through admissible evidence adduced from witnesses and by the tendering of admissible document.”

  • Stephen Due

    The RC church, like the CofE, has many accretions of superfluous offices and the accommodating power structures. To justify this situation, it has embraced humanism, and so has undermined the faith it is supposed to be preserving and preaching. Both the RC and the CofE have embraced woke values such as environmentalism and homosexuality. They are no longer ‘countercultural’ institutions.
    It is important to note, however, that the earliest churches were themselves struggling with infestations of idolatry, worldliness and sexual perversions. This is clear from the biblical record. Why else would John need to write “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”?
    In my view this struggle is of the essence of biblical Christianity. The teaching on which the Christian is nourished and grows is not philosophical, or even ethical, but spiritual. The philosophers have made much of ‘contradictions’ in the scriptures, without understanding the unique purpose of paradox, real and implied, in the text. The biblical method of spiritual teaching is powerful precisely because it is unsettling to the haughty intellect – the last bastion of spiritual resistance to the Christian message.
    Christianity therefore continues to confront the same problem internally as it did from the beginning, namely the influence of the scribes and Pharisees, whom Jesus referred to as “whitewashed tombs”. Like the poor, they will always be with us. But the message remains: “You must be born again” (John 3).

  • Sindri

    There must surely be an even chance that Christians are in for a time of real persecution at the hands of civil authority. Archbishop George may have been privately hypothesising to make a point, but there’s nothing really improbable in what he said: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

  • Sindri

    To be clear, Christianity in the third decade of the century is not just something to which most Australians are indifferent. Nor is it merely something that most people think odd or misguided, but are prepared to tolerate. A generation has grown up who with no knowledge or understanding of Christianity; people who are positively hostile to it, who think it a weird, backward and socially dangerous superstition, and its practice (and practitioners) discreditable. I suspect that mindset was at work, at least to a small degree, in the baffling conviction of Cardinal Pell.

  • norsaint

    Ladbrokes go 2/5 that Sydgal is a legal flunkey and therefore an apologist for farcical political show trials.

  • STD

    norsaint, re Sydgal, a mate of mine, who is one smart cookie ,paraphrased what Sydgal was diving at, in one word-“vendetta”.

  • Sydgal

    Norsaint and STD – I was trying to point out all the publicity the media gave the father and the lawyers over 4 years! From scenes outside the courts, the focus seemed to have been about redress and compensation. The Shine lawyer also represented complainants in the RC, and was quoted heavily in a 2020 report about the Redress Scheme. As I mentioned above, perhaps the father should be taking his civil claim to Vic Police, book authors and certain elements of the media.

  • STD

    Rephrase- Shine and co.
    ALP.
    Viv Waller.
    Julia Gillard.
    Their ABC.
    Victoria police.
    The Victorian ALP government.
    And finally lawyer X- who approved and sanctioned the tactics used to jail people in breach of the law,illegally- illegal conviction.
    What were the terms of reference of the Royal Comm- pyramid of Pell ,no less.
    Outcome: with the Catholic Church discredited- late term abortions, gay sham marriage and euthanasia, oops.

  • STD

    Vendetta.

  • Claude James

    Whatever else it does, the Church now would do best by using its resources to help ordinary people find their own way to Walk with God.
    That’s my view.
    Over its history, the Christian Church, in all its parts, has provided magnificent nett benefits to humankind.
    And now, just as it always has been, the imperative is to help ordinary people live here on Earth in tune with Divine purposes.
    And yes, we can use other metaphors for living life in the face of difficulties and terrors, both within and without.

  • whitelaughter

    have to my disbelief and delight found a traditional Anglican church on the Gold Coast which is my new spiritual home; so yes, keep looking, they still exist.

    Rather than having state funding, the way to abolish the entire Federal education department is to make school fees count as tax credits; the govt then bows out of funding all together, as parents can pay the entire fees direct because of the tax deducations.
    Insofar as a national curriculum is required, the 100 most successful schools (determined by size of waiting lists) can decide on that. No govt involvement required.

  • Max Rawnsley

    It is a vendetta.
    A reading of Broken Rites web site reveals the alleged disinterest of the Church and its various congregation is not true. It may be argued action was inadequate and not as timely as should have been. . As a Catholic educated in the schools I noted a few teachers had been dealt with legally. Others like Pell maligned by allegations, not uncommon.

    I doubt very much the Royal Commission would have been convened but for political inferences and Abbott being a Catholic. Equally I question the ambulance chasers from the legal profession as being other than a fee chase shrouded in justice. Its a phenomena not limited to sexual abuse allegation

  • Sydgal

    Regarding the political dimension, the Vic Premier’s tweet where he claimed he was not making any comment about the High Court decision was “I see you. I hear you. I believe you”. This was retweeted by his Attorney-General and several of his Ministers. There are images online of people who held up posters and signs regarding redress at the Royal Commission and at Cardinal Pell’s criminal trials. As per a Continuous Voices video, the current president of that group – CLAN – had a serious of artworks commissioned depicting Cardinal Pell as Prisoner 666, the Devil, Pell go to Hell, Justice for Witness J etc which were displayed outside the courts and appear to have been exhibited in Ballarat. CLAN members are pictured at a Jan 2013 function at Kirribillli House and then at social functions with the Royal Commissioners and others in Feb 2018. Patrons listed on their website include a number of prominent politicians.

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