Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mary MacKillop - so what?

So what if the media is devoting some air time to the canonisation of Mary MacKillop (St Mary of the Cross). Every year, hundreds of hours of radio, television and print media are allotted to footballers and football matches and the hooha that surrounds the AFL Grand Final, let alone the garbage that we must endure about celebrities such as Paris Hilton, et al.
If Australia's first Roman Catholic Saint was a man, rather than a woman, I'm sure that there wouldn't have been so many vitriolic comments made by journalists and others over the past few days, which tend to show bias against the Catholic Church (and I can certainly understand why) or use their articles to have a back hand swipe at those who have faith in religion.
Sure, I would be the first to have a go if I thought that canonising individuals into saint-hood was all just a publicity stunt by the Catholic Church, or that it was a fool-proof way of co-opting more members into the fold, given the continuous bad publicity being received by Church leaders. But no, papal canonisation has been going on for centuries and it will continue to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to bettering the lives of others.
We tolerate those who collect buy, collect and wear celebrity t/shirts, poster, drink holders, etc, but find it unacceptable that the Vatican and others will be selling similar items that celebrate the lives of worthy individuals.
Can't we just be happy that someone like Mary MacKillop has been recognised for the good that she's achieved in her life ~ regardless of whether or not we believe in miracles and prayer? Isn't it great, that instead of hearing about paedophile priests and allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic priests that we can focus upon (if only for a few hours, if we really want to ~ no complaining please, all you have to do is turn off the reports if you find them all so obnoxious) that this woman, cared for the poor, lived what was considered as good life, was a teacher and educator, who was excommunicated because she dare speak of child abuse?
I won't be watching the telecast, but I can say that I am not at all surprised that Australia's first saint is a woman!


  1. Based on my own knowledge of the cover up of child abuse by the Catholic Church I flat out don't believe the story about her being excommunicated because she found out about it. I'm not saying she wouldn;t be aware of it, but I feel that history is like the retouched photographs of her, an attempt to recontextualize her in the present day. I reckon her vows of poverty posed a much greater threat to the Church in times when child exploitation was normal, and went unremarked. Vows of poverty are an ancient anathema in the upside down world of catholic theology, it was an emperor that kicked the whole thing off, after all. And of course, the Church is a misogynist hierarchy. She was doing what Marx and Engels did, what the IWW was doing, and what the Black Panthers did later; offering pride to communities that politics of the day would rather keep disempowered.

  2. According to Fr Paul Gardiner:
    'The reasons for Mary MacKillop's excommunication, which was rescinded less than 18 months later, have always been given as insubordination and disobedience, due in a large part to her determination that the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph would not be under the control of a local Bishop but have the freedom and autonomy to work across all states in Australia' ~ she was certainly a rebel.
    I was one of the first girls to attend Mount St.Joseph's College in Altona when it opened in 1964. The school followed the teachings of Mary MacKillop and its motto is 'virtue and courage'. My catholicism has wained, but not my admiration for Mary.

  3. So we see that the current round of publicity is pure propaganda. Of course, that doesn't take anything away from the good works the Josephites do, but it does account for some of the hostility from mainstream commentators, who recognise spin when they see it.

  4. You might find these letters interesting:

  5. all religions are fairy stories. As David Marr said on the ABC Insiders yesterday Mary MacKillop does not do magic tricks from Heaven. It is an insult to families who have loved ones die of cancer to be told they didn't pray to the right "saint" or worse not pray at all. MM was a women to be admired but this religious circus makes me sick.
    Lauren (hope I can still come to lunch

  6. Unfortunately the divide between religion and politics is narrowing. Looking forward to seeing you lunch time tomorrow.

  7. Thanks for the reference. Yes it is interesting. I wonder what the "The seditiouss funeral oration given by this priest..." was about.

    The writer notes (about the Josephites disollution)
    "The two primary principles of poverty and humility were to be taken away and the Sisters gradually directed away from the poor, for whom they were principally founded, and towards the higher classes."
    Seems to underscore my point. Poverty and humility are always a threat to the patriarchy, which, on the whole, is neither poor or humble.

  8. Agree. Perhaps they thought that attempting to help the poor was futile? Particularly since they were (and are still) considered unworthy by many people. All of this certainly brings to light the disturbing aspects of Catholicism.