Keynote Address
for the
2009 ACHS Conference

Catholics in Australian Public Life since 1788


Keynote Speaker – Fr Edmund Campion

Edmund Campion, a Sydney priest, taught history at the Catholic Institute of Sydney for a quarter of a century. Author of eleven books, he was named ‘Best Columnist 2008’ by the Australian Catholic Press Association for his historical series in Madonna, a spirituality magazine. His latest book is a biography, Ted Kennedy, Priest of Redfern.

Keynote Address on Catholics and Pluralism – a Preview

In the society that began here two centuries ago, Catholics were the first ethnics. That is, they asserted their differences from the ruling culture. To do this, they built and maintained their own school system, which handed on their separate culture to successive generations.

Over time this evolved into a distinct Australianity distinguishing them from the men and women of the British Empire. Sectarian rows in the decades between the two World Wars were not really about religion, they were about this question of identity: what did it mean to be Australian?

Thus when the big migration programmes began, after World War II, Australia had in place the template of a multicultural society. Influence in history, however is never one-way. The Catholic community which had pioneered pluralism in society now had to learn how to be pluralist in religion.

2009 Conference
Catholics In Australia Poster