Now, dear reader, that you have fallen for the clickbait headline, let me say that it is quite true, mostly.
For 40 years Catholic priests were not permitted entry to Australia from settlement in 1778 until 1820 when Frs. Therry and Conolly arrived. Let me qualify this.
A Catholic priest, Fr. Dixon, had come to the country around 1802, but he came as a convict having been sentenced for collusion in the Irish rebellion. He did eventually become a freeman and said a public mass. The Governor relented too in 1817 by allowing a Fr. O’Flynn into the country; alas, he was sent packing after a year. Finally, in 1820, 42 years after the First Landing, the first two permanent priests were permitted entry. Thus, for almost half a century tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of left-footers suffered religious persecution. “Persecution” is not too strong-a-word since the practice of that brand of faith centred around the Sacraments which only priests could perform.
Why was it so?
THUMBNAIL VERSION: Simply, the Micks in England and Ireland had been suppressed ever since Fat Henry; and Cromwell had done a job on killing off lots of Micks in the fair isle. Those feisty Irish though wouldn’t go down without kicking up a stink and priests were viewed as leaders or potential leaders of rebellions and sedition. Moreover, they were viewed as loyalists to the Vatican before they would give loyalty to the Crown. To be sure, to be sure, they would surely cause trouble in the new colony.
PERSONAL ASIDE: Cromwell’s genocide necessitated Irish ancestors, such as my own, to adopt the survival measure of having half the family convert to protestantism while the other half remained Catholic. From ancestral enquiries, this occurred in both my and my wife’s family – although my ancestors were Irish gentry, while hers were Scottish criminals deported to the Great Southern Prison [earning their title as Australian Royalty]. As both sets of ancestors wound up in Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania], they were deprived of the ability to practice their faith fully, having their offspring baptised, married or buried by a Methodist minister, of which there was just one in them there wilds of Northern Tassie. It is a matter of record that through the descendency the true faith returned to this amalgam of allegiances; none ever took up arms against the colonial gummint, while plenty of them fought – and plenty died – in both World Wars.
The first Christian Brothers – Bodkin, Lynch and Tracey – didn’t arrive until 1868 to offer Catholic education to young men, 90 years after settlement. They founded CBC Parade in Melbourne, my alma mater.
But the persecution was not quite over. Enter Archbishop Mannix [Melbourne, 1913-1963].
Manic Mannix was a fly in the Gummint ointment throughout, mainly due to his conflicting views of conscription. At one point, due to return to Ireland for a vacation, he was advised that his return would be refused re-entry, – so he didn’t go. In true Irish spirit he found a way to present the Gummint with a middle-finger salute. St. Patrick’s Day Parade was Melbourne’s biggest public event by far and was usually led by the Arch in an open car – as per the picture above. On said occasion, to show the great civic powers that it was He who had the support of the soldiery, not them, his vehicle was preceded by a dozen VC winners on white chargers – again, as this picture shows. That was tellin’ ’em!
There we have it. No Great March on the Sydney Harbour for a Reconcilliation with the Micks. No apology for the suppression and persecution of one religion. No compensation or reverse discrimination. No special benefits. No Sorry Day.
No – we descendants would not even think of it. Demeaning. Perish the thought. FECK OFF THEN AND LET’S GET ON WITH LIFE.