Skip to comments.Australia’s first atheist PM celebrates nation’s first saint
Posted on 08/06/2010 3:14:57 PM PDT by James C. Bennett
SYDNEY, (AFP) - Australias first openly atheist leader Friday declared her support for the countrys first saint-in-waiting, Mary MacKillop, saying her October canonisation would be a "great celebration" for the nation.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged 1.5 million dollars to festivities for MacKillops anointment as Australias first saint at a fundraising dinner in Sydney on Thursday night.
"It will be a fantastic celebration around the country, the canonisation of Mary MacKillop," said Gillard.
"Whether you believe Mary MacKillops a saint, whether you believe she was a great Australian pioneer providing education to kids who needed it, whether you believe both, this is a great moment to celebrate."
Though secularism is enshrined in its constitution, Christianity is Australias dominant religion, with 64 percent of the population designating themselves as belonging to the Christian faith in the latest census.
Sessions of parliament begin with the Lords prayer and Gillards rival for the August 21 elections, Tony Abbott, is a staunch Catholic who was once in training for the priesthood.
Gillard snatched the leadership from elected prime minister Kevin Rudd in a June coup, and if returned to office in her own right the childless former lawyer will be Australias first female leader and its first unmarried one.
Shortly after taking power Gillard declared she would "not pretend a faith I dont feel" but she must curry favour with the Christian vote in order to win the election and become the first atheist to take Australias top job.
Gillard told Thursdays canonisation dinner that MacKillops sainthood was historic for all Australians, not just the nations five million Catholics.
"For all Australians, who share a country in which we put freedom of religion into action every day by respecting each others beliefs, it is a time of celebration," she said
MacKillop, a bold and pioneering woman who founded her first school in a disused Outback stable, was born to Scottish parents and had a rebellious streak. She was briefly excommunicated from the Church for insubordination.
The Vatican said in February it would canonise MacKillop, after recognising that she had miraculously healed two terminally ill women who prayed to her years after her 1909 death.
>>”Whether you believe Mary MacKillops a saint, whether you believe she was a great Australian pioneer providing education to kids who needed it, whether you believe both, this is a great moment to celebrate.”
Now that’s how an atheist should act. Not like those petulant little children in the US that are offended by other people’s religion.
This fellow really comes across as an agnostic. Not the “well if I know anything, it’s that there sure ain’t a God” clowns. Maybe he was harder bitten in his youth and is being prepared for an encounter with the Lord that will settle the question for him.
The "fellow" is a Sheila.
Whoops, I blame bleary eyes. Gal, as we say in the USA.
And Mary MacKillop, by the way, was a prodigious person --- one heckuva lady (Link). Reminds me of such American heroines as Elizabeth Seton, Frances Cabrini, Katherine Drexel, Mother Angelica, Dorothy Day.
Looks like a reasonable lady, not at all like a polemicist. I think a lot of atheists were weaned on pickles (redneck theory).
Well, you’d really be talking agnostic, again. Does not wish to rule anything out. As one of those awful ‘protestants’ (Evangelical Christian to you, thank you very much) the canonization procedure looks like a procedure intended by Catholics to verify that the soul of the person in question really did make it to heaven, followed by a celebration of that status once the Catholics are satisfied that heaven is the locale of the dearly departed’s soul. I’m not by any means agreeing on what it succeeds in doing, but only on what it’s meant by Catholics to do. Fair enough? We awful ‘protestants’ would look for a visible commitment to faith in Christ by that person on earth, and then say yes the person is in heaven, and skip the other stuff.
This sort of peculiar vitriol does pop up from occasion to occasion here. I like to think I am more broad minded than that, but it may be my C. S. Lewis bias or my Baptist-esque bias. Identification of the Roman Catholics as the “whore of Babylon,” besides sounding awfully startling next to real life experience with real Catholics, seems to run into the biblical wall that is popularly called the “rapture.” At that time, all Christian congregations will by definition lose their believers, who will be translated to heaven right from where they are, poof, in an unsplittable moment. It takes little reason to see that’s when all hell will break loose. Shades of Left Behind? Well if it is, it is. This “whore” if it is a body of people at all, could just as well be the Southern Baptists as the Roman Catholics. Or some ungodly conglomeration thereof. All will be under overwhelming control of unbelievers. There is no need and probably is no use to try to single out the “whore” now. She doesn’t strut on stage till later.
What some Catholic girl break your heart?
I remember my younger brother saying accusingly to my father, “I thought you recommended Catholic girls!”
My dad said “I said they were easy, not that they were good.”
Ok... one more.
Son says to his dad, “Dad can I have $5 for a guinea pig?” He says “Here is $20, why don't you take out a nice Irish girl?”
Told that one to my Grandma who is half Italian half Irish, but always says she is Italian.... suddenly she was Irish! ;)
Naw, I mean real Catholics just don’t come off as anything sinister, unless they are the clueless ones who cheer on abortions and such.