Ch. 3: The shock of Depression: 1929-31

The year 1929 brought a steady worsening of industrial and economic affairs for Australia. Export prices fell, overseas credit sources dried up, and external trade, like world trade generally, declined. Employers and financial interests began to demand reductions in wages and government expenditure in order to lessen inflationary pressures, improve the competitive position of exports, and bring Australian standards of living into line with national income and production. Trade unions vigorously opposed these measures, and responded to the worsening employment and wage situations with strikes and increasing militancy. The year was marked by serious strikes on the waterfront, the coal-fields, and in the timber industry, and by a general weakening of confidence in the Federal and State Arbitration and Conciliation tribunals.

In Victoria, Archbishop Mannix began to speak with increasing frequency on the economic situation. His main preoccupation was the rising unemployment, and he called for more relief from the Government and more consideration from employers for those out of work. His tone was moderate, his concerns immediate: he supported no political party, and deferred to no social ideology, Catholic or otherwise. Speaking at church and school openings, foundation-stone layings, Communion Breakfasts and other functions, he persistently stressed the right of the working-man to the dignity of employment.

Every man who was ready and able to work had an absolute right to decent sustenance . . . The first claim on the industry should be its workers. There should be constant work for the men, or, failing this, constant employment.’

The main organ through which Victorian Catholics were acquainted with the statements of their Archbishop was the Advocate, the official Melbourne diocesan weekly. Edited by an Irish secular priest, Father Francis Moynihan, it sought to be popular, informative, and broadly liberal. It had inherited from the Austral Light a respect for intellectual competence, and in this regard was superior to any other Catholic paper in Australia. Its first two pages were given to the capable literary reviews of P. I. O’Leary, through which the interested reader could keep abreast of overseas literary happenings, Catholic and general.2 Its editorial page incorporated, in addition to the leader-article, a ‘Current Comment’ section consisting of a halfdozen or so segments on topical issues. It featured occasional articles by special correspondents on overseas Catholic affairs, a. regular ‘Our World News Service’ section; and frequently essays by leading English Catholic writers. During 1929 it ran a long series of articles by G. K. Chesterton entitled ‘What They Don’t Know’, directed against familiar Protestant and rationalist objections to Catholicism.

The second Victorian Catholic weekly, the Tribune, was much smaller than the Advocate, and was concerned almost entirely with parochial and social news. Its editorials rarely touched on politics, and when they did were more partisan, more clearly Labor-orientated, than those of the other paper.

In Sydney the official Catholic weekly was the Catholic Press. Its editor was P. S. Cleary, a veteran Catholic journalist who had been President of the New South Wales Catholic Federation in its hey-day. It was larger than the Advocate, and gave much more space to news from the individual dioceses of the State. However, it was less conscious of overseas happenings, and rarely contained feature articles. Since Archbishop Kelly did not share Archbishop Mannix’s predilection for speaking on public issues, Cleary’s editorials gave Sydney Catholics the only significant guidance they were likely to find within the local Church on social and political questions.

The other Sydney Catholic weekly was the Freeman’s Journal, which was owned by the Hibernian Society. Although the oldest Catholic paper in Australia, by 1929 it was little more than a parochial news-chronicle; and even as such, it contained little information which could not also be found in the Catholic Press. Its editorials were written in a windy and euphuistic style, and when they dealt with current affairs, which they rarely did, they were generally ill-informed and indecisive.

The social perspectives of the two major Catholic papers on the eve of the Great Depression were vague and insular, and, viewed in retrospect, ill-suited to the task of analysing the problems of the decade ahead. Ideological conflict scarcely impinged at all on the Australian Catholic consciousness. Communism rated only an occasional press mention, and then generally in reference not to Australia, but to religious persecutions in Russia. Mussolini was something of a hero with both papers, particularly in the months following the signing in February 1929 of the Italian-Vatican Concordat. Fascism as such, however, was ignored by the Catholic Press, and viewed with hostility by the Advocate, which in September equated it with Belloc’s ‘Servile State’.

The very thing upon which the Fascist State prides itself [i.e., its totalitarianism] will yet prove the rock of its destruction.3

The Advocate tended to attribute all commendable aspects of the Italian regime to Mussolini personally, and all distasteful and oppressive aspects to the Fascist Party, which it regarded as a semi-distinct and more malevolent influence. Even so, it rarely commented on European affairs except when, and insofar as, the interests of the Church were involved.

On Australian matters the attitudes of the two papers were remarkably similar. With regard to external relations they were nationalistic and isolationist, deploring in particular sentimental and economic reliance upon Britain. The Advocate spoke contemptuously of those politicians and newspapermen who cultivated the illusion ‘that England is a sort of doting mother whose heart throbs with maternal solicitude for its offspring, the Dominions.’4 Asia was perceived at a potential threat, and an increased I population as Australia’s best long-term security.5

On internal political and economic questions both the Advocate and I Catholic Press followed pragmatic policies, although their views generally I coincided with those of moderate elements in the Labour movement. The I most contentious issue of 1929 was that of Arbitration, and on this the Catholic papers, in strongly supporting the principle of Arbitration, were at variance with the Nationalist conservatives and the left-wing of Labour alike.4 Both papers tended to sympathise with employees rather than employers in industrial disputes, but at the same time they reproached those in the Labour movement who sought to overthrow the capitalist system, rather than to improve it.7 Only on fiscal policy was there a noteworthy difference between the two weeklies. The Catholic Press called for an expanded programme of public works as a means to create employment,’ 1 while the Advocate reluctantly advocated reductions in wages and government spending, maintaining that this was the only way in which the economy of the country could be stabilised.’ The Labour movement was united in support of the former course of action, and in opposition to the latter.

In September the Federal Nationalist government was defeated in the House of Representatives, and a General Election was precipitated. The central issue in the poll was whether or not the Federal Arbitration and Conciliation system was to be dismantled, with the Nationalists saying yes, and the Labor Party no. Both Catholic papers urged its retention, and left no doubt as to which political grouping they favoured.10. Even then, however, their support went to the policy of Labor rather than to the party as such.

The election took place on 12 October, and resulted in a resounding victory for the Scullin Labor team. From this point onwards the social perspectives of the Advocate and the Catholic Press began to diverge. As the Depression advanced, this divergence was to become increasingly pronounced.

When it became apparent that James Henry Scullin was to be Australia’s first Catholic Prime Minister, the Advocate’s previous restraint in matters of politics gave way to jubilation. It was delighted to note that Scullin’s Cabinet of thirteen would contain seven Catholics, three of whom – Scullin, Brennan and Moloney – were Victorians and ex-C.Y.M.S. leaders.11 It did not anticipate all ‘plain sailing’ for the new Ministry, but even so it felt confident that it should easily prove superior to the Cabinet which, on Monday next, will meet for the last time. 12

With regard to the new Prime Minister personally, the paper could scarcely find superlatives sufficient to do him honour. It drew attention to his ‘striking quality of Australianism’; to his ‘powers of lucid speech’; to his ‘straight and steel-true sincerity7. It boasted that it was ‘an experience to hear Mr. Scullin lecture on the need for a true Australian sentiment*. It attributed to him powers of leadership far beyond the ordinary: he was possessed of something of a quiet ascendancy over the House of Representatives, a mastery not of party nor even of power, but of personal influence, of demeanour, of unobtrusive dignity. 13

Archbishop Mannix was more reserved in his praise. He was pleased that Scullin’s Catholic convictions had not impeded him in his ascent to the Prime Ministership, but at the same time ‘He was not inclined to be hard on the outgoing Government as some people seemed to be’. He recognised that the new Administration faced a difficult task, and he cautioned that ‘The people should be patient with the Government’.14

In Sydney, the Catholic Press reflected the mood of Dr. Mannix rather than that of its Melbourne sister-paper. P. S. Cleary’s experience in the Catholic Federation, and his past activities as an anti-socialist propagandist,11 had left him cynical of political parties, the Labor Party included. His political comments were generally perceptive and incisive, and frequently sardonic. He welcomed Scullin’s election, but warned that ‘the new Prime Minister’s greatest danger will come from the back-seat driver, the loudmouthed demagogue outside Parliament’.14 He attached no significance to the predominantly Catholic composition of the new Ministry.

The events of the subsequent two years were to vindicate the caution of Dr. Mannix and the Catholic Press, and to shatter the illusions of the Advocate. Even as the votes were being counted which would confirm Scullin’s victory, the great Wall Street crash was beginning. In Australia, as throughout the industrialised world, the unemployment rate began to soar, defying all government attempts to stabilise the economy. Scullin’s Administration, buffeted this way and that, was never given the chance to find its feet. On its Right, the Commonwealth Bank Board refused to allow it the measure of credit it demanded, and its attempts to alter the composition of the Board were thwarted by the Nationalist-controlled Senate. On its Left, powerful sections of the Labour movement condemned its every effort to reduce government spending and to balance its budgets.

Stresses within the governing party began to show in November of 1930, when the Federal Labor caucus rejected Commonwealth-State budgetary agreements made in August. Early the following year the caucus split when followers of rebel New South Wales Premier Jack Lang withdrew and formed themselves into an independent Federal Parliamentary grouping. This rift was followed almost immediately by the secession from the caucus of ex-Ministers Lyons and Fenton. In May these two joined with the Nationalists to form the United Australia Party, with Lyons as leader. The following month the depleted Labor government roused the fury of large sections of the Labour movement when it at last agreed with the States to effect severe budgetary economies. Finally, in November 1931, weakened and demoralised, the Scullin government fell. In the General Election it was decisively defeated by the Lyons U.A.P. combination.

The Catholic papers stood loyally by Scullin throughout these two fateful years. Both the Advocate and the Catholic Press supported him on all major issues, and they consistently deplored what Cleary described as ‘the dog-fight methods of the paid Labour organisers’.17 However, since the Catholic Press had originally anticipated a difficult time for Scullin and his administration, it was not unduly shaken when the Government failed to surmount t problems. Cleary accepted with equanimity the verdict of the December 1931 elections.’18 The Advocate, on the other hand, had expected a great deal of Scullin, and his failure drastically affected its whole political outlook.

During the comparatively settled first year of the Government’s term of office the Advocate had sustained its eulogistic tone of the previous October, In June of 1930 it had canonised the Scullin Ministry as ‘unquestionably the ablest that has ever had power in the federal domain.”* In August, when Scullin departed for a four-month trip overseas, it pronounced him ‘one of the greatest of our Prime Ministers.’

In courage, resource, integrity and ability he is in the finest tradition of our most outstanding public men.20

When in January 1931 he returned to a deeply divided party, the Advocate felt confident that he would revive ‘the elements of sanity in the party’, and that ‘A rapid moulting of the “left wing” should follow.’21

While there still appeared to be hope for the government the paper maintained its traditional trust in political pragmatism. In March of 1930 it rebuked Labour radicals, and warned that ‘only the common sense and wise direction that made it the force it was’ would carry the Labour movement through to its legitimate goals.22 In September it denounced ‘Cheap and impractical theories’, and asserted that ‘What is wanted today … is the severely practical and constructive’.23

However, when in the final months of 1930 the Labor government began to show signs of disintegration, the Advocate’s faith in the ‘severely practical and constructive’ began to wane. In December it despaired that, since ‘the Labor Government has failed, more lamentably and completely than any other

it would seem that the Capitalist system is incapable of producing that just distribution of wealth on which the country’s welfare depends.24

For the first time, it showed disaffection with the existing structure of society, and it began ineptly to seek in Catholic social philosophy— poorly understood—an explanation of the world’s ills. In May of 1931 it proclaimed that the roots of disorder were to be found in mankind’s rejection of Catholic principles, and that the Reformation ‘was the seed of the deadly upas tree of unrestrained individualism . . . which so blackly presents itself to-day’.25 In July it dissertated at length on the ideological basis of current troubles, seeing them as ‘striking proof of the fruits of the withdrawal of Christian principles from man’s dealings with man’.26

Contributing to the paper’s burgeoning sense of fundamental social disorder was the international situation. No longer did Australia’s problems and their solutions appear to be comfortably insular; they were clearly tied in closely with world-wide developments. Yet the Advocate, as it looked towards Europe, could see little to inspire hope. It frequently deplored the influence of ‘Caesarism’ in Italy, where constant disputes occurred between the Vatican and the Fascist Government.27 From 1931 it began to report in alarmed tones the rapid growth in Germany of a new totalitarian movement based on Nordic racism—Nazism.28 Elsewhere a familiar enemy, Communism, was gathering strength. The paper warned that ‘The whole temper of the age, and the tendency to State absolutism and totalitarianism’ posed a formidable threat to the Universal Church and one which was likely to increase rather than diminish.29 Even so, it was the Church which represented the one remaining hope for mankind.

Alone in the world one Voice lings out clearly and definitely, directing men to the path that shall lead them to international peace and harmony and property in this world, and to eternal salvation in the next.30

The Advocate’s dramatic flight to Catholic social idealism was, however, at this stage more apparent than real. Its insubstantial nature is evidenced by the fact that the paper evinced no new interest in Papal social thought, made no effort to examine current problems in the light of Catholic principles, and did not attempt to stimulate the formation of study-groups. Indeed, when in May the most important Papal Encyclical of the decade, Quadragesimo Anno (‘On the Reconstruction of the Social Order5), was released, the Advocate gave it no more attention than basic protocol and respect for the Papacy demanded. The same applied to the Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno (‘Concerning Catholic Action’), which, was released at the. end of June.31

Yet regardless of its superficiality, the Advocate’s idealism represented the first sign that Catholic social philosophy had begun to acquire a new relevance for Victorian Catholic opinion-leaders. In seeking explanations and solutions for the worsening social disorder, they had become aware, however vaguely, of what was to them a new dimension of thought. Yet to explore this dimension an intellectual leap of major proportions was required.

Unbeknown to the Advocate, by the close of 1931 the organisation which would accomplish this leap was already in existence. From within that small section of the Catholic populace which had obtained a University education, a unique movement had arisen, and had begun propagating a new kind of Catholic militancy and social idealism. This was the Campion Society.

At Melbourne University, as elsewhere, the coming of the Depression had brought marked changes in established social attitudes. This was a time when universities were largely the preserves of the well-to-do, and when the general student outlook was implicitly conservative. Explicit interest in politics—and religion—was discouraged by unwritten but time-honoured codes of ‘correct’ student behaviour. At Melbourne University, the prevailing world-view was probably best typified in that of Professor Ernest Scott, the distinguished occupant of the Chair of History from 1914 to 1936, whose historical writings reflected a pride in British civilisation, and a confidence that the progress of mankind could be measured in purely secular terms.32

During the ’twenties the main variation from this traditional campus conservatism had been provided by a well-established strain of ‘liberal internationalism’, an attitude syndrome which enjoyed a global popularity during the first decade of the League of Nations era. Disseminated through the campus by associations such as the League of Nations Union and the Public Questions Society, this quasi-philosophy assumed that the way to universal harmony lay through disinterested consideration of all contentio issues. The emphasis was placed on discussion rather than decision, detach- ment as against commitment.

A reaction against this outlook had led to the formation in 1925 of ‘a more virile organisation’ in the Labour Club, the founders of which main, tained ‘that University men exercise far too small an influence on the politics of the country’.33 Although not affiliated with the Labor Party, and although consciously intellectual in nature, this club sought to prepare students to take part in the normal party processes of Australian political life. However, after a lively beginning, it sank into a passive state for the remaining years of the decade. A Liberal Club, formed shortly afterwards, passed out of existence in 1928. At the beginning of 1929 Farrago, the student newspaper, was of the opinion that ‘The heyday of the political clubs was over’.34

Not even the University, however, could escape the intellectual and social ferment which was unleashed throughout the world by the economic collapse which subsequently occurred. As unprecedented poverty and unemployment began to appear throughout the country, giving rise to widespread disgruntlement with the established social framework, the facade of student aloofness began to crumble. The times obviously called for social commitment and decisive action; and to the disgust of the ‘old school, politics began to attract an increasing amount of student attention. In May of 1930 the Melbourne University Conservative Club was formed;35 and in September an Australia Party Club came into being.35 By the beginning of 1931 Farrago was mourning the passing of the older, a-partisan traditions.

Farewell, happy fields! The childish realm of fancy and mimicry is left behind; the mad follies of Commencement are a sad, sweet dream; we must enter the sterner turbulent domain of party politics … 37

At the University as in other sectors of the community, many people began to search for a permanent solution to the existing chaos in a new and better social order. For some, the path towards a stable society seemed to lie along the lines of a complete change of social assured the Philosophical Society that

The ideal country is one of small townships and rural meat, tobacco, motor-cars, trams, must all be taboo.38

However, for many seeking an ideal society, a more tive model presented itself in Soviet Russia, that amongst the Occidental communities, had apparently escaped the effects of the Depression. During 1930 the Labour Club began to display an increasing fascination with Marxism, and with the Soviet experiment in particular. In March it formed a study-circle on Russia;* and a month later it spoke against the Debating Society in support of the motion: ‘That the effects of the Russian Revolution were really desirable’.

Significantly, the opposition team in this debate was made up of three young men from Newman College, Murray McInerney, Charles Gerard Heffey, and Raymond Triado. Another Catholic student, Valentino Adami took the floor during the general discussion and ‘attacked … the Red army’.40

TAs a result of their Catholic schooling, most of the ever-growing number of Catholic undergraduates regarded Communism, in theory and in practice, as a positive evil. Moreover, they were being made uncomfortably aware that many others in the community did not share this conviction. In mid- 1931 Father William Hackett, S.J., addressing the recently-formed, militantly conservative Melbourne University All-For-Australia League, gave voice to these growing Catholic apprehensions.

It appears that the daily press is too sympathetic towards Russia. It has a sneaking regard for the Soviet attitude to ‘obstructionist religion’. Thou Shalt not Kill’ is regarded as ‘obstructionist religion’ in Russia.41

However, the means for obtaining an intellectual appreciation of the Church’s objections to Communism, or of any other aspect of Catholic belief for that matter, were not readily available to the average student. The Newman. Society was merely a social club, and Catholicism did not constitute an intellectual force on the campus. This is not to say that Catholics were isolated: indeed, it had been one of the earliest achievements of Father Jeremiah Murphy, S.J., upon being appointed Rector of Newman College in 1923, to induce Newman residents to participate fully in University life.42 However, Father Murphy discouraged Catholic assertiveness, fearing that it could produce sectarian conflict and disrupt the general harmony prevailing among students. He ‘detested controversy — he thought that there had been too much controversy in the past?.43

Not all Catholics Were entirely happy with this situation. The new ideological stirrings were precipitating fundamental questions on the nature of man and the purpose of social enterprise, and these were matters on which the Catholic Church claimed a competence to speak. Late in 1930 Murray McInerney, as Secretary of the Newman Society, posted circulars to all known Catholic graduates — several hundred of them — requesting their advice and assistance in reference to possible Catholic intellectual activities at the University. The response was typically apathetic, with only seven bothering to reply. One of these, however, was a young Arts graduate and Law student named Frank Maher. Writing from the central Victorian town of Seymour, where he was employed as a temporary teacher, he expressed an interest in McInerney’s proposal, and promised to get in touch with him when he returned to Melbourne at the end of the school-year.44

In 1930 Francis Kevin Heathcote Joseph Maher was twenty-five years of age. He was an ex-resident of Newman College, and had concluded the first section of his Arts/Law course by obtaining Honours in History and Economics, and by winning the Wyselaskie Scholarship in the latter subject. He had been a member of International and Intervarsity debating teams, and since abandoning full-time University studies had spent some months in the Jesuit novitiate in Sydney. He had heard Father C. C. Martindale, S.J., speak in Melbourne in 1928, and had been impressed by the style of intellectuality which he displayed. From these experiences, and from his awareness of the new social currents which were gathering force in the community, he had become concerned at the intellectual backwardness of Australian Catholicism.45

He returned to Melbourne at the end of 1930 and succeeded in gaining a teaching post for the following year at St. Kevin’s Christian Broth > College. He had Murray McInerney’s suggestions still in mind when^ Christmas Day he chanced to meet an old school-friend, John Merlo at the International Tennis at Kooyong. Their conversation during the afternoon covered a variety of topics; but as they were leaving the grounds Maher later recalled, ‘One chance remark he made . . . convinced me, “This is the man to begin a Catholic Action Group”.’46

John Merlo was also twenty-five, and at the time was teaching at Melbourne High School, a selective State school. While at Melbourne University he had won the Wyselaskie Scholarship in both History and Economics; and he held a Master of Arts degree and a Diploma in Education. Quietish in manner, and giving an appearance of guilelessness, he was one of the few Catholics who circulated in liberal University circles, and ‘he knew all about the new liberal-internationalist outlook current in the few years before Fascism’.47 Like Maher, he realised that the ordinary educated Catholic had a poor intellectual comprehension of his Faith and its ramifications, and so he readily agreed to his friend’s proposal that they try to form some kind of a study-group. The two met again a week later, and Merlo suggested as a possible colleague a fellow teacher at Melbourne High School, Denys Jackson.

Jackson was a loquacious and erudite English Tory, and was then thirty years old. Bom into a High Anglican family, he had converted to Catholicism in his youth under the influence of the writings of Newman and the Oxford converts. He had taken out his B.A. from Liverpool and his M.A. from Manchester, specialising in the Elizabethan and early Stuart periods of English history. He had come to Australia in 1927 under contract to the Victorian Education Department, but upon his arrival had gained the impression that ‘Australian Catholics . . . regarded their Catholicism as ,a revered part of their Irish heritage’. Thus when Merlo told him of Maher’s proposal, he saw in it an excellent opportunity for

getting some intelligent Catholics, and giving them the idea of Catholicism as a cultural basis of Western civilisation. 48

Jackson in his turn approached a ‘brilliant, tempestuous friend’,4’ Frank Quaine, a gifted French scholar and outstanding University debater. Quaine’s father, J. P. Quaine, an occasional contributor of articles to the Advocate, was the proprietor of an antiquarian book-shop in Prahran, by means of which the son had acquired a considerable breadth of reading. He was deeply interested in European culture, and was a confirmed Francophile. He agreed with Jackson that the study-group scheme was worthy of support.

Maher contacted Murray McInerney, who proved amenable to his proposal; and he in his turn persuaded a lively red-headed friend, Gerard Heffey, to consent (hesitantly) to attend an initial meeting. At the time both were in residence at Newman College, preparing for the History Honours exams which would complete the Arts section of their Arts/Law courses. Both were active in College affairs and in the University Debating Society; and McInerney was on the staff of Farrago.50 They were well aware of the new ideological influences which had percolated through to the University, and had ‘spent the previous year arguing with contemporary undergraduates with Communist sympathies’. From this experience they had acquired ‘the beginnings of an intellectual interest in our Faith’; and they saw in the planned study-group a possible means of adding a tertiary dimension to their Catholic education.”

Maher also brought into the venture William Knowles, a twenty-six year old solicitor whose mother, Marion Miller Knowles, had been a prominent Catholic poetess and writer of the Austral Light era. Knowles invited along Arthur Adams, another recently-graduated young lawyer. Adams shared Law chambers with Mr. Harry Minogue, editor of Australia of thirteen years previously, and had been greatly impressed by the profundity of his older colleague’s religious convictions and literary knowledge.51

On 28 January 1931 the eight men gathered together in the legal apartments of Bill Knowles. All had emerged to some extent from the self-contained, inward-looking Catholicism of their day into the broader streams of University life; all had become aware of the new ideological currents which were buffeting their contemporaries; all had come to the ‘melancholy conclusion that they knew far less about their Faith than any educated man should’. They were ‘intellectuals and Catholics, not intellectual Catholics’.“ All were apprehensive, pessimistic: they had ‘no clear idea of what it was they were to aim at, no programme of work, no scheme of organisation planned’.54 At least three came expecting the birth of the new Society to be also its funeral. It was not the first time a few light-hearted young men had tried to move the mountain of Catholic inertia in things of the mind.”

For a while they sat facing one another uneasily: their conversation was ‘very vague, very formal, very silent’. But then Jackson took issue with Quaine over some comment or other; and, as Maher recalled,

He quickly became neither vague, nor formal, nor silent. He and Quaine saved us. We had come together because we felt that we were painfully ignorant of the modem Catholic approach to life, because we had realised we were being poisoned by slow degrees in the pagan atmosphere in which we lived. So we listened humbly and gratefully while Jackson and Quaine gave off fireworks about Latin culture and the neo-scholasticism of Maritain. We were dazzled and delighted.54

All the others were affected in much the same way. Heffey wrote:

I remember attending the first meeting of the Campion with a certain amount of misgivings, and I remember leaving it wondering why no one had ever thought of the idea before.57

Excited by the success of their first meeting, the eight agreed to meet again on 11 February, and each fortnight after that.” As their first text, they decided to study Survivals and New Arrivals, Belloc’s vigorous defence of Catholic belief against the diverse challenges of what he termed the ‘New Paganism’. As Heffey recounted, the impact of this work was decisive.

One has only to read the first sentence of this to discover, as we did, that he has a loyalty to the Faith of which previously he was not quite aware.59

Over the succeeding weeks they began to familiarise themselves with the Central Catholic Library, being assisted and encouraged by an increasingly intrigued Father Hackett. They became acquainted with the leading writers of the English Catholic Literary Revival; encountered ‘names and ideas and movements’ of which they had never heard.” They became absorbed in a host of fascinating new books, in works such as Belloc’s The Servile State and Europe and the Faith; Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man; Dawson’s The Age of the Gods; W. T. Walsh’s The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries. They ‘infected one another with enthusiasm; became filled with scorn of a decadent paganism’;6’ and their conviction grew that

The Church made Europe, and that everything good of which our modem world can boast has its origins in that age when, with all its defects, men proudly acknowl. edged a citizenship in a Christendom and a standard of values that are fast dis’ appearing. N

Their meetings were kept deliberately informal. Papers were given, but could be departed from at will. There was no set order of proceedings, no office-bearers, no minutes; yet the fortnightly gatherings were invariably stimulating, exciting affairs:

No-one of us dreamed of missing a meeting—if we had to go to a dance, we turned up to the meeting first.*3

The members tended to inspire one another through the interaction of their personalities and the play of their ideas. A semblance of order was maintained by Frank Maher, who displayed from the beginning a natural aptitude as a chairman. Undoubtedly, however, the central figures at this early stage were Jackson and Quaine, who, through the scope of their historical knowledge, their enthusiasm, and their conversational prowess, dominated the meetings. The others ‘learnt as much from their obiter dicta as from the paper given’.64 At the conclusion of the ‘formal’ proceedings, the participants would adjourn to Lucas’ Cafe in Elizabeth Street, where animated discussions would continue.

By the time a couple of months had passed, the eight had become conscious that they had developed into a unique society, an association which had no counterpart anywhere else in the Victorian Church. Where the Catholicism of those around them tended to be defensive, theirs had acquired an assertive, Chestertonian quality Where others interpreted the Catholic Faith intellectually in terms of traditional apologetics, they did so by reference also to its contribution to Western civilisation and culture. They thought of the Church not as a static entity, but as a dynamic force in a desperately confused world. Their enthusiasm was such that they ‘were regarded as dangerous fanatics in various quarters’; and Catholic individuals who were quite unused to anyone except the clergy talking of religious matters, were mystified and sometimes bored by our exuberance.*5

They had undoubtedly acquired a distinctive identity, and in April they resolved to adopt a name. They wanted a patron ‘who was a saint, but wasn’t Irish’44— someone who embodied the ideals to which they aspired. An obvious choice was Sir Thomas More, but they decided against taking his name lest it be confused with that of the famous nineteenth-century Irish lyricist, Thomas Moore.47

Finally, at Jackson’s suggestion,** they settled on another leading figure of the Catholic Reformation in England, on an Oxford scholar and Jesuit missionary named Edmund Campion, who had been executed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Campion appealed to them ‘because he was a University man, a brilliant pamphleteer, an incomparable conversationalist and a gallant martyr’.4* They applied to the Archbishop through his Admink strator for permission to constitute themselves as a Catholic society under Campion’s name; and at their meeting of 13 May they were informed that this had been granted.70 The Campion Society had begun.


1 Adv. 26 September 1929, p. 20.

2 A posthumous selection of O’Leary’s essays was published as Bard in Bondage, edited Joseph O’Dwyer (Hawthorn Press, Melbourne, 1954).

3 Adv. 26 September 1929, Current Comment. P. I. O’Leary was the probable writer of this, as of most other Advocate current affairs comments. Father Moynihan preferred to concentrate on the business and administrative side of the paper’s operation.

4 Ibid., 26 December 1929, Current Comment.

5 C.P. 18 April 1929, editorial; Adv. 4 April 1929: ‘Melbourne’s Example to Women*.

6 See Adv. 14 February 1929, Current Comment; 13 June,, Current Comment; CP. 21 February 1929, Editorial; 26 September, editorial.

7 Adv. 24 January 1929, Current Comment; C.P. 7 March 1929, editorial; 18 April, editorial.

8 C.P. 18 April 1929, editorial.

9 Adv. 24 January 1929, Current Comment; 7 February, Current Comment.

10 Adv. 26 September 1929, editorial; 10 October, editorial; C.P. 19 September 1929, 71 See 11 Chapter 2, footnote 66.

12 Adv. 17 October 1929, editorial. P. I. O’Leary reputedly wrote most editorials.

13 Ibid., 17 October 1929, p. 23. Again the writer was probably P. I, O’Leary.

14 Speech at C.Y.M.S. Annual Communion Breakfast, Tribune, 31 October 1929, p. 1.

15 Patrick O’Farrell, Short! History, pp. 236-7.

14 17 October 1929, editorial.

17 Ibid., 18 December, 1930, editorial.

18 Ibid., 24 December, 1931, editorial.

18 Adv. June 1930, editorial.

20 Ibid., 21 August 1930, Current Comment,

21 Ibid., 8 January 1931, Current Comment.

22 Ibid., 6 March 1930, Current Comment.

23 Ibid,, 18 September 1930, editorial,

24 Ibid., 4 December 1930, Current Comment.

25 Ibid., 14 May 1931, editorial.

26 Ibid., 30 July 1931, editorial,

27 Adv. January 1931, Current Comment; 4 June, editorial; 9 July, Current Comment 6 August, p. 11; 13 August, editorial.

28 For early attacks on Nazism, see Adv. 9 April 1931, p. 23; 3 December, p 8- 31 December, pp. 8, 13. ’

29 Adv. 22 October 1931, Current Comment.

30 Ibid., 4 February 1932, editorial.

31 Abridged texts of Quadragesimo Anno and Non Abbiamo were printed in the Advocate of 2 July and 13 August respectively. Subsequently they were rarely mentioned in the paper.

32 For convenient illustrations of Scott’s historical perspectives, see his History and Historical Problems (O.U.P., 1925); and his Men and Thought in Modern History (Macmillan, Melbourne, 1920).

33 Farrago, 3 July 1925.

34 Ibid., 15 March 1929.

35 Ibid., 13 May 1930.

36 Ibid., 9 September 1930.

37 Ibid., 28 April 1931.

38 Ibid., 8 April 1930. The speaker was Professor Demarquette.

39 Ibid., 1 March 1930.

40 Ibid., 8 July 1930.

41 Ibid., 7 July 1931.

42 For comments before and after the change had taken place, see articles by G.F. Taylor in Newman, Annual of Newman College, 1923, p. 48; and 1926, p. 42. Backcopies are held at the College.

43 Memorandum, K. T. Kelly to author, 1970.

44 Interview with Mr. Justice McInerney, May 1967.

45 e Telephone interview with Mr. F. K. Maher, May 1967. Draft copy of Campion memorandum to the Episcopal Sub-Committee on Catholic Action, late 1937, in possession of Mr. Justice McInerney.

46 F. K. Maher, ‘Campion Beginnings’. Orders of the Day. June 1939, in collection of Campion papers held by Messrs. Heffey and Butler, Solicitors, of Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

47 Interview with Mr. D. G. M. Jackson, May 1967.

48 Ibid.

49 F. K. Maher, ‘Campion Beginnings’.

50 See Newman. 1928 and after; Farrago 7 July 1931.

51 Interview with Mr. Justice McInerney. May 1967.

52 Interview with Judge Arthur Adams, May 1967.

53 Prelude to Catholic Action, A.C.T.S. No. 718, September 3 , p.7.

54 President’s (Maher’s) Report, Campion Society Quarterly Meeting, 24 Jan. 1934, H/B.

55 Secretary’s (Maher’s) Report, Q.M., 6 July 1932, H/B.

56 Maher, ‘Campion Beginnings)

57 C. G. Heffey, ‘Early Days of the Campion’. Orders of the Dav, August 1939, H/B.

58 President’s Report, G.M., 24 January 1934, H/B.

59 Heffey, ‘Early Days of the Campion*.

60 Ibid.

61 Ibid.

62 Prelude to Catholic Action, p. 8.

63 Maher, ‘Campion Beginnings’.

64 Heffey, ‘Early Days of the Campion’.

65 Ibid.

66 Interview with Mr. D. G. M. Jackson, May 1967. In fact Sir Thomas More was not canonised a saint until 1935, and Edmund Campion until 1971; in 1931 each bore the lesser Church title of ‘Blessed’.

67 Heffey, ‘Early Days of the Campion’.

68 Ibid.

69 Prelude to Catholic Action, p. 9.

70 Rough note, 13 May 1931, H/B.