Scholarship at the Cathedral: Archbishop Fisher, Godless Country (Part 2)

Archbishop Anthony Fisher presented on Godless Country. This is part two of a three part series on the subject.

In 2019, Archbishop Fisher gave a three-part lecture series on the topic of “The Godless Country?”. In his second lecture, he addressed a common question concerning the contribution of Christianity in Australia.

Below is an excerpt from this lecture.

Older members may recall a scene from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’, in which John Cleese plays Reg, a member of the People’s Liberation Front of Judea. He asks, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

To his frustration, his fellows respond to his rhetorical question, and they respond with example after example of the benefits of Roman civilisation.

“Alright, alright.” Reg concedes, “But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a freshwater system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Something similar might be said about the indebtedness or Australian civilisation to Christianity, and about the denial of history and plain ingratitude or some contemporary secularisms.

“Alright, alright. But apart from the sanity that sanctity brings to a world of sin; or the invention and maintenance of hospitals, hospices, and leprosaria; or the invention of the university and provision of the most comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary school system in the world; or the endowment and staffing of orphanages, aged care facilities, feeding for the indigent and other welfare services; or the many supports for marriage, family and local neighbourhood; or the ending of human sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery, infanticide, and a chattel conception of women and children; or the explication of a sublime moral code and vision of the virtuous person that still inspires so many; or the promotion of literacy, libraries and printing; or the advent of the scientific method, and much subsequence science, medicine, and technology; or the heritage of Christian art, music, literature, and architecture including our great Cathedral; or the corpus of Western theological and philosophical thoughts that provided the metaphysical grounding for our politics and so much else.

Apart from all this, my antagonist asks, what have the Roman Catholics, and other Christians, ever done for us?

Well tonight let me examine three areas of our lives which Christianity has done something for us in Australia – in court, in conversation and in culture.

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