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On the Canonization of Mary MacKillop

When the going gets tough, the tough get going - generally going as far away as possible and leaving a woman to clean up the mess. Such is the principle of Australian politics that led to Carmen Lawrence, Joan Kirner and Kristina Keneally taking on ground breaking roles for women as state premiers being left in charge of terminally sick state governments.

With the need to appoint an Australian saint to
boost the tourist industry enhance the Catholic faith, the Catholic church has accepted local traditions for dealing with troubled times and given the job to a woman. With paedophile scandals reaching higher and higher up the Catholic hierarchy, choosing a woman reduces the risk of an embarrassing mistake in canonization. On October 17 this year, Mary MacKillop will become the first Australian saint, recognizing her founding of the Little Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (and of course having delivered the requisite two miracles).

Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870, the unofficial patron against doubt and hesitation, as well as the patron saint of fighting communism, and of a happy death [not to be confused with a
happy ending, Ed.]

As the church expanded across Europe in Roman times, they created local saints by rebranding
local nature gods and spirits of the weather. In recent times the Catholic church has largely dispensed with this practice, and done a cull , although the practice continues unofficially. The church now tends to only canonize people who actually existed. Apart from the risks, noted above, of canonizing people who actually existed, the Vatican has not released statistics on whether this new practice has increased the number of miracles, or whether the old nature gods had been happy to keep on answering prayers under their new Catholic names.

These issues are important to resolve, given the variable nature of the Australian climate. The signs do not look good. In spite of her close connection to the area, the soon-to-be-sainted Mary MacKillop was
unable to prevent the Penola tornado. In spite of his extensive expertise as a climate scientist, Cardinal George Pell, former functionary of the Scared Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Inquisition has remained silence on this aspect Mary MacKillop's influence with God.

Cardinal Pell feels that canonization of Mary MacKillop as Australia's first saint, will bring renewal of religious feeling. Other Catholics feel it will be a reminder of the amount of pagan superstition that still adheres to the Roman Catholic faith.
Mary's long slow road to sainthood may have caught the Roman Catholic Church at a bad time. With the Anglican community fragmenting over gay and/or female priests, the Catholics are trying to entice as many Anglicans as possible. The progression of Henry Newman towards eventual canonization shows that Anglican defectors might even achieve sainthood without having to suffer the inconvenience of being burnt at the stake by protestants. The canonization of Mary may be an impediment to belief among the Anglican community, since much of the British Commonwealth [especially the cricket-playing nations, Ed.] regards the term "Australian Saint' as an oxymoron.

Prof Dr Moritz Lorenz. Sarah Palin School of Geography, Economics and Quantum Computing University of Narbethong West Island Campus, NZ