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Neither blame nor thank the Jesuits for Abbott and co.


Tony Abbott in his schooldays

Most Jesuits I know are tired of being reminded that any selection of Messrs Abbott, Hockey, Pine, Joyce, and Shorten went to Jesuit schools. And tired, too, of the intense gaze and fearless investigative questions that follow the reminder: 'Are you happy with them? Why won't you take responsibility for their evil-doing? When will you and the offending school publicly dissociate yourselves from them?' (Not from all of them, of course, but after a division on party lines.)

There are various strategies to deal with these questions. Ever the coward, I mildly respond with another question, 'Yes, but did you know that we Jesuits also educated Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, Gordon Liddy and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith?' In the puzzled pause that follows, as my interrogator wonders how these gratuitous facts may be relevant, I make my escape.

But the fact that these questions are more often asked about Jesuit than other kinds of schools suggests Jesuit education has a mystique. It is enshrined in the dictum, 'Give me a child till the age of seven and I will show you the man', attributed to Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. This is taken as testimony to the power of Jesuit education to mould the character and beliefs of its students, and consequently as grounding the demand that Jesuits take responsibility for the way in which their students later behave.

There are two problems with the conclusions drawn from this aphorism. First, Ignatius did not say it — he disapproved of Jesuits teaching young children. But, more to the point, it is daft. No school up to, or after, the age of seven has that kind of power.

My own experience may be illuminating, if only because it ought to support the myth. I was educated at a Jesuit school and was very happy there. I liked, admired and was inspired by some of my teachers, Jesuit and lay, enough to become and to live happily as a Jesuit. So I was clearly influenced by the values and beliefs articulated and embodied in the school.

But the reason I was open to influence was that the values and faith of the school were coherent with those of my family and of the broader Catholic culture of the time. Were they not so I would have resisted what the school imparted, as many did.

The power of the school to shape me according to its values was also limited by my temperament. No retelling of the story of Ignatius' courage after his leg was broken by a cannon ball could overcome my innate timidity.

The school's power to instill its values was also limited by the nature of communication. The beliefs and values enunciated by the school were necessarily translated into a boy's world and were changed in the process. Caps were mistaken for faces. If communism, heresy and divorce were wrong, for example, it followed that communists, non-Catholics and divorced people were bad or inferior. The Gospel message of loving your enemies was lost in transmission.

Neither did the school rule beyond the grave. It was the beginning of the making of the man, not its end. Beliefs, attitudes and values commended and embodied there — and not all the stated values were embodied in school practice — were tested by new experience and new relationships, and either chosen or ignored as a rule for living. The exhortation to serve the poor needed to be confirmed by getting to know people who were poor, and priorities intellectually affirmed had to be embodied in hard choices.

The critical events and relationships that shaped my lasting religious, political and social commitments came after schooldays. I believe that this is almost universally the case.

From this perspective it seems absurd to hold schools responsible for the way in which Messrs Shorten, Abbott, Joyce, Pyne and Hockey behave in their adulthood. Schools will have influenced them, too, in good and bad ways, but ultimately they are their own men, not simply old boys of this or that school. It is as absurd to hold the school accountable for any bad things they do as it is to credit it for the good things they do. School are necessarily unprofitable servants.

So we Jesuits have no call to apologise for, or to take pride in, Mr Abbott and his fellow students of Jesuit schools. We are not responsible for them. But we are responsible to them, as we are to all our alumni, even if they languish in public life or in public prisons.

That responsibility is to see them as human beings and not as things, to respect them for the flawed humanity we share with them, to deplore the inhumane actions or policies they may be responsible for, and to refuse adamantly to exclude them from our prayers, or ourselves from their company.

Oh, by the way, did you know that Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade went to Jesuit schools?

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street.





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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCRUPWDIgYM The Australian public are very fair and they are always prepared to give the leader of a major political party a fair go.Tony Abbott

AO | 05 August 2015  

My Penguin Encyclopedia reveals that the Marquis de Sade (Donatien Alphonse Francois, comte de Sade) (1740-1814) was educated in Paris. So, this reveals two things about the Jesuits: the City of Light is part of their educational reach and one of their alumni has been responsible for providing the language with a new word. Pretty good record, I'd say!

Pam | 05 August 2015  

Bravo, Andy. Dont forget Paul VI and Francis as alumni. Or Descartes. Mrs Goebbels failed to get her boy admitted, but Emperor Bokasso and James Joyce and Arthur Conan Doyle and Bing Crosby were.

Greg O'Kelly SJ | 05 August 2015  

Well yes. And no. Not just Jesuit educated, but Catholics, not just in the Liberal Party but right at the ratbag edge of conservative politics. What have YOU done? What have WE done?

Jim Jones | 05 August 2015  

Of course it is absurd to simplistically 'blame' a school for its 'products'. But I think you're being overly defensive. Established schools make a habit of fawning over their success stories and inviting them 'back' as inspirations to the next generation. So, I guess you have to take the good with the bad. The broader question is, what is the roll of Catholic Education, especially when some schools clearly cater for those who are so well off? Again, it's complex, but we should never stop assessing our schools in the light of Gospel teachings about the poor and marginalised.

Tony | 05 August 2015  

as an old Ignatian from Adelaide I reflect sadly on the large number of my classmates who no longer attend Mass.I understood that the practice of the Faith was the paramount reason forf attending a Catholic school

Mark Kelly | 05 August 2015  

Yes, Andrew, 'responsible to them'; and the thing that I would like to see is the Society reaching out to let these men, all educated before the Arrupe revolution took hold in Australian Jesuit schools teaching about ' the faith that does justice'. If Abbott and Hockey had any inkling of that the cruel budgetary measures of the last few years, the defunding of so many services to the needy, the preaching of the line that it's not government's role to be providing services - that's the job of philanthropy, would have been avoided. But perhaps a real history lesson about Australia's proud record of government provided, or government initiated, social justice provisions, if it could get through skulls thickened by neo-liberal ideology, might change them a little.

Joe Castley | 05 August 2015  

As did the first Jesuit Pope.

David O'Halloran | 05 August 2015  

Many of us know that many of our leaders were educated in catholic or other christian led schools - Abbott, his co-conspiritors in power, Pell, Fisher, Hart etc. BUT let's all hope that one day they might each decide to become CHRISTIANS and treat the rest of the world and its peoples with a strong Christian zeal.

John B. Wilson | 05 August 2015  

My favorite Jesuit Old Boy is James Joyce, whose education in The Classics and attempts to scare him with the fires of Hell gave him the skills and material to become one of the 20th century's greatest writers in English. I doubt if his Jesuit mentors took any pride in his achievements.

Uncle Pat | 05 August 2015  

Thanks Andrew. I believe we are now seeing the lasting impact of the church divided through the influence of Bob Santamaria and his movement and the creation of the DLP. Those sections of the church that were/are committed to social justice and human rights have struggled for decades to gain any institutional support (Although I now see some hope with Pope Francis) while those who accept without question that communism, heresy and divorce etc are wrong, went on to use any means available to control the church and to destroy any organisations that did not agree with them. As you said that approach ignores the " Gospel message of loving your enemies", if that is what I am?

Bill Armstrong AO | 05 August 2015  

The one attribute Messrs Abbott to Shorten have in common is (ta ra ta ra) Ambition. Ambition for personal success, to be top dog. Not, I think, the ambition to make the world a better place, though many setting out on a career in politics will claim that, and for some it is true. Personally I believe that anyone with an overload of personal ambition should be deemed unsuitable for any position of power. Perhaps the medical profession can develop a test to be applied at birth. Or perhaps on graduating from any Jesuit College?

Vin Victory | 05 August 2015  

A terrific article Andy. I find it easy to forget that Abbott and co were Catholic school educated. There are times with some of their policies that their Christian perspective and moral compass are sadly absent.

David Ahern | 05 August 2015  

Individual Jesuits; Jesuit Provinces; Jesuit schools and Jesuit alumni vary quite considerably over time and from place to place. The current Australian political setup: where an important part of the Coalition front bench is made up of Jesuit alumni and the Leader of the Opposition is an Old Xavierian is one which would not exist in the 1960s, when the top echelons of the Liberal and National Parties were very pukka and Protestant. There was also an ambiguous relationship between the Catholic Church and the Labor Party, even when its Leader was Catholic. That situation has changed considerably due to the success of Catholic (not just Jesuit) education in raising leaders and the diminution of the Protestant/Catholic split in national life. The key question to me seems to be "Now that Catholics (including Jesuit alumni) are in positions of power in this country, are they any better or worse than anyone else?" I would suggest a simple response would be impossible.

Edward Fido | 05 August 2015  


Jim Macken | 05 August 2015  

Why should Jesuit schools apologise for students who seem to THINK! Half the point of thinking is that you do it for yourself! Isn't that Ignatius's principle...that you think for yourself in a Godly way!. Not quite so sure about the Marquis de Sade but most of the others seem to have got it. I think the practice of the Examen is quite critical....and indeed Inigo himself says this (we are still within the octave of his feast!) If we do not do anything else, then checking where God has been with us and we have been with God is life-giving! I am not, incidentally, Jesuit schooled....deeply sad about this....I am actually an Anglican. I was schooled in the State systems of the UK and of SA. The Jesuits, it seems to me, are not propagandists, they are promoting wise and independent thought. As an educationalist myself, and then a parish priest...it seems to me this is what Godly Christianity is about.

Stephen Clark | 05 August 2015  

Avoiding finger-pointing and offensive moralising, I'm still left with the question: did any of these guys learn in depth about Catholic Social Principles teaching throughout their various schooling experiences? It does seem as though their approach to government/the market owes everything to Murdoch's view that markets are not only the most efficient but also the most MORAL of systems - a monstrous ideology! How could Abbott and co have swallowed this if they'd had a CSP training?

Len Puglisi | 05 August 2015  

Greg Dening in his history of Xavier College remarked with reference to the Australian chapter - "the Jesuits held a contradiction within themselves. In spirituality they were meant to be men of prophecy". But, "in their institutions, however, they were men of establishment and regulation, distrustful of eccentricity and deviance". Such emphasis on conformity might be why of the 18 Xaverians who entered different parliaments 15 sat on the conservative side of the House. Of course parental homes are an influence, but when listening to Christian Brothers educated Kerry O'Brien interviewing Jesuit educated Tony Abbott , there was left an impression that the former had a superior understanding of universal social justice and not an adherence to narrow vested interests. The Government of Abbott, Hockey, Pyne and Joyce have made it very clear that the poor have little right to justice or material security. These men are no friends of Eureka Street.

Justin Moloney | 05 August 2015  

I went to St Kevin's a Christian Brother's School and loved to try to beat Xavier boys on the footy field [not often did we succeed]. When I went to Corpus Christie College Werribee at age 18 I met many Jesuits and one especially, Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ, who influenced [no changed] my life for ever. But all the time I reckoned I was in charge of the outcome.

Mike Bowden | 05 August 2015  

I am one of those people who have challenged Jesuits in this regard. The current Jesuit mantra at Xavier College is "men for others". The "other" being the marginalised, alienated, isolated etc. Surely all the mantras that the Jesuits encourage in their schools are there to convey values consistent with Catholic Social Teachings? So why is it so difficult to be prepared to declare the inconsistencies between what values these politicians would have been exposed to and the values that their Jesuit education offered them during their time at a Jesuit school. There are too many of them to ignore this contradiction. I remember when my father engaged in challenging the Protestant preference for employment to be given to Protestants first. How true it is that the oppressed become the oppressors. A neo-liberal agenda is in direct conflict with catholic social teachings and values. I feel that people have a right to ask Jesuits where they stand in relation to the current political emptiness on show with former Jesuit-educated political leaders in Australia at present. I know some parents who are asking if sending their children to Jesuit-educational institutions would actually instil values that guide their children to be "men for others"....

Mary tehan | 05 August 2015  

Jesuit schools, OK. But what about a Jesuit University that sacks a professor for taking a Catholic line and standing up for freedom of speech?

Gavan | 05 August 2015  

Spelling the name Pine instead of Pyne is a testament to your humanity Andrew, as is your generous treatment of these former jesuit students.

Laurie | 05 August 2015  

Great article, BUT....How much influence do the families of school students have on these these leaders? How much does the longing for power override the earlier learning from schools and families? Perhaps the ultimate guide for leaders of all persuasion in conscience and self awareness.

Judy Lawson | 05 August 2015  

There is little doubt that a Jesuit education promotes high Ideals. However Ideals work ideally only for ideal people in Ideal situations. When they come up against Reality, especially in the dog-eat-dog arena of party politics, compromise is needed. An ideal outcome is often at odds with practicality, and self interest can often trump ideals, especially under the seductive influence of party solidarity.

Robert Liddy | 05 August 2015  

All right you lot - apart from Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis, Descartes, provision of quality education services, commitment to social justice, practical assistance and guidance to the poor and the marginalised, a forum for reflection and debate in Eureka Street and a broadening of our social and spiritual lives _ WHAT HAVE THE JESUITS EVER DONE FOR US?

Paul Coghlan | 06 August 2015  

This is not the first time, Fr Hamilton, you have broached this subject - May 2014 was the last occasion - 'protesteth too much?' I reiterate a couple of points I made on that occasion. An integral element of a democratic society is those who legislate are held to account. They are held to account on the basis of their policies, their accreditation, their qualifications, their ethical behavior, their claims to principle - or lack thereof. They are subject to the judgement of the people. Would it be unreasonable to expect, from those who claim some ethical, humane code, treatment of asylum-seekers other than the disgraceful inhumane , un-Christian degradation to which they are currently subjected? We can be grateful we have had in history such people as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Helder Camara who actually believed that religious conviction, or at least claims to some ethical code, demands obligations.

John Nicholson | 06 August 2015  

Fair enough, Andy. But it is also who you know not what you know. The networks with the rich and influential gained from a Jesuit education may be accidental to intellectual learning, but they are the career ladder for many a person in power. That network is priceless, though not all can afford it. I doubt the relatives of Jesus or Ignatius would have had the cash or been recommended to go to a current Jesuit college. What is difficult for Jesuits to recognize is the status they have and the benefits of same. Jesuits are clerics and enjoy the protections of clericalism in status, employment, health, housing and welfare. A recent article suggests that Abbott's Rhodes scholarship was ably assisted by the assistance of Emmett Costello SJ and his many influential associates. The teaching is one thing but the raw material is vital as is the environment, one in which Jesuits had become captives of the standards of parents who sent their kids to be educated with enormous privileges at school and after. One of my reasons for leaving the Jesuits was that I could no longer teach in a Jesuit school with a good conscience. Sure, the Society sought to train leaders, but how come so many are on the right?

Michael D. Breen | 06 August 2015  

Aren't we missing the point by focusing on whether the Jesuits are are culpable or not? Surely the message here is a bit like the observation that 'patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels'. Perhaps the lesson is that we should beware of any and every politician who claims that his/her ethics are founded on his/her religious belief. I don't mean the ones who, when pressed, humbly acknowledge the influence of their upbringing, but rather those who tend to wear their religion on their sleeve, as a sort of badge of superiority. The content of his/her maiden speech might be a good litmus test, or essays that they have written on the influence on them of people like Bonhoeffer, or B.A. Sanataria, etc., or what they have had to say about their own faith to the ACL and similar activist groups. I suspect that if we follow that approach we would gather up most of the hypocrites from all sides of politics, not just those currently in government.

Ginger Meggs | 06 August 2015  

Melbourne 60s Mannix A big push in the Catholic community was education for children to emerge from our humble origins and take our rightful place alongside the Protestant ascendancy in society. Well we did. And while deep education is a wonderful thing, look how much we lost as we mostly just pushed our way into the vocational bourgeoisie Abbott, Shorten, Hockey, Pyne, Andrews, Robb definitely do not rate any mention in my prayers. It is for others to offer forgive or not forgive them, certainly not me.

Mikie | 06 August 2015  

My main theme in my very recent email on this very topic was that Abbott and Hockey in particular proudly claim and display their Jesuit schooling and Abbott's foray into the priesthood seminary training as if testament to their fine characters. This is what sets them apart from the others and in my opinion requires the Jesuit community to speak out. The others you mention, to a much lesser extent generally do not parade this as their badge of honour and credibility on their sleeves.

Amina Bracken | 06 August 2015  

I agree with Mary Tehan's general thrust. I have often wished that there was some statement from the Jesuits that “This is not what we teach” when appalling policy after appalling policy is proposed or enacted, not attacking the politicians personally but commenting on the actions simply because it is so well known that they are products of a Jesuit education. I feel all the more strongly about this because I am still in a state of shock re remarks made to me recently by a 'friend'. She said in conversation about Abbott and Co, “I blame their Catholic education.” The first time she said it I was so shocked that I fluffed it. The second time I reminded her that I'm a Catholic and asked would she mind not saying that in my presence. Her response was to ask didn't I think it was unhealthy for so many Catholics to be on the front benches! This supposedly educated woman was channelling the bigotry of 60+ years ago. How many more are there like her? “This” is the reason why I think Catholic educators, and Jesuits in particular, should be speaking up at regular intervals, not to condemn or disown Abbott & Co per se but to tell the world what values “are” taught in Catholic schools.

MargaretMC | 06 August 2015  

The point of the article is surely in the perception that we are what we desire to see ourselves as we take our place in society evolving as we do .For my part I went to a Christian Bros. School Lewisham and was encouraged to see social justice and its attainment as my goal in life. I in turn selected SAC for my sons because it was a Jesuit education that I saw would fulfil their persona to make the world a better place and so far the Society of Jesus has not let me down. Like Jim Macken I too have embraced leftist causes and I admire him as he led the charge from the Industrial Commission. In the end what counts is can you add to the ferment of the universe and undertake God' s will as we give of ourselves. This is what inevitably makes for a better society . After all didn't we learn that love without sacrifice is to no end ? The Jesuits have produced countless individuals who practice what they preach so let's not dwell on the few notables who can be seen to be exceptions rather than the norm. St Ignatius deserves better and thank God for the Society of Jesus.

Stephen Stanton | 06 August 2015  

It is 3 minutes to midnight. I arrived home 20 minutes ago and have accessed my day's emails to find this great article. For the last two days I have been attending the 50 year anniversary of the first kidney transplant in NSW, where I was the transplant surgeon for 35 of those years. It was a celebration of the care for human life against what at times seemed almost insurmountable odds. The surgeon whose vision started the dream (Nobel prize), the surgeon who did the first successful transplant in the world (Nobel prize), the surgeon who did the first infant transplant in the world who attended University in a Jesuit College (the after dinner speaker tonight) and who had 6 sons and three grandsons at Riverview and three grandsons at Xavier, the guest of honour at the dinner tonight, the Professor of Surgery at Oxford, (old boy of Xavier) were prominent in the world of transplant surgery and major contributors to world ethics and were all products of the Jesuits. Everyone appreciated the Jesuit influence of which they were very aware during the celebrations. Shakespeare had a wonderful appreciation of human nature when he wrote the lines "The evil that men do lives after them the good is oft interred with their bones". It is difficult to find a lot of evil in the Society of Jesus amongst the mountainous good!!! But there are always those who will search till they believe that they have found. Every leftie in town hates the Jesuit boys in government not because of what they do or say or because of where they were educated but because they are conservative. They also hate all conservative politicians regardless of where they were educated. It is called the socialism of hate not the socialism of love for one's fellow man and is the signature of the current generations of the Labor Party. They hide their hatred behind the faux concern for social justice issues a wonderful smoke screen.

john frawley | 06 August 2015  

You should apologise for and be ashamed of Bill Shorten. Jesuit education does not have a mystique. It is a scandal. A waste of the educated committed men serving the children of the rich. Nothing Christian about that.

Adrian | 06 August 2015  

"By their fruits you shall know them." I have often thought it vain for educators to claim past students' success as sign validating the influence of their schooling. As Andrew pointed out there are many factors at work: family, the historical time, social contacts, intellectual capacity etc. as well as the school. It is therefore absurd to select one factor alone. More significant is the influence of a good educator or a series of them to fire the imagination and encourage a student to be Christ for others in his world wherever that may be. Andrew appears to have enjoyed such influence in his Jesuit schooling as I did with the Christian Brothers. A good Catholic school needs such teachers whether it be Jesuit, Christian Brother, La Salle, Marist or Mercy, Presentation, Brigidine or Josephite. We need to form young people in our families and communities to accept the call to so noble a calling. Truly it takes a whole village to bring up a child.

Ern Azzopardi | 06 August 2015  

Sounds like you had a good dinner last night John. And what you were celebrating was worth celebrating. But 'socialism of hate' for 'conservative politicians'? May I suggest that it's not hate that you are seeing but rather disdain for hypocrites irrespective of whether they are 'conservative' or otherwise.

Ginger Meggs | 06 August 2015  

Hmm. One does wonder if schooling has no influence on the outcome of student lives why anybody is bothering to educate these kids...?

Shane | 06 August 2015  

It’s early Friday afternoon as I write this. I’ve just had a nice lunch and I’m reading the various ES topics, sitting at a north-facing window enjoying the winter sunshine. I was also enjoying John Frawley’s comments on this fine article and more or less murmuring agreement about the hills of good the Jesuits have done over the centuries. I wouldn’t say mountainous because I would be a bit more critical of the negatives, but they have certainly added value to humanity. But then the rant about every leftie in town following a socialism of hate took away some of the good feeling. I would identify with the centre-left rather than the right (“righties” doesn’t sound quite right) and I can assure you John most of the lefties I know are not consumed by hate of Jesuits or by hate of conservatives. We look at what is happening in the world and I can’t say we don’t dislike the politics of the right, but our concern for social justice is genuine, if at times a bit idealistic. If you want to talk about hate, it would not only apply to some on the left but also many of the rightwing commentators peddling their bile. Remember how they treated Julia Gillard? There are haters in all areas of life. But it’s too nice an afternoon to talk about hate. I’m glad you had a memorable and well deserved anniversary, congratulations on your own achievements and I’ll put your closing remarks down to a drop or two of a good red (no leftie pun intended) and reading your emails in the middle of the night, not always the best time. Cheers!

Brett | 06 August 2015  

I have thought about this conundrum for a while. I think it is not just what values are taught in any school but what are the values taught in the home as well. Some privileged children are shielded from the plight of those less fortunate and the cause of social justice can be distorted i.e. I'm all right so you should be too. I think it's also the level of faith development of the individual. Many people get stuck in the "rules" and don't question why.

Norma Marot | 06 August 2015  

Good afternoon, Ginger Meggs. When you say that the hatred is for hypocrisy you are almost certainly correct. I just don't understand why in the bulk of the ES postings we rarely see the same venomous disapproval of hypocrisy extended to the Labor politicians who long ago abandoned the Christian principles on which the party was founded. They no longer even extend lip service to Christian principles - I suppose they are not being hypocritical in that, but I would dearly love to see the Christians and particularly Catholics abandoning them because of their abandonment of those principles. Yes, I know, GM. I'm a difficult, crooked old bugger!!

john frawley | 06 August 2015  

If the Jesuits did really have an influence on them they would be both atheists...

Joe Toscani | 07 August 2015  

Sounds like a great lunch Brett. The "socialism of hatred" was not my invention. I regret I can't recall the exact reference but I think it was an article in Ignatius Insight (the US on line equivalent of ES and highly recommended if you do not already subscribe - free) which compared the atheism of the militant left with the Christian love of our fellow men on the other side of the coin. Perhaps "hate " is too strong a word but I was quoting it as read. Incidently, I had to drive home some 30 ks and loosened my tongue on only one flute of the good stuff! I have had many years of doing the writing in the middle of the night - its the quietest time and concentrates the thought process!!!! And at my age you need something to concentrate the process. I hope my brand of socialism is not the brand that aligns with the ALP - hopefully I am a socialist of the other type I've mentioned here. PS - haven't voted for any party in the last 16 years or so!

john frawley | 07 August 2015  

Good article, Fr Andrew. With God's grace & the "wisdom" derived from great mentors over many years as a "Catholic" Christian (& looking at my own shaky progress, in doing some social justice work), I have learnt 2 things : 1. We are all flawed beings who are, even at our most altruistic, but "channels" of God's grace. We all have many weeds among our wheat. 2. We are all works in progress, slowly becoming more loving people & we are all on different journeys - journeys back to the same loving Father/Mother God. As the saying goes - "There is so much bad in the best of us & so much good in the worst of us, it ill behoves some of us to speak ill of the rest of us." PS But we often still do just that, and we have a God who understands & forgives that in us.

John Cronin, Toowoomba Q | 07 August 2015  

Thanks John. Actually, I used the phrase 'disdain for the hypocrites', not 'hatred for hypocrisy'. I’m not convinced that the labour movement, any more than capitalism, was founded on Christian principles, but I’ll agree with you there is on the left, as well as on the right, a shortage, though thankfully not a complete absence, of truly principled men and women. It’s actually the ones who pay only lip service to any kind of principle, Christian or otherwise, that trouble me most. But perhaps that’s because I’m also a DCOB.

Ginger Meggs | 07 August 2015  

I wouldn't be too quick blame the Jesuits for the way Tony Abbott turned out at least; he's just a spoilt brat and maybe deprived of the cooking spoon on his btm.

Lynne Newington | 07 August 2015  

I went to Christian Brothers schools and these "old school schools" always resulted in really confident people.

Michael | 07 August 2015  

They also educated me, Alfred Hitchcock, Edmund Purdom, countless, Bishops, priests and laymen, from their same college in North London. Even a Cardinal, "Heenan" and a Papal Nuncio, "Bulaitis" , so it's not all bad!

Peter Brown | 07 August 2015  

Are some commentators here aware that the Society of Jesus is committed to schooling in Sydney's western suburbs and Timor Leste? Pope Francis has made it very clear that faith and the service of justice are integrally related, as the Jesuits formally affirmed in their 31st General Congregation in the 1960s. Pursuit and implementation of this mandate is evident in all Australian Jesuit schools today in both core curriculum and practice.

John Kelly | 07 August 2015  

There is a long held claim "The school makes the man " Well my great teacher/mentor & legend to thousands ,Marist Brother Anselm ,challenged this by claiming " The boys make the school " .What they bring to it from their homes .Regards John

john kersh | 07 August 2015  

Thanks Andy for the article. The 6 or 7 Jesuit-educated men being referred to are no better or worse then any other representatives we have had in recent years. It seems to me the issue to be grappled with here is how sad, how deflating is this when we admit that they are not only Catholic educated but Jesuit educated. All the money, dedication of lives and hope spent from Mary Macillop onwards in bringing forth Catholic social teaching and that is the result. With this apex of our educational efforts we are still lacking good leadership that has the good of the country and no less our world at heart that inspires the people to be the best they can be. We cannot blame or thank the Jesuits for Abbott and Co. But as an educator I can be disappointed. What opportunity to make a difference not only in our country but a difference in the world is lost. With all the advantages and education given these men they give us no inspiration. No inclusive vision, no prophecy, and no modelling of a new way

Colleen Keating | 08 August 2015  

I affectionately remember my Jesuit priest secondary teacher declaring that he wouldn't let us loose on the world without reading aloud every word of Mathew's Gospel. That gospel put some very pointed words in the mouth of Jesus about the poor and excluded e.g. The sermon on the Mount and the sheep and goat criteria for the Last Judgment. You simply can't blame the Jesuits as a whole (even though I remember also a couple of embittered men in the collar who made life a misery for all and sundry). By any impartial judgment, the political actions of Abbott, Hockey and Pyne have trashed the message of Jesus, with the $11 billion cuts in foreign Aid and their plans in Social Security payments to the unemployed, disabled, carers, single parents etc. Life saving drugs, vaccines, food aid, clean water, shelter etc are not only about health and well-being but sometimes about life and death itself. The pollies must wear the responsibility for this, not their educators. But I do feel that, given these ex-students are so high profile, the Jesuits as a group should consider formally dissociating themselves from this Neo-liberal policy cruelty.

Mikie | 09 August 2015  

In reply to Uncle Pat, Ulysses would not be the book it is without the structural education instilled at Belvedere and Clongowes Wood. I have always judged that the vast Homeric parallel organisation of Ulysses is the product of an education in which categories and forms are given strong priority. Although Joyce's book is unquestionably a comic putdown of the puritanical Catholicism of 1904 Dublin, his acknowledgement of the Jesuits as formative influences on the book shows up frequently.

PHILIP HARVEY | 10 August 2015  

To PH : Although Ulysses is a complex work, it is possible to discover aspects of it by close reading and analyzing specific aspects of particular episodes. I use a variety of critics of Ulysses to discover aspects of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in the Scylla and Charybdis episode, the ninth episode of Ulysses. I discuss the importance of specific allusions and parallels between characters, notably with Stephen Dedalus, Hamlet, Leopold Bloom, and Shakespeare. I note the rhetorical aspects of Ulysses, and how they pertain to Shakespeare’s play. Through deconstructing the context and the setting of both Ulysses and Hamlet, I bring forth salient aspects of each work. I discuss and analyze the influences that both Shakespeare and Joyce had while composing their respective works, including the questions that pervaded the mindset of Elizabethan England, and the opinions of Shakespearean critics that were popular when Joyce was writing Ulysses. The aim of my thesis is both interpretive and scholarly, as I seek to unravel the threads of Hamlet in Ulysses, and discover elements of James Joyce in the process. http://content.lib.utah.edu/utils/getfile/collection/etd3/id/1894/filename/1905.pdf Also the thesis of an Italian, English literature uni student friend of mine, more than 25 years ago...

AO | 11 August 2015  

A very entertaining article.It is amazing how we tend to assess someone's worth by factors like attending certain schools etc.Reminds me of why I chose to marry a Catholic instead of the man who was prepared to become a Catholic! Well,I spent 57yrs.of my marriage trying to teach my husband how to be a Christian! Furthermore,he took pride in letting me know he was a "born Catholic"! I and my family were baptised when I was 4yrs old! I enjoyed your article,because it resonated with my experience! Thank you and God bless.

MYRTLE MOODLEY | 17 August 2015  

Challenging to read Andy and his respondents a year afterwards. It fits disproportionately with the man I met at Oxford with Brendan Byrne one bleak afternoon on the High. Aussie Jesuits, at one time several of them, alongside missioners like Frs Grogan and Lachal, were a race apart: smilers all, infectiously friendly and always availing. An SHCJ superior (their foundress, the terrifyingly austere Cornelia Connolly) insisted it was their climate that fed their sunny disposition. (One accordingly became the godfather of our first Australian child). For us this was revolutionary, since the Indian Province of my youth was dubbed 'Sub Junthawallahs' (or 'know it all' SJs) renowned for their scholarship but not their pastoral attitude. At school we were exposed to the likes of Frs Goreux, who had worked with Einstein, and Antoine, whose knowledge of the Arts was second to none. More like the English Jesuits, whence they had sprung, particularly on class terms and for whom colleges like Stonyhurst served to nurture the remnants of a ravaged Catholic aristocracy. Andy is half right: resistance breeds rebels, not just contempt! There are legions of dissentients formed by Jesuit schools everywhere. Pope Francis surely makes up for the lost ones.

Michael Furtado | 03 October 2016  

If any blame is to be allotted to the Jesuits, perhaps it is for abandoning the spirit of Ignatius who resisted the will of Pope Urban and the tradition of Religious Orders of reciting the Office in choir, so as to free his members to be able to work effectively where need lay. By 'loyally' following the mistaken paths Church Leaders chose, such as the rejection of 'Modernism', which attempted to correct the erroneous 'Traditions' of the past, the Jesuits not only did themselves no favours, but allowed the Church itself to sink into the quagmire of irrelevancy in which it finds itself struggling at present.

Robert Liddy | 07 September 2017