Containing "contamination": Cardinal Moran and Fin de Siècle Australian national identity, 1888-1911

Mark Hearn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Cardinal Patrick Moran, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney 1884-1911, believed that Australian Catholicism would flourish with the emergence of the new nation through Federation in 1901, provided that Australians turned away from foreign influences, including anarchism and nihilism. Moran also sought to use Australia to "Christianise" the enormous population of China, and believed that Chinese immigration could make a useful contribution to nation building. As the nineteenth century closed, Moran's aims were also complicated by the more insidious threats represented by a challenge to religious faith by fin de siècle ideas - a modernism manifesting as both a general challenge and a specific doctrinal relativism that might erode the Church's authority, and the threat Moran felt was posed to the development of the liberal Australian state and the Catholic Church by radical political alternatives. Concern that a mood of religious apostasy and secularisation might spread to the Catholic community also influenced Moran's support for the fledgling Australian Labor Party, which Moran believed could develop as an instrument to reinforce a moral and inclusive sense of Australian identity for the Catholic working class. Like his pro-Chinese views, Moran's advocacy of "the rights and duties of labour" was defined by an imagined alliance of evangelism and nation building, stimulated by the fear, as he expressed in 1891, of "an unchristianized world."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-35
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Religious History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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