I sat next to Greg Craven once. It was a Zoom event with six of my Facebook friends on screen as well. This virtual group was a small snapshot of a much larger audience for the launch of Craven's book, Shadow of the Cross, Catholic Social Teaching and Australian Politics. I didn't buy the book but I did read the article Greg wrote for the Australian which the Catholic Weekly chose to reprint this week. This reflection is my response to the article.
What a hoot!! When I first read this, I thought it was a new script for a revival of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The manic hyperbole is the very stuff you could see John Cleese delivering from a window of Fawlty Towers. Look at this litany of memorable quotes:
- Smug Catholic left
- grand mugwumps.
- radical gang of lay bomb-throwers
- The Molotov cocktail faction
- religious Bolsheviks
- muttering imprecations.
- perfidy of bishops and politically incorrect laity.
- new Catholic managerial class.
- brash, and self-regarding
- despised, stumbling bishops
- want is to get their own pious hands on the levers of power.
- Catholic haute bourgeoisie
- grey-haired boomers, male or female, in love with the swinging 60s
- woke church.
- condescending ideology
- ideological bureaucrats
- woke, weak and wounded, and under their control.
upon reading the comments I realised that this is meant to be a serious piece of religious journalism. The author is not back pew Catholic and reminds us that he is Professor Greg Craven. The last person I knew who was called “professor” was Julius Sumner Miller of TV fame.
The best throwaway line in this piece is where Greg Craven launches into what he calls the “new Catholic managerial class These are the clever Catholics who run major operations , and welfare. Professor Craven describes such Catholics as “brash, confident and self-regarding". I seem to remember somewhere back in recent history that Professor Greg Craven featured as one of the Australin University Vice Chancellors receiving over the mark in annual renumeration. Do I see pots and kettles outside Greg’s home?
Catholics appear to be less inclined to tick their box in the latest Census and if you read the comments on the Catholic Weekly Facebook page where Professor Craven's article was shared you might understand a reluctance to identify with some commentators and their friends.