Can he actually do that?

Cardinal Pell has issued an edict “demanding that students and their parents be more devout”. I’m afraid I’m just picturing a man in a silly hat raising his arms and commanding everyone by the power of Christ to believe! Shall we all just laugh at him?


  1. Brian says

    Pell is trying his best to win conservative wackjob title here in Oz. Recently he tried to pervert the political process by saying catholic ministers who voted for a stem cell bill would be in danger of eternal damnation.
    He’s not silly though, by forcing catholic schools to be almost entirely full of unfortunate kids of catholic parents, it will ensure there are few or no voices from other beliefs, or non-belief. Thus strengthening the indoctrination.

  2. NC Paul says

    Well, he can demand all he wants.

    It seems unlikely that it’ll do anything other than make him look sillier than he already does.

    Unless he’s been dishing out mind control drugs in those cute little wafers. (Of course, one could argue that the cute little wafers are mind control drugs, but that’s a cesspit of a different odour.)

  3. MartinC says

    You may mock but if you read the article and have some experience of faith ‘backed’ (rather than ‘based’) schools in a non US setting you might understand the reasons why.
    Many of these types of schools have more selective entry criteria than ‘competing’ public schools and as such often tend to attract the better off members of the community to send their children who can afford for extra tuition etc. This usually ends up in a situation where there is a large disparity between the exam results of the faith school compared to the public school – with the faith school giving the better results.
    Since parents want the best results for their children the faith school becomes the one to send them to.
    The Cardinal, by making it easier for practicing catholics to send their kids to this school, is therefore creating an environment whereby parents, if they want their child to get into this school, will have to be visibly practicing catholics (going to church, financially contributing etc).
    I personally know quite a few families who regularly attend church services for exactly this and only this reason – to pretend to be religious so that their child can qualify for entry to a religious backed school – and this is in the UK where the religious backed school gets most of its funding from the government!
    Its not silly that the Cardinal acts this way.
    Its simply good business practice.

  4. says

    Pell is a dangerous man, in that he represents the Catholicism of intolerance of the 1930s. Worse, he stands a chance of becoming pope sometime. You may not think this is a worry, being that this is a problem for a theist institution, but he will end up increasing religious and other forms of intolerance, and Catholic politicians seem to be following his lead.

  5. One Eyed Jack says

    No comment on the edict. It’s what I’ve come to expect.

    I was distracted by the writing style. Was that really a professionally written piece? Each sentence was a separate paragraph. It just looked like a list of bullet points with no flow to the story.

    Basically, it was bad enough to be something I might have written. I know they stopped teaching ethics and objectivity in journalism schools, but don’t they still teach writing?


  6. D says

    Are these schools state funded? Can religious schools getting state funding discriminate based on religion in Australia?

  7. john macc says

    “Fears that the drift of Catholics away from the Church’s schools is seriously “watering down” numbers of the faithful has forced Cardinal Pell and other Catholic leaders to take action in a bid to reverse the trend.”

    This shows two things. It illustrates how the main priority of the Catholic Church, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, is to itself. The Church is not concerned with the welfare of the children in their schools, only with the number of people sitting in their churches, and contributing to the collection plates, every sunday. the only good child is a catholic child.

    Secondly, it is an acknowledgment of the importance of exposing the child to the religious message from a young age. when propagating irrational (or faith-based) belief systems, it helps when those being instructed are not fully capable of logical thought.

    both observations are excellent arguments for the removal of all religious bodies from the education system.

  8. says

    I’m picturing the same thing, and yes, I think we should laugh at him. He’s just after a little job security and isn’t bothered by pushing superstition on others to attain it.

  9. says

    I’m embarrassed to say, coming from my own ethnic group (yes, Im one of them), a local jewish parochial school with a decent educational reputation tells its families not to have birthday parties on Saturdays, and to keep kosher…families look around in restaurants before ordering. It’s even said that teachers can be fired for marrying gentiles.
    I guess you get what you pay for…we have excellent public schools (in the American sense, you crazy brits!).

  10. Zahri says

    Comment #8 – yes, all primary and secondary schools in Australia get state and federal funding, as it’s considered that all children deserve to go to school and that the government should support that. Non-government schools especially get a good percentage of their money from the federal government.

    What Pell’s talking about are Catholic Systemic schools, which are the biggest system of non-government schools, and educate about 20% of Australian kids. They’re not the ones with high fees; they’re your local alternative to a government school and funded fairly similarly. The Catholic Education Department are allowed to, and do, discriminate in both enrolments and hiring teaching staff – unmarried mothers who are teachers in the system tend to be exceptionally good about keeping their mouths shut about the lack of marriage certificate, as they tend to find themselves out of a job if they make much noise about it near a diocese rep. Many of the schools who have high numbers of prospective enrolments already cull the herd to the local parish members and the kids who have siblings already at the school.

    Because Catholic Systemic do teach 20% of the kids, and no one really wants a repeat of the 1962 Goulburn Strike (All the Catholic schools in Goulburn shut for a week, and dumped the kids on the already over-extended public school’s doorstep. In 1963, Menzies started federal funding for all schools), the government won’t do much, aside from a couple of Senators telling Pell where to get off. The public schools just don’t have the facilities to take the kids.

    From my reading of what the good old Cardinal said, he’s simply trying to get the schools to actually stick to policies that pretty much already existed, instead of quietly ignoring them as they usually do.

  11. obscurifer says

    Wow. It worked on me. I’m doubling my devoutness. So what’s zero times two again?

  12. says

    Any Catholic leader who tried to do this in the U.S. would be shooting himself in both feet. Many non-Catholics and lukewarm Catholics send their kids to Catholic schools, which in many areas have a much better academic reputation than do the local public schools (as well as being more affordable than ritzy private schools). If a cardinal or bishop took it upon himself to purge the parochial schools of all but the most strictly observant Catholics, the enrollment and accompanying tuition revenue would immediately plummet.

    Incidentally, when I was a lab TA and biology instructor at the college level in Michigan, I met quite a few Catholic school grads who had a much better grounding in biology (read: evolution) than the graduates of either public schools or the pervasive “Christian schools” that catered primarily to conservative Protestants in the area. Then again, with entirely too many American Catholics falling victim to “fundie envy”, I wonder how long this will last.

  13. NC Paul says

    In the best tradition of Nelson:

    England expects every man to do his duty?

    Ha Ha! (with disrespectful finger point)

    Oh – THAT Nelson.


  14. Eric TF Bat says

    My Dad’s a Catholic primary school principal (I’d translate that for you, Pee-Zed, but I figure you can work it out) so I can confirm much of what’s been said here. Catholic schools are frequently turning kids away — the demand outstrips the supply — which indicates that they’re doing something right: they’re not over-charging with school fees or they’d be able to afford more classes! In general, the private (ie mostly-Catholic) school system provides a better education in Oz, and gets a lot less of the public funding to do so. (The stats are skewed by a few ultra-rich private schools, generally Anglican rather than Catholic, in Sydney and Melbourne, that get funding because most of the conservative politicians here are old alumni.) They make up the shortfall with fees, but they’re more relaxed about payment than their critics would have you believe: nobody is turned away because they can’t pay — in theory at least.

    What Pell seems to be saying is: if you have two applicants for one place, and one is a poor catholic and the other is a rich non-catholic, DON’T turn the catholic away in hopes of getting more money. Catholic schools are for catholic students. It’s one of those “well, duh” statements that doesn’t deserve knee-jerk criticism. Christianity is supposed to be about helping the poor; if the schools aren’t doing that, they deserve criticism from every corner, including the top.

    Unfortunately, in Oz we have two idiot clerics: the Moslem one is Sheik Taj el Din al Hilally, and the catholic one is Cardinal George Pell. I refer to them as Sheik Taj el Din al Pell and Cardinal George Hilally, because they’re largely interchangeable. The fact that Sheik Pell is saying something justifiable in this instance doesn’t make up for the crap he’s spouted in the past, so I think you should feel free to continue pointing and laughing.

  15. Wobert says

    The Daily Terrorgraph is not renowned for quality journalism.

    Our local Catholic school here has 24 students,and of the parents, I doubt whether there’s a fair dinkum catholic amongst them.By Knucklehead Pells standards anyway.About half are not from a catholic backgound and go there because it’s a good little school. Yet when it comes to working bees and other volunteer work these same heathens and others have a real crack.One bloke I know, who Before Children, got in more fights and trouble than I’ve had hot dinners spends Sunday arvo mowing his lawns, then the schools lawns,then the oval and various other gardening jobs.I’d love to see George Pell tell him to become more devout and go to church.How much grass can one person swallow?

    Only recently they received a large government grant for a shipload of playground equipment and various other stuff,all assembled and erected by these same people, a massive commitment and effort.What for? To improve the facilities and hopefully to improve the standard of education for the students.Not to increase the numbers of suckers that the parasitic catholic church can bleed one way or another.

    What I find hilarious, is the fact that this school is totally run by women,teaching staff and office workers,you know, those second class beings.How stupid the powers that be must feel,no women, no school, or church for that matter.Another thing that makes me laugh is that a woman that works in the office part time is an atheist,(my better half) and the Principal has been shacked up with her boyfriend for a couple of years.Jeebus, I’ve actually said something about the Catholic Church without swearing.

  16. says

    I guess there’s a precedent (or sorts). I keep picturing Homer Simpson thumping a TV set and ordering it to “Be More Funny!”. A cardinal thumping his congregation and ordering it to be more devout seems to work on the same principle.

  17. Man of Science says

    I work in New Orleans, and religion is very strong in this area. Strangely enough, this area is also saturated with strip clubs and adult novelty shops. Go figure…

  18. Ex Patriot says

    This is not surprising from a jackass who belongs to a institution that has perpetuated myth for the last 2000 years and will continue to do so until the stupid wake up which will never happen. Fortunatly there is a lot of free thinkers in the world who may be able to counteract this line of complete BS.

  19. Gobear says

    The Catholic Church served as a network for shielding pedophiles from the law and enabled them to find new victims. The current pope was neckdeep in the business and even went so far as to blame the victims for speaking out about the abuse they suffered at the hands of priests.

    Given their church’s history of complicity in these crimes, Cardinal Pell needs to sit down, shut up, and stop pretending that his brand of sky wizard has any connection to compassion, concern for others, or any other sort of morality.

    Primitive thinkers like Pell like to call their code “morality” when it is only a set of taboos.

  20. says

    Typical Catholicism/Christianity: do as I say! Now! And if you don’t, you’ll all go to Hell! Give me more money! God is poor! I need another big hat! And more gold chalices! And we need to keep alive our nuns who are wasting away their lives praying for the end of suffering while we don’t do anything directly or explicitly to help! Hand it over!

  21. says

    One has to wonder if this is meant subjectively or objectively? Is this a warm and fuzzy on the part of the ordained, or are there metrics like frequency of confession and of communion that are used?

  22. says

    The phones were ringing hot on the talkback about this today in Sydney. ~20% of kids at Catholic schools in NSW are non-Catholic, and more than half of all Catholic families send their kids to state and other independent schools, which is the trend that is disturbing Cardinal Pell and the Bishops.

    The main concern from existing Catholic-school parents was that by actively encouraging priests to apply rules on how devout the parents were, that already officiously rulebook-quoting priests would be encouraged to be even more officious in refusing to accept medical certificates or the explanation of attending mass in another parish if away to visit relatives etc. One guy’s daughter was a primary school captain and sporting champion whose priest refused to give her a good recommendation so that she would be accepted by the Catholic high school. Why? Because they were away at sporting meets “too often”, even though they made a point of going to Mass wherever they were.

    If officious religiosity is already perceived as a problem that is turning Catholic families away, sometimes very reluctantly, from the existing Catholic schools – well, I hardly see how further emphasising religiosity is likely to reverse existing trends.

  23. says

    Man of Science said: “I work in New Orleans, and religion is very strong in this area. Strangely enough, this area is also saturated with strip clubs and adult novelty shops. Go figure…”

    That’s easy. Good pickings for one scam is good pickings for another.

    As for Cardinal Pell and the like, they have to do something to take attention away from the funny clothes.

  24. Pablo says

    From my 8 years of Catholic school experience, I’d say the biggest thing the church can do to drive away members is to make them go to a devout catholic school.

  25. Kyra says

    Somebody needs to be more specific.

    I highly doubt he’d be happy with the prospect of Isis, Kali, or Tlazoteotl being the beneficiaries of the increased devoutness.

    Oh well. His problem, not mine.

  26. says

    Back in Buffalo, Catholic schools were closing right and left as a result of lack of enrollment. With Buffalo’s high (traditionally) Catholic population, that’s quite a shock, but not totally unexpected. In poverty-ridden Buffalo, who can afford to pay a tuition?

    I tried to enroll my son in a Catholic School years ago, they had accepted him, but he was hospitalized before school started and … well, never got there.

    The whole article bothers me a lot, because it continues the “us vs them” mentality. Instead of focusing on conversion (something you’d think they’d WANT to do) they are focusing on isolationism, girding themselves for war against non-believers and believers of other faiths.

    It’s just a sad statement on Christianity… one of many recently.

  27. Ragnor says

    As BigHeathenMike emphasizes – we must also point when we laugh derisively. Often the target of mockery is too far gone in his delusions to suspect that he could even be the target.

  28. says

    Whenever I hear someone badgering people to be more devout/pious, I think of Taliban beating people with bicycle chains for not praying enough.

  29. tenebrous says

    This is the Pell that demanded that Catholic MPs (Members of Parliament for those not in the know) vote against stem cell research or face the “consequences”. The move backfired on him and several well known Catholic MPs stood up and publicly announced support for the Bill in open defiance.

    I get the feeling that he’s loosing what ever grip he had on reality, quite sad in a way. Most of us only listen to him for a laugh. Rather like that odd Sheik fellow.

  30. Knight of L-sama says

    One things that bugged me a little when reading the comments is lumping all Catholic schools in together. I’m not sure how much influece what Pell (who is indeed an idiot) has on the parish and diocese run schools but there are a decent chunk of Catholic school in Australia that are run by religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, the Marist Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. The Christian Brothers schools at least don’t answer to local church authorities but to their order’s own administrative regions.

    Furthermore Pell’s statements, beyond their utter stupidity, specifically contradict the policy of the Chrisitian Brothers St. Francis Xavier Province which is to make their schools available to everyone regadless of religios affiliation. Even our Masses were conducted in a specifically non-denomenational format to encourage that.

  31. John C. Randolph says

    This seems like a counter-productive policy for a proselytute. Shouldn’t they be trying to get as many non-believing kids as they can into the school, so that they can infest them with superstition?