The Vatican announcement last December that the final hurdle has been cleared for Mary MacKillop's canonisation was generally welcomed with emphasis on the "Second Miracle" appearing in the press.

There is much more than miracles supporting MacKillops claim as the following extracts from George Pellís article in "The Australian":

"She suffered much and was treated very badly on occasions. She was often sick, regularly short of money, excommunicated by one bishop and expelled from Adelaide by another. Some of her nuns opposed her, a division arose between the "Brown Joeys" under her control and the "Black Joeys" controlled by the bishops, and she was wrongly accused of drinking too much brandy.

"Every religious reformer encounters opposition but only saints remain charitable, normal and assiduous in their work despite the disappointments. She prayed and persevered, never lapsed into bitterness and regularly spoke well of her opponents. God blessed her in her troubles and her work prospered.

"By the time of her death in 1909, she had established 109 houses, staffed by 650 sisters teaching 12,400 pupils in 117 schools across Australia and New Zealand.

"Mary was an outstanding leader in a rough and boisterous church, well able to stand her ground charitably and calmly. The Catholic Church had more women in leadership positions as a result of Mary's work and the arrival of other orders of sisters from overseas than today.

"Nearly all Catholic primary schools, the majority of our secondary schools and all Catholic hospitals were then run by women. One of the sad ironies of the past 50 years is that with the arrival of the feminist movement most nuns vacated positions of leadership.

"Mary of the Cross belongs to the whole church and the people inside and outside the church realise what she was. From her letters and her story we know that she supported no dissident theological positions and sought Roman intervention and protection rather than opposing it. It is sad to see small partisan groups trying to enlist her in contemporary squabbles."

It appears that MacKillop stood head and shoulders above her contemporaries, and the question today is: "Does the Catholic Church have anybody capable of facing up to todayís problems?


During the last 100 years, world population has increased from 1.75 billion people to 6.9 billion people. The world has never seen such numbers of Homo -

Sapiens before. This huge increase has been enabled by 1) The improvement in medical services. 2) The use of machinery in agriculture and transport allowing millions to live in a city while being ignorant of farms or fisheries. 3) An understanding of hygiene.

The warnings are everywhere, there are now too many people for the planet to support. The major rivers in each continent has a reduced flow, The world fish catch peaked a decade ago, we are losing top soil, there is less food in the food chain, the need for more housing reduces the availability of agricultural land.

While some predict the possibility of a new "green revolution", there is little sign of it and it would have a hard time starting against the worlds financial troubles.

Nor are these our only troubles:


We all breath out CO2, Cows belch methane, which is 20 times more powerful than CO2. We are trying to increase farm production to feed the increasing population but this will increase greenhouse gases and on top of that we burn immense quantities of fossil fuels causing our observatories to record a continually rising level of these gases now higher than at any time since the last 600,000 years.

While China and India understand well the need to develop green power, and are doing more than most nations in this direction, they are still building more coal powered plants to provide the energy they need and the CO2 we donít.

It is doubtful that we can do anything about the animal and agricultural emissions as it is a part of nature, though we should grow more trees, but we can stop burning coal and oil and rely on solar energy instead. Scientists have shown that we need to have targets of 80% reduction of emissions by 2050 This is an enormous task and one can understand the opposition from industry about such a change. But a part of industry is building greenhouse equipment and realises the need to make changes and reduce emissions.

Skeptics claim that we are cooling rather than warming and claim various improprieties by scientists. They have forgotten that in previous years they were arguing that CO2 level lags the temperature change and that is true, but this can be explained by the fact that when ice melts from a glacier or at Greenland or at Alaska, the melt water is still at zero degrees C. therefore cooling the warm water that melted the ice in the first place. The cold water spreads across the Arctic Ocean and re-freezes as winter approaches. The winds blow and a record snow fall covers North America.. Thus while we still have ice caps we will have dramatic climate changes and be cooler than you might expect.

We should be having an approaching Ice Age but it could be that the sunspot minima we have been experiencing was insufficient to stop the warming due to the additional CO2 and now the sunspots have returned. This indicates the great complexity and variability of climate.

There are many genuine people who doubt the facts produced by scientists, but they should understand that greenhouse gases have been tested in many laboratories and do in fact trap heat, that the rise in CO2 has been measured by many observatories, and that the rise in CO2 matches the rise in coal and oil consumption and the oceans are absorbing about half this CO2, the cause of coral die-off and a threat to other sea life..

Nor should they forget that the oil and coal lobbies are doing everything they can to support doubt, and increase confusion as well as bringing pressure to bear to support new coal burning power stations. But thatís not all!


Of course oil must run out and all the schemes produced by the oil lobby, tar sands and bio fuels etc. have serious disadvantages, so how much oil is left? Ask Google this question and the first 10 answers will average 40 years. But this is deceptive, The fact is that the great majority of oil wells are in decline by 4% pa. This means that in the next 5 years the available supply will be reduced by 20% and that is more than sufficient to cause the biggest financial crash in all time. We need to start building electric cars now to keep more of us mobile and the shops supplied with food to reduce the effects of financial crash.


The fact that the 2008 crash has been controlled should not deceive us. While the banks have been saved there is still much debt. Unemployment in America is officially 10% but the true figure is much greater with lower income groups having 10 times the unemployment of the rich. The position is getting worse, not better and could result in a new crash any time soon.

The fact is that the financial system is rotten, with experts clamoring for higher rates which will cause more debt.

Reform is necessary, We need a system which provides more money for infrastructure at low or zero interest rates. One possible solution is the American Monetary Act <> which any country can easily adapt.

But what is the solution to Overpopulation?

Most western nations have already solved it. Such nations have found that if the population, including girls, are given a comprehensive education, the standard of living will rise and the reproduction rate will fall to below 2%. So what needs to be done is to ensure that everyone in the world gets a good education, but this requires many changes to our economic policies.

3rd world countries will be suspicious of population control but they will agree to any amount of education.

Our trade policies will have to be changed to allow poor countries to develop and spend money on social services.

As Mary MacKillop said "Donít you modern Australians condone and benefit from -

slavery every time you choose to buy cheaper articles imported from countries where you know perfectly well that the workers are paid amounts on which you could not survive?"
(The Real Mary MacKillop)

Western countries will have to forgive more debt (Haiti still has debt in spite of the much vaunted reductions). We will also have to give the UN a much higher percentage than the 0.7% of GDP recommended (during the last decade we only parted with about half this amount)

What about the Catholic Churchís objections?

A comprehensive education includes family planning and a knowledge of sex, while Australian Catholics agree that their children be properly educated, the Vatican still holds to ideas 2000 years old.

200 years ago your great great (great?) Grand mother on average could have had 6 - 10 babies. Two of them would have died in child birth, 4 or 5 of them would have died before the age of five from childhood diseases, so there was no population explosion as only 2 were left to carry on the family. You could say that this state of affairs was ordained by God or Gaia.

It is evident that the world has entirely changed during the last 200 years but the Vatican has not. The facts I have outlined about overpopulation, global warming, Peak Oil and financial crash indicate an approaching extreme tragedy which means that we must all change or die.

The Islamic religion may be more difficult but recent speakers for womenís rights including Layla Al Ali, a secular activist of womenís rights in Lebanon who lives in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, indicates that even this religion will change.

The ordinary man and woman understand and agree that the situation is really serious but we do not have much effect on big business, nor on politicians, nor on the church. For the ordinary person, Humanists and scientists to have a real effect, we must first convince the church. The church has the power to influence business people, financiers and the coal and oil lobby.

There are a few churchmen who do speak out including Bishop Tutu who is rightly concerned about the lack of rainfall in Africa. Several hundred bells rang out in UK last year as a warning, but these do not affect the Vatican.

We should all approach church people and through them ask the Vatican what does stewardship mean in the dire situation we are in? And what would Jesus of Nazareth say? Or Mary MacKillop?

Dick Clifford

Vice President

Humanist Society of South Australia

Insert to SA Humanist Post March 2010


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