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Australia and the Popes

Significant events in Australia's history
during the reign of Pope John XXIII, 1958-1963

The general cultural and political changes that marked Western society in the 1960s were echoed in Australia — and those influences undoubtedly helped shape the outlook of Catholics in Australia as well as the wider community. (See, for example, the Wikipedia pages on "The 1960s"). In this history we are particularly interested in what was going on within Catholicism in Australia.

Three significant developments:

The era of Catholicism in Australia during the pontificate of Pope John XXIII was marked by three significant developments.

  • In the wider sphere this period continued to be marked by the massive post-WWII immigration fostered by the Federal government. This began to influence not only the demographic make-up of the nation but the demographic character of the Church in Australia. The almost homogenous Irish-Catholic nature of the Church began to be replaced with a far more multi-cultural face.

  • Within the established Church the patient work of religious orders and lay apostolates during the previous half century, which had been steadily lifting Catholics into the political, economic and cultural mainstreams of Australia had begun to lead to steadily greater agitation for equal rights for Catholics in the allocation of government funding for education. Various parents' organisations were established in the States and had formed a more coherent national voice through the Australian Parents Council. The work of B.A. Santmaria and his movement had led to the split in the Australian Labor Party and the establishment of the Democratic Labor Party which, although far from successful in its aims of seeking to replace the ALP as the second major political party in this nation, was successful in exerting various kinds of pressure on the ruling liberal-conservative coalition government of the time, led by Sir Robert Menzies, to increase funding to Catholic and other non-government schools.

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The textual material on these pages was sourced from a large number of places all of which can be found through the links on each page. The material was researched, assembled and produced by Brian Coyne for Catholic Australia. The images used in the Flash animations are in the public domain. Other images used are in the public domain or sourced from the webpages to which they are linked.


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