Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/277

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263
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

growth of the Church in the colonies, and in summarising the ecclesiastical history of the Australasian dominion, one cannot help being struck by the extraordinary rapidity with which the complete organisation of to-day has been evolved from the small and unpromising beginnings of half-a-century ago. The now flourishing condition of the Australian Church affords another signal illustration of the utter futility of trying to impede the growth of Catholicity in young countries. An unworthy policy of that sort may have a little temporary success, but the eventual triumph must always rest with the Church. The failure that attended the efforts of the early Australian governors to make Anglicanism the State Church in the colonies, as in the mother country, is now regarded with openly expressed satisfaction by colonists of all classes and creeds. An established religion in these free, self-governed democratic communities would not be tolerated for an instant, and the principle that every denomination stands on a perfect equality from a State standpoint, receives full recognition throughout the whole of Australasia. In such a fair and open field the Catholic Church can always advance by leaps and bounds, as the wonderful strides it has made in the colonies during recent years abundantly testify. Well and truly did the Bishops of Australasia, assembled in Plenary Council for the first time in Sydney, at the close of 1885, under the presidency of Cardinal Moran, refer to the present and the past in their joint Pastoral Letter in these mingled terms of pride and pathos:

"The prevalent impression on our minds during these days of our council is one of intense thankfulness to God, who has so blessed the mustard seed of the faith in the Church of Australasia. At a date so recent as to be quite within the lifetime of men still moving amongst us, there was not one priest, or one single altar, in all these southern lands. It is not simply that the ministration