Review of Gerard Henderson, Santamaria. A Most Unusual Man, The Miegunyah Press, South Carlton, 2015, The Australasian Catholic Record, Vol. 93, No. 4, October 2016, pp. 498-507.
Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man, Gerard Henderson’s biography of Bartholomew Augustus Santamaria (1915-1998) is well researched, controversial, and insightful. The first book-length biography of Santamaria, the subtitle A Most Unusual Man immediately suggests that the work is no hagiography. Reputations are appraised, criticised, and damaged in a well-argued work. The book is an extended essay on the issues and challenges associated with being a believing, politically active Catholic in the modern world, particularly in Australia in the period from the mid-1930s to the late 1990s, coinciding with the rise and wane of the influence of Catholicism in Australian public life.
Santamaria, known as ‘Bob’, ‘BAS’, or as ‘Santa’ to his friends, was once Australia’s leading Catholic layman. Active in student societies at Melbourne University (the Newman Society and the Radical Club among them); an acolyte to the early leaders of the Campion Society in Melbourne from 1935; editor of the Catholic Worker in 1936; deputy head (1938–45), later head (1945–56) of the Australian National Secretariat for Catholic Action (ANSCA); head (1941 to February 1956) of the Catholic Social Studies Movement (‘the Movement’); President and leader of the National Civic Council, the NCC (1957 to 1998), Santamaria played various critical roles in the formulation of Catholic policy and action concerning lay and clerical involvement in public affairs, including roles in the fight from the early 1940s against communism and communist influence in the Australian trade union movement and, within the ALP, in the ALP Split from 1954 to 1957, and in the battle to defend and promote orthodox Catholicism from the 1960s onwards.
Handsomely published by Miegunyah Press, an imprint of Melbourne University Press, and nicely illustrated, the author shows deserved confidence in discussing contemporary historical events and displays deep appreciation of source material, including his researches when working in the direct employ of Santamaria between 1965 and 1975.
As one of Santamaria’s supporters, later an informed critic, Henderson is still attached to some of the myths of the fierce internecine positions adopted by many Victorian church and lay intellectuals in the 1950s and onwards.
One aspect of that is the Melbourne NCC orthodoxy that the Sydney hierarchy, most of the NSW Movement leadership and the moderates at the helm of the NSW ALP were weak and appeasing to the forces of the Left, who seized control of the Victorian ALP (from 1955) and the Queensland ALP (from 1957) and the ALP elsewhere across the country, including Western Australia and even pockets of New South Wales — including Sydney’s so-called ‘red belt’ in the Sutherland Shire, dominated by eventual Labor Senator (from 1970 to 1989) and communist sympathiser, Arthur Gietzelt (1920–2014).
Thus sweeping, partisan-charged statements are made that ‘The Sydney clergy did not particularly like lay Catholics’, Sydney Bishop (from 24 February 1954), Archbishop (from 1965) James Carroll (1908-1995) is dismissed as a ‘Labor barracker’, and during the ALP Split, Carroll’s considered policy of restraint is dismissed in one phrase: ‘Essentially, Carroll was all about doing nothing’.
Despite such attachments to old positions, Henderson mostly shrewdly assesses the complex positions adopted by various antagonists and erstwhile allies. In doing so, he builds on the achievements of his book (and earlier PhD research), Santamaria and the Bishops (1982), an eye-opening assessment of the tensions, splits, and controversies within the Catholic hierarchy, many of which predated the split in the ALP in the mid-1950s.
In the early days of Catholic Action in Australia, there were disagreements on lay versus hierarchical leadership, with the Sydney line particularly strong for the position of priestly leadership and chaplaincy. Henderson, both in this and in his earlier work, shows that Santamaria was challenged from the start, but particularly from 1953 onwards, within the church on the appropriate priorities for and management of Catholic Action.
ANSCA was set up following a synod of bishops in 1937 with affiliated bodies covering rural, student, women, and young Christian worker organisations. In the early 1930s many young Catholics in Australia were inspired by the Belgian priest-intellectual Joseph, later Cardinal, Cardijn (1882-1967), who, influenced by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum and his own experiences, founded the Young Christian Workers movement. Cardijn’s maxim was to ‘see, judge, act’. Kevin Kelly (1910-1994), Frank Maher (1905-1994) and other Australian Catholic intellectuals, including Santamaria, were influenced by the need to bring social justice to the workplace and the desirability of evangelising for the faith.
Some of their critique entailed hostility to unfettered capitalism, support for trade unions, and hostility to forces seeking to extinguish the church. Hence there was sympathy for the labour movement and opposition to communism and to left extremist movements including, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the church burners, the murderers and assassins of members of the religious orders.
Santamaria was one of those who emotionally proclaimed ‘Christ the King!’ in a famous debate at Melbourne University on 22 March 1937 on the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that raised many moral qualms and issues for Catholics, especially as Franco’s Falangists were hardly dewy-eyed champions of decency and civil rights. In Santamaria, the realism that needed to be attached to an assessment of Franco was matched with a desire to courageously stand up, in martyrdom if necessary, for the de fide doctrines of the church.
By the mid-1940s, the sweep of influence and threat of communism in Australia was an insidious threat and the Movement dedicated itself to appealing to, training, and organising lay people to become active in their unions with the aim of destroying communist power. Such efforts coincided with the formation of the ALP Industrial Groups, set up initially in the early 1940s in New South Wales and Victoria, to provide official ALP support for unionists trying to win control off communist leadership. In its origin, the active involvement of the Movement in ALP and union affairs was a reaction to a desperate plea. The church did not seek to doorknock itself into the Labor Party; in fact, the moderate leaders in key unions and in the parliamentary party doorknocked the church, requesting assistance in defeating a common enemy. The leadership of the Labor Council of NSW and key unions in Victoria, including initially the Victorian Trades Hall Council, were alarmed by the successes of the far Left. By 1945 there were 20,000 Communist Party of Australia (CPA) members in Australia. Their influence within most of the major unions was strong, with the waterside workers, mining, iron, metal, building, and other unions under their control. Together with their allies they constituted a majority of the delegates to the ACTU Congress in that year.
The Groups included ALP members and supporters of all denominations and none, and were actively assisted by the Movement. The latter were funded and organised by the church, with the Movement increasingly focused on the anti-communist fight. In many ways the Movement was the driving force in the Groups, although not always dominant in every union.
The tiny band of Movement activists built a mass movement that by 1953, with the vanquishing of communists from most of the major unions, had been extremely successful. Right down the eastern seaboard, moderate ALP types, many influenced by Catholic social thinking, dominated the ALP. The question was what to do next with an active, successful organisation. Debate centred on whether to utilise their position in the labour movement or to return to basics — to Catholic Action, as bringing the spirit of Christ into all human activity, interpreted in the pious sense of self-improvement and saving souls through prayer and reflection, and through practical good works. His critics saw Santamaria as consumed by politics, intrigue, plotting. How could he fail to see that what was important was something else entirely? Henderson, however, argues that what Catholic Action meant had varying definitions and implications. Therein lay the seeds for division and conflict.
Key leaders of the Movement wanted to place ‘their’ people at the heads of as many unions as possible, including those, like the Australian Workers Union, who had been traditionally led by non- and anti-communist leadership, often of no particular distinction.
Not mentioned in the book is that in Sydney this relentless organisation to conquer as many unions as possible for the ‘ticket’ endorsed by the Industrial Group leadership and rubber-stamped by Movement headquarters led to a considerable fraying of support for the Groups.
One reason why Santamaria’s leaked ‘movement of ideas’ speech of 1954 was so significant is that it sets out his thinking on the next phase of fighting for control of Australian Labor. In view of subsequent events, including support for colleagues ostracised from the ALP after the Split and their strident opposition to the Left, it is extraordinary and indicative of sectarian passion that Santa warned his supporters about the potential unreliability of the non-Catholic Labor union men Lloyd Ross, of the Railways Union, and Laurie Short, who had courageously broken communist control of the Iron Workers Union. Another person criticised in Santa’s speech was J. D. Keenahan, the recently resigned President of the NSW Industrial Groups and leader of the Rubber Workers Union, who in 1953 ran for President of the Labor Council of NSW with Lloyd Ross’s support. Keenahan was deeply concerned that Movement/Group organisation had got out of hand.
So no wonder within the church there was apprehension about what to do with an organisation that was supposedly above the partisan, political fray yet directed by an out-of-control ‘lay bishop’ in the form of Santamaria.
Not only was Sydney troubled, Archbishop Simonds (1890-1967), who had studied at the Catholic University of Louvain and knew Cardijn and who was slated to replace Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1864-1963) in Melbourne, and did so in 1963, abhorred the contamination of party politics in the work of the church. While, however, the immediate challenge was saving Australia from communism, such qualms were put to one side.
But the ALP Split of 1954-55 brought all this to a head.
Henderson argues that Santamaria never understood ALP culture, mores, its sentimentality (such as, one might note, the quaint self-indulgent tenderness in the phrase ‘the unity of Labor is the hope of the world’), and its character as a coalition. The venom of the attacks on Ben Chifley in the early 1950s in the Movement publication Freedom, later renamed Newsweekly after the ALP Split, antagonised Labor people.
Henderson convincingly shows that Santa was lukewarm about Labor winning under Dr Evatt in 1954, as he dreamed of fresh faces, his people entering the Labor ranks in the elections to follow, committed to a Christian agenda. In fervorino he wrote to Mannix of the potential to reshape Australia. There was an impatience, a sense of crisis, to get somewhere — a characteristic of Santa that could sometimes turn impulsive and stubborn-headed.
A combination of self-righteousness, lack of regard for the ethos of the labour movement, and arrogance in treating certain opponents (who were by no means fellow travellers) meant that resentments built up. Sometimes this was because many of the unionists the Movement sponsored and brought to office were young, seeking to jostle aside older men in the leadership of organisations. Some of the latter felt threatened.
Ultimately, Santamaria and the Movement leaders were outclassed by a ramshackle coalition that combined for self-preservation and distrust of the Groups and the Movement. That Dr Evatt, the ALP Leader, was paranoid, unhinged, and tactically wily meant that what began as a cranky speech in October 1954 by a recently defeated Leader of the Opposition accusing certain Movement leaders as being ‘disloyal’ morphed into a full-scale split of the ALP. Aiming at Santamaria, Evatt said a ‘small minority of members, located particularly in the State of Victoria’, had undermined him. He directed that the Federal Executive reconstitute the Victorian Executive, sacking office-holders in November 1954 until a new conference could be convened.
A huge strategic mistake occurred in February 1955 by the Movement forces boycotting the Victorian ALP conference, which was reconstituted by the ALP national executive to select a new slate of delegates to the national conference in Hobart in March 1955. Yet there was still the possibility of winning some or many of the positions at that conference.
Fed by hubris and youthful bravado, the Victorian Movement leaders decided to resist federal intervention and insist that the old executive, which had already elected delegates to the national conference, was the legitimate leadership of Victorian Labor. They thought they could call Dr Evatt’s bluff.
As a consequence, the Victorian Groups split with prominent non-Catholic, anti-communist allies like former ACTU President Percy Clarey (1890-1960), Victorian ALP Secretary Denis ‘Dinny’ Lovegrove (1904-1979), and many others breaking with their erstwhile allies. They saw the Movement in new terms — as factional extremists. Vic Stout (1885-1964), the Victorian Trades Hall Secretary had already had enough of the Groups and their Movement backers. Anti-Catholic bias might have been a factor in his thinking, notwithstanding his support a decade earlier for forming the Groups.
Distrustful to varying degrees of the communist-influenced Left and Dr Evatt, many of these people felt the Movement leaders had become a destructive influence. Bitterness and factional blood-letting ensued with expulsion and resignations across the Victorian ALP in 1955.
Personality, arguably even more than ideological fervour, contributed mightily to the impending disaster. Different individuals might have handled matters with maturity and a greater instinct for potential consequences. Santa was one of the hotheads.
At the national ALP conference in Hobart in March 1955, the ‘new’ Victorian delegation was seated with right-wing delegates from other states narrowly failing on important resolutions (including the new Victorian delegates’ credentialling). By a narrow majority, the ALP Industrial Groups across the nation in every union, including the remaining communist ones, were formally disbanded by the conference. The presence of one, two, or more moderate Victorians could have made all the difference. The New South Wales delegates supported to the tee the old Victorian executive. They knew that after Victoria Dr Evatt’s forces would be coming for them. In 1955 the Victorians formed the Australian Labor Party (anti-communist), a snap state election was called, and a number of MPs and candidates ran under their banner, but only one was elected. The Cain ALP government was defeated at the polls with the anti-communist Labor Group preferencing conservative candidates ahead of Labor.
The consequences of the Split both for the church and for the ALP were disastrous. Families and friends were divided, sometimes acrimoniously. Scandalous sermons denouncing the ALP from the pulpit drove devout Labor-supporting Catholics like MP and future Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell, in Melbourne, and Joe Riordan, a future Whitlam minister, in Sydney, to seek succour in other parishes.
In the Sydney Diocese, the Movement was under strong episcopal control, with Cardinal Gilroy and Bishop Carroll of the view that the Movement experiment could now blow up in their face. In 1956 Movement supporters were summoned to a mass meeting at St Paul’s, Kensington, in Sydney, to be told by the Movement leaders that the cardinal’s wish was that they stay and fight within the ALP. In contrast, Bishop Francis Fox (1904-1997) in Melbourne publicly queried whether voting Labor was a mortal sin. Archbishop Mannix in a famous intervention before the 1958 federal election issued a press release saying that every communist and every communist sympathiser in Australia hoped for a victory for the Evatt Labor Party.
In Queensland in 1957 an unrelated split on industrial relations issues spun out of control with Movement supporters targeted for expulsion by a triumphalist Left. Premier Gair was expelled, his breakaway Queensland Labor Party formed. Ultimately the Victorian, Queensland, Tasmanian, and other rebels united to form the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), which promised to preference the ALP last (or near last where there was a communist or other extremist candidate.) In Victoria and Queensland most Catholics left the Labor Party, either ceasing to be active or defecting to the DLP. In contrast, in New South Wales most stayed with the ALP.
In late 1954, with Evatt’s initial attack igniting tensions, worse lay ahead. Bishop Carroll, as always acting with the imprimatur of his archbishop, Cardinal Gilroy, attempted to wrest control of the Movement. As Henderson recounts, in November that year Carroll wrote a ‘Dear Bob’ letter that pleaded for calm in the crisis:
I take for granted that you are well aware of the various complaints, dissatisfactions, fears and anxieties felt by many people of standing, ecclesiastical and lay, which cannot reasonably be ignored. In that case the primary aim of the Organisation [i.e., the Movement] should be to establish confidence by a calm, dignified, intelligent and subtle approach to current problems. This is not to yield principles nor adopt a negative approach. On the contrary it is probable that greater skill and character are required to act consistently with subtlety and restraint than to engage in ‘muscular’ Christianity.
Santamaria’s ‘muscular’ approach to the unfolding crisis was temperamentally unsuited to the challenge. Carroll favoured dissolving the Movement as hopelessly contaminated by a wrong application of Catholic Action theory. But it would be wrong to characterise this outlook as that of a theological boffin versus a robust view of being a ‘doer’.
In 1956 the Paulian Association was set up in Sydney, Adelaide, and across Australia as one kind of successor organisation to the early forms of Catholic Action.
A case could be made that in the period prior to the ALP Split Santamaria was one of the foremost characters in the Movement, with John Maynes, the Clerks’ Union National President and full-time industrial officer of the Movement, then from 1957 of the NCC, and some of the other political leaders also extremely important. With the ALP Split, Santamaria, as intellectual leader, propagandist, and drawcard fundraiser came into his own. He became the indispensable man. His role in fashioning a response to, and then leading supportive church figures on, the quasi-theological dispute as to the standing of remnants of the Movement was ingenious.
Cardinal Gilroy referred to the Vatican the issue as to whether the Movement and successor bodies Santamaria was trying to set up could continue to operate free of episcopal control. The church was badly divided, with different bishops, priests, and lay people taking different sides — ‘one church two strategies’, as Henderson says. The Vatican in a series of decisions and clarifications found in favour of Sydney’s position. But Santamaria deftly argued that the decisions allowed a purely lay organisation to be formed, which he said was what had always been what he wanted. In saying so, Santamaria was being disingenuous. For, as Henderson points out, when it suited him, Santa invoked the full authority of his patron, Archbishop Mannix, but from 1955 onwards, with everything at risk and the Sydney Catholic hierarchy implacably opposed to him, Santamaria argued for the merit of autonomous lay control.
Not mentioned in Henderson’s book is the chapter on ‘The Priest in Catholic Action’ in Studies in Catholic Action (1948), a book of articles and summations on related topics compiled by ANSCA. This was but one example of a muddle in determining the roles that priests and laity should exercise in leading Catholic Action. There was always ambiguity in the character of religious organisations carried out in the name of the church, as Henderson convincingly outlines.
A lamentable consequence of the splits in the church and of Catholics with the ALP was a gradual collapse of active, lay Catholic activity. The DLP elements and the NCC came to be increasingly a force negative and hostile to the ALP.
Undoubtedly with the restoration of communist influence in many unions and, particularly in Victoria the ALP becoming unrepresentative of its supporters and stridently socialist Left for a period, hostility to what the ALP had become drove the expelled, exiled, and traduced elements of the old ALP Catholic Right to the DLP in many states. Moderate Catholic ALP candidates, where selected, however, also felt the lash of being preferenced below the Liberals, a source of more bitterness.
The DLP kept Labor out of office nationally until Whitlam’s election in 1972. All five DLP senators, however, were defeated in the 1974 double dissolution election.
Santamaria himself grew more interested in the culture wars — including the promotion of conservative Catholic ideas through such publications as the journal AD 2000, the formation of the Australian Family Association, and concentration on issues associated with bioethics, abortion, and euthanasia — and less obsessed with union organisation. In 1982 the NCC split with most of its union supporters (principally some officers in the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Union [SDA] and the Federated Clerks’ Union [FCU]) moving to the Social Action breakaway, which eventually itself faded away by the end of the 1990s. Henderson’s assessment of how this happened — the union leaders were driven out by Santa — begs the question of whether Santa was the ultimate splitter, incapable of ever leading or participating in a coalition unless he was completely in control.
In the union movement, a rapprochement by the more conservative unions with Labor occurred at first under Hawke’s leadership of the ACTU and then as Prime Minister, from 1983, leading to the affiliation back to the ALP in 1985 of four Catholic-influenced unions in Victoria and some other states, who had quit during the Split. But Santamaria appeared indifferent to and disengaged from those moves. (The same unions, interestingly, in New South Wales stayed with the ALP throughout).
The NCC’s influence in unions died off by the first decade of the twenty-first century. The organisation is a shadow of its former self with minor influence and few staff. Newsweekly is now an online journal. Money, recruitment, and organisational coherence dissipated after Santamaria’s death with various further splits in the organisation.
Yet it would be a mistake to say the impact of Santamaria ended up as something negligible. He had a huge impact on the local church, particularly across Victoria, Wagga Wagga, and other places. When it mattered, he helped articulate a critique of totalitarian communism when many Labor people were being duped or fellow-travelling. The development of public policy in favour of funding denominational including Catholic schools by the Commonwealth, along with campaigns sponsored and articulated by his nemesis in Sydney, Archbishop Carroll, changed Australian education forever. Santa deserves some of the credit. His ‘Point of View’ Sunday morning broadcasts on Channel 9 from 1963, and his regular column in the Australian newspaper from the 1980s reached wide audiences, though, it must be said, he grew quirky and increasingly reactionary. His organisation profoundly impacted on public life and political culture and, in his attempt to translate Catholic traditional thinking to modern circumstances, he was often inventive and radical.
Henderson’s previous book, Santamaria and the Bishops, and more recent writings by non-Catholic Labor intellectual, former Principal Private Secretary to Gough Whitlam, and former MP, Race Mathew — including his Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society (1999) — are reminders of the consistency (of Catholic and Labor thinking), innovation, and attractive creativity of what many Movement supporters and allies were writing about in the late 1940s and 1950s. One Movement-aligned publication, Twentieth Century, was arguably the most interesting journal of opinion canvassing public policy in that period in Australia.
Certainly, however, with the ALP Split, sadly, Catholic social theory was marginalised in the development of ALP policy.
Minor errors in Henderson’s book include the reference to Catholic intellectual Frank Maher (born in 1905, not 1910; died aged 89, not 88); it was Peter Maurin (not Moulin) who was number two to Dorothy Day in the Catholic Worker Movement in the United States; book reviewer Vicki Dunne, née Scarrabelotti, was no pseudonym of Santa’s (she is now a Liberal MP and the Speaker in the ACT Assembly); Denys (not Denis) Jackson was one of the founders of the Campion Society; Peter Drucker, the émigré management theorist relocated to the United States, was born in Austria, not Germany; Gillespie is a Scottish surname, not a non Anglo-Celtic one.
One wishes for more on some matters. For example, just how original were some of Santamaria’s positions? It seems that Santamaria’s The Earth Our Mother (1945), written during his period as head of the National Catholic Rural Movement, owes something to the thinking of the Englishman Montague Fordham (1864–1948), who expressed in various publications beginning with Mother Earth: A Proposal for the Permanent Reconstruction of Our Country Life (1908) a recipe for rural organisation including autarky in food production, while also highlighting the dangers of soil erosion caused by certain agriculture practices.
There are a number of interesting vignettes told in the book about many key issues and characters including Kelly, Maher, and others. Henderson describes Catholic Action as a much delayed reaction to the de-Christianising of Europe post the French Revolution. In describing Archbishop Mannix, Henderson sees him as moving from a Castle Catholic in pre-independence Ireland to a national leader in Australia. This is one of the strengths of the book — the application of vast learning and judgment to the subject and his times. In hoping for ‘more’ one might confidently assume — based on this publication — that there are a few other books in Henderson yet.
Henderson notes ‘the German sociologist Max Weber identified over a century ago: successful democratic politics requires slow boring through hard boards. BAS was not the slow-boring type, and he did not understand the hardness of some boards’. We still live with the consequences of that. Perhaps the greatest element of tragedy in a mind as interesting and as charismatic as Santamaria’s is that this brilliant polemicist and loyal, practising Catholic, curious about ideas and their application, frustrated the realisation of Catholic principles and their understanding across Australian public life. In the 1940s he changed Australia in organising against communism. But he overreached and arrogantly gambled on his superior judgment as the church and the ALP separately split. There was a lot that was unfair, good men and women lost their careers, but an apocalyptic mind, an excited disposition, and actions that followed from that were amongst his unique contributions.
I emailed this article to Gerard Henderson, thinking that he would see this as a friendly review.
I have stated in a number of places my admiration for Henderson’s scholarship and insights on the Movement, Catholic Action, and the political events associated with the Labor splits in the mid-1950s.
Unfortunately, a cranky correspondence from him followed.
Gerard thought I was in error in defending Archbishop Carroll and that I had misconstrued some of the Sydney versus Melbourne issues.
He reacted with disbelief to my telling the story about Calwell and Riordan being berated from the pulpit and he thought I was too harsh, in his view undeservedly critical, of Bishop Fox.
Plus he thought the reference to a few errors in his book was inappropriate and something unworthy of publication in a review. And that I had made minor mistakes of my own. No doubt, I could have done better.
I thought it best to thoroughly investigate his charges. I asked Mary Calwell permission to inspect her father’s papers in the National Library; and she wrote back granting that.
One day in Canberra I filled out the forms to collect the folders that might be of interest. A trolley with three and a half feet of boxes arrived. I thought after a cursory glance, that I would need a week to thoroughly investigate. That is, a week I did not have at this moment.
So there the matter rests until I find the time.
No matter the date shown on the journal, there are considerable delays (years, sometimes) in the publication of issues of The Australasian Catholic Record. I only recently came across Henderson’s reply to my review: Gerard Henderson, ‘More Pluralist than Thou: How Archbishop Mannix Tolerated Greater Political Disagreement than Cardinal Gilroy’, The Australasian Catholic Record, Vol. 94, Issue 3, July 2017, pp. 324-9.
Henderson refers to the fallibility of memory, the problems with, the weak authority and frequent unreliability of, hearsay “evidence”, especially after a considerable lapse of years, as one problem with my claims about Calwell, Riordan, and troublesome clerics. He claims no one I referenced said that voting for the ALP was a mortal sin. And he argues that the Melbourne Catholic hierarchy was far more tolerant of dissent than Sydney’s.
After referring to then Bishop Carroll’s advice to lay Catholics in NSW during the ALP Split in the 1950s that it was the Cardinal’s wish that adherents stay and fight within the ALP, rather than leave, Henderson summarises: “In other words, the Sydney hierarchy directed Catholics, who were Labor Party members or supporters, to stay loyal to the ALP (my emphasis).” The word “directed” is too strong. Henderson also says, in a variation of the phrase, that “both Cardinal Gilroy and Bishop Carroll instructed the Catholic clergy and laity alike to remain loyal to the ALP and not to back either Santamaria’s Movement or the DLP (my emphasis).” And he says Movement supporters were ordered to “close the office he [Santamaria] set up in Sydney to sell his journal News Weekly.”
But after the National Civic Council was set up in 1957, News Weekly and NCCers were active in the unions, and various political parties, particularly the DLP in NSW. It was just that the Sydney hierarchy did not want them proselytising on Church premises, as if they spoke for the Church.
Reading Henderson made me wish I had the time to look at the Calwell papers at the National Library and the Santamaria papers at the State Library of Victoria (for his Bishop Fox files) – and prove one way or the other what I understood to be true. At a time of Covid 19, unfortunately, access is limited, as is my spare time.