The Catholic Imagination of Christopher Koch

I was looking for a cover of a novel by an Australian Catholic for the banner of a new FB group page THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC WRITERS’ FORUM (to be developed). I had a few of Christopher Koch’s novels on hand and chose Highways to a War, the 1996 Miles Franklin Award winner. I then looked around for some information about the now (almost) forgotten Christopher Koch and found this inspiring article by Karl Schmude.

Christopher Koch: A novelist for an age with no answers

Karl Schmude

The Catholic imagination of Christopher Koch, the Australian novelist most remembered for The Year of Living Dangerously (1978), was shaped by two intense experiences.

The first was his childhood immersion in the popular Catholic culture in Australia in the first half of the 20th century. Abounding in hints of supernatural mystery and memory, it showed the power of earthly symbols and cultural ritual to evoke timeless realities.

The other was his upbringing in Tasmania, the Alaska of Australia, an island state nearer to Antarctica than the northern Australian mainland. This sense of remoteness sharpened his appreciation of the cultural centre. It embraced not only the traditions of his modern Australian homeland but also the deeper Christian heritage of historical Europe.

Both these experiences, religious and cultural, supplied the background to his eight novels. His Catholic insights enlivened his depiction of human character, especially the dualities of nature and identity that comprise a flawed being who was yet made in the image of God and destined for eternal life. His Tasmanian childhood, meanwhile, nurtured a sense of cultural isolation and the perspective of separation. Tasmania was for Koch a metaphor for Australia – its people, as he wrote, “marooned in the southern hemisphere”. Yet this experience held a wider meaning in a Western culture that was itself religiously marooned, embroiled as it became in his lifetime in uprooting its religious and cultural traditions.

Read the rest here…

The Pell case: Who’s running scared?

In his Spectator article, The sinister Vatican plot against Cardinal Pell, Damian Thompson writes that he and others have always suspected Cardinal Pell’s enemies in the Vatican had something to do with the cardinal’s conviction. Even so, he did not expect a Vatican cardinal to provide evidence to support those suspicions.

He relates, as others have done (see previous posts), the fall of Cardinal Becciu because of delinquency with Vatican funds, highlighting the mysterious transfer of A$1.1 million to an Australian account around the time Cardinal Pell was running the gauntlet of Victoria’s degraded criminal justice system. In the final paragraphs of his article, he raises some interesting points about where to from here. He says the public may learn more about Cardinal Pell’s ‘solitary accuser’. ‘God only knows,’ he adds, ‘what will happen then.’ If I’m right about the choirboy, some journalists will at this moment be running scared. They will be lucky to come off with no more than mere humiliation.

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Make no mistake about it: for the army of professional Pell-haters in the Australian media, the allegation that corrupt officials may have opened the Vatican’s coffers in order to ‘help’ the prosecution is more humiliating than even the cardinal’s acquittal. If Perlasca is indeed suggesting that, then at the very least they have been unwittingly manipulated by a gang of rancid old crooks.

I say ‘at the very least’, because for some time I’ve suspected that one or more anti-Pell journalists, very probably not Australian, liaised between the Vatican and Victoria. If so, this bean-spilling season in Rome must be torture for them.

And the season is just beginning, I think. On my Holy Smoke podcast last week, I interviewed CNA’s Dr Ed Condon, the canon lawyer-turned-reporter who has done more than any other English-speaking journalist to expose what he calls Becciu’s ‘byzantine’ financial dealings. I hope you’ll listen to it, because you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Vatican ‘experts’ prepared to do some digging that might embarrass Pope Francis.

And in Australia, what passes for news about the Church is even more grotesquely unreliable. Sooner rather than later, we may learn more about what that Vatican money was used for during the Pell trial. And I think it’s inevitable that, despite reporting restrictions, we shall discover more about the cardinal’s solitary accuser. God only knows what will happen then.

The best liars are the most convincing liars

‘The High Court decision did not repudiate the former choirboy, with both Cardinal Pell’s senior counsel, Bret Walker, SC, and Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, QC, agreeing in their submissions to the court that he was a credible, believable witness.’

These are words from a (5 Oct) report by Adam Cooper of Melbourne’s Age newspaper whose delirious anti-Catholic bigotry tops all others.

There are two obvious points to make about Cooper’s claim.

The first is a question of logic. It does not follow that because Bret Walker, SC, and Kerri Judd, QC, agreed that the choirboy was a ‘credible, believable witness’ that the choirboy was not lying. Cooper evidently does not see it.

Nor does it follow from this mutual agreement that the ‘High Court did not repudiate the former choirboy.’ Both assertions or premises are unconnected. This is another example of the sloppy reasoning in a hostile media that runs through all the reporting on the Pell case. Indeed, tight logical reasoning is not a priority of most Age reporters who have their political prejudices to promote.

The reasonable judgment is that because the High Court Justices did roundly uphold Cardinal Pell’s appeal 7-nil, they did in fact repudiate the former choirboy. Indeed, we can take it that behind their hands they laughed the preposterous Crown case out of court, and the choirboy with it.

Second, Cooper’s pathetic attempt, like many others, to discredit, or even nullify, the High Court decision in the minds of the public, actually works against the conclusion he wants. The more he emphasizes the ‘credibility’ of the choirboy in the face of the overwhelming evidence against his uncorroborated accusation, and in the face of the many harsh expert commentaries about the case and Victoria’s legal system around the world, the more the picture of a cunning conniving liar appears.

The best liars are the most convincing liars. Con men succeed because of their talent at projecting a trustworthy appearance. The choirboy is an outstanding liar with a proficiency and daring one cannot help finding impressive.

The problem for the choirboy is that the more outrageous the lie, the more vulnerable the liar is, and the higher the stakes become. There is a good reason he is lying low behind the protection of the Andrews’ government, and the cohort of bigots at the ABC, the Guardian, the Nine newspapers, and a dozen other struggling leftist rags.

With the news of possible bribery by Cardinal Pell’s enemies in the Vatican, our accomplished liar must now have the feeling his preposterous creation is beginning to close in on him. Nothing is surer than that in time the curtain will be drawn away to reveal who and what he really is, and what his motivations were. If I was him, I would start thinking about ways to minimize the eventual damage.

Vatican money to destroy Cardinal Pell – The story so far

The following details are from media reports this last week:

National Catholic Register 29 September 2020

An important, but not the primary, consequence of the stunning sacking of Cardinal Angelo Becciu is that it completes on the Vatican side what was accomplished by the Australian High Court in April, namely the complete vindication of Cardinal George Pell.

As Cardinal Pell arrives in Rome this week after three years in Australia, the counterpoint between the cardinal’s return and Cardinal Becciu’s fall is worthy of a novel.

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances … and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments,” Cardinal Pell stated in reference to his brother cardinal’s dismissal. “I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria [Australia].”

LifeSiteNews 3 October 2020

According to Corriere della Sera, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, who worked with Becciu in the Secretariat of State, started cooperating with Vatican investigators looking into financial misconduct within the Holy See’s institutions.

Perlasca argued, the newspaper wrote, that “Becciu has used some journalists and other sources to discredit his enemies in recent years.”

“And it is precisely in this vein that the payment in Australia would have been made, possibly in connection with Pell’s trial,” Corriere della Sera commented.

The Australian 5 October 2020

The saga of Vatican financial corruption took an extraordinary turn last night, when Italian ­newspaper Il Messaggero quoted the former right-hand man to ­disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu claiming a bank transfer of 700,000 euros was made from the Vatican to a bank in Australia.

The article quotes Monsignor Alberto Perlasca as claiming the transfer was made at the same time that the child-abuse case against Cardinal George Pell was developing in Australia.

Monsignor Perlasca worked closely with Cardinal Becciu when the latter was second in charge at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The Australian 5 October 2020

A senior Catholic cardinal has been accused of using €700,000 ($1.14m) of Vatican funds to bribe witnesses to secure a sex abuse conviction against a rival.

Italian media have reported that Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 72, is suspected of wiring the cash to recipients in Australia who helped to ensure hostile testimony in the abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell, who was accused of molesting choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s…

Quoting leaked documents, the Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera reported at the weekend that Vatican investigators suspect that Cardinal Becciu hoped to use the money to definitively derail Cardinal Pell’s transparency program, which threatened to expose Cardinal Becciu’s allegedly corrupt management of Vatican cash.

The Australian 5 October 2020

Cardinal Becciu used “journalists and contacts to discredit his enemies”, according to the Corriere della Sera report.

“It is precisely in this vein that the payment in Australia would have been made, possibly in connection with Pell’s trial,” the article claimed…

The former choirboy who accused George Pell of abusing him in the 1990s has denied knowing anything about Vatican bribes allegedly paid to witnesses against Pell.

The man, known during Pell’s trial as Witness J, spoke out after sensational reports that $1.1 million was sent to Australia to build a case against Pell.

He was one of two choirboys Pell was convicted of sexually assaulting before the convictions were overturned following a High Court appeal.

The reports in Italian newspapers do not name Witness J.

“My client denies any knowledge or receipt of any payments. He won’t be commenting further in response to these allegations,” his lawyer Dr Vivian Waller said today…

News Corp Australia understands that Pell was encouraged to return because of his knowledge of the Vatican’s financial systems, having served as its former Treasurer.

A source close to Cardinal Pell said that the Pope himself had made the request for Pell and that he was expected to be at the Vatican for a lengthy period…

Pell said last week after the Pope sacked Becciu that the pontiff played a “long game.”

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments,” he said.

“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria.”

I am back with Goodreads

Several years ago, I signed up for the author program on Goodreads. Unfortunately, I could not understand how it worked. It seems I am not the only one. After struggling for some time, and getting nowhere, I deleted my account.

Last week, I came across an FB posting by NYT bestselling author Alessandra Torre offering a webinar for authors on how to use Goodreads effectively. I watched the webinar several times. It was something of an eye-opener. She showed how to make the best of what (on her saying) is a confusing website for authors. So I am now back on Goodreads, confident I can use it, and intending to be more active than the last time.

If you are on Goodreads, be my friend or follower to stay up to date with my books. I have two books to be published before the end of the year.

If you would like to be on my mailing list, please email me on gerard@gerardcharleswilons.com

Ebooks are here to stay – get a device and save money

Those who continue to look down their noses at ebooks risk being left behind. I admit there is nothing like a bundle of pages sewn or pasted together, encased in a stunning cover. I love leaning back at my desk and staring at my bookshelves choc-a-block with books to the ceiling. But it would a self-defeating indulgence if I let those ethereal feelings hide the real advantages of the ebook.

I now buy many of my books in ebook format which I read on my Kindle device. There are several reasons for this. An ebook reader is very portable compared with a 600-page book; it shelve many books; the books are usually well below the hard copy price, especially with specialist books; and, finally, I can adjust the font size.

This last is a real advantage to me. As I get older I find it increasingly difficult to focus on the print size of many books. Novels are not often a problem, but many books on philosophy, politics and religion (my interests) have smaller than usual font sizes to keep the bulk of the book, and thus the price, down.

Take my advice. Get an ebook reader for ease and savings.

The Becciu File – Was the Cardinal framed?

Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s unprecedented sacking by Pope Francis has crucial importance for several reasons. Becciu was a second-rank official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State – a position with power. He frustrated and blocked Cardinal Pell’s efforts to sweep the filthy financial stables of the Vatican clean. His sacking vindicates Pell’s efforts as Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy to bring some transparency – and honesty – into Vatican finances.

The prelude to Becciu’s inglorious removal was a string of dodgy, smelly (some stinking) financial dealings. One of those shifty splashings of Vatican cash was a transfer of $800,000 to an account in Australia just when Cardinal Pell was undergoing his ordeal in Victoria’s corrupted legal system and police force. The voices talking about a framing originating in the Vatican are becoming louder. My Becciu file (a tab under Cardinal Pell section) will keep up to date with the Becciu and Pell affair.

Writer … and still in the fifties