Oration on the 150th anniversary of the Installation of the first Bishop of Armidale
Cathedral of Sts Mary & Joseph, Armidale
Before Armidale was…
32 years they had waited for a priest. Sure, a convict priest (Fr James Dixon) had been permitted to celebrate Mass for ten months in 1803;[i] a renegade priest (Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn) conducted a semi-public ministry for six months in 1818;[ii] and other convict priests and passing ships’ chaplains engaged in clandestine ministry from time to time. But it was only with the arrival of Frs Philip Conolly[iii] and John Joseph Therry[iv] in 1820, as official Catholic chaplains to the colony, that the Catholics of Australia were guaranteed the sacraments and pastoral leadership going forward.[v]
The faith and pastoral achievements of Fr Therry and the other clergy who came after him were remarkable. But many of them were also what we used to call ‘characters’. When Australia’s first Dominican, Christopher Dowling OP, arrived in 1831 to take over as official chaplain, Therry locked him out of the presbytery. On one occasion Therry dragged Dowling from the sanctuary before coming to his senses and apologizing. On another there was a public tug-o-war over the collection box! It was also alleged he had three heavies beat Dowling up in front of St Mary’s and steal his hat and watch! The meek Dominican then retreated to the relative safety of Western Sydney. When the first bishop arrived in 1835 he rewarded Dowling’s patience by giving him care of everything North of the Hawkesbury – including the region we now call New England!
2. John Bede Polding, first bishop of everywhere
Orphaned as a boy, John Bede Polding OSB was raised by Benedictine monks.[vi] He was a quick learner and natural leader, and held various offices in his monastery, congregation and school. He was known for his love of the faith, drama, cricket, England and the Irish. Nothing united those loves so well as the colony of New South Wales, in which he was romantically interested from childhood. So he was just the man in 1834 to appoint as ‘Vicar-Apostolic of New Holland, Van Diemen’s Land and the adjoining Isles’. If Dowling was, in a sense, the first pastor of this region – and everywhere North to Cape York – Polding was the first bishop of New England – and everything West to the Indian Ocean! Underlining this, in 1842 he was named Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of what we call today Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia.
‘The bishop of Botany Bay was a man of deep piety and generous heart, a born missioner who scorned personal hardship to bring the faith to his far-scattered and disadvantaged flock. He laboured incessantly to build up the Church – its buildings, clergy, nascent hierarchy and, above all, its people. Within a few years he had personally instructed seven thousand convicts before receiving the sacraments! He established parishes and missions, was an advocate for the Indigenous peoples, founded schools and a religious order, and invited other religious institutes to Australia.
Polding also engaged with the politics and culture of this fast-growing nation. He presided over provincial synods, founded St John’s College in the University of Sydney, consecrated Old St Mary’s Cathedral and commissioned a new one after the first burnt down. Not all his dreams came true: the idea of an English monastic-cathedral from which monkish missionaries would minister to a far-flung, largely Irish-Catholic population was always fantastical. His efforts to heal rifts between the monks and the seculars, between factions in the Catholic community, between English and Irish, convicts and free, Anglicans and Catholics, were less than successful. But as one contemporary put it: “His labours are incessant, his zeal unbounded, Protestants as well as Catholics revere him as a saint.”[vii]
To achieve all he did, Polding criss-crossed the country, mostly on horseback, covering up to 1500 km each month, often in searing heat, catechizing, dispensing sacraments and attending pastorally to his people. But no one can sustain such distances indefinitely, even one with his herculean strength and dedication. So, after seven years of care for the whole continent, Polding proposed subdividing his diocese. In 1842 Hobart and Adelaide were split off, followed by Perth in 1845, East Maitland in 1847, Melbourne, Darwin, Wellington and Auckland in 1848, Brisbane in 1859 and Goulburn in 1862. These erection of these new dioceses reflected the spread of settlers across Australia and each new bishop brought priests, religious and/or seminarians with him, mostly from Ireland, to cover the newly declared territory – and cutting down on Polding’s commuting time! On 9th November 1862 Pius IX created the new Diocese of Armidale.
3. Birth of the Diocese of Armidale
Thus the early history of the Church in Australia was marked by:
- a lay-led Church to begin with, then a gradual introduction of priests, bishops and religious;
- members mostly poor and Irish but some English and/or well to do, and gradually including Indigenous and other ethnicities;
- a shortage of human and financial resources for establishing an infrastructure of churches, presbyteries, schools and convents;
- a strong official connection with the Church in Europe (Rome, England, Ireland, Spain…);
- uneven but often strained relations with the state, the Protestant majority and the culture;
- a Church united over many issues but divided over some.
If Australia had to wait 32 years for a priest and 47 for a bishop, the patience of the Catholics of New England would also be tried.[viii] Priests visited sporadically in the 1840s, including Fr James Hanley from Morton Bay (= Brisbane) and Fr John Rigney from Singleton. Dean John Lynch had the pastoral care of all Catholics north of Maitland to the border, including the New Englanders. He visited Armidale from time to time before it was a diocese, became its leading priest, and laid the foundation stone for the first cathedral in 1870. Clergy were eventually stationed permanently in the district, the first being Fr Timothy McCarthy, who was ordained in Ireland in 1852, aged 23, sailed soon after for Sydney Town and was appointed while still a boy-priest to the New England district (1853-6). Following in the footsteps of Therry and Polding, the legendary ‘Father Tim’ traversed his territory on horseback, baptising, catechising, absolving, Massing, comforting the sick and confronting bush rangers.[ix] In 1865 he returned to Sydney, where he was rewarded with the deanship of St Mary’s Cathedral.
By 1862, when Armidale became a diocese, it had three or four priests[x] and as yet no religious to cover a territory half as big again as the whole of Ireland.[xi] There were perhaps 10,000 Catholics, many of whom were poorly catechised and sacrament-alised.[xii] There was as yet no railway and limited roads between the few chapels and schools.[xiii] There was much to be done!
The new Diocese was to make the unusual claim to fame of having three first bishops! On 11th June 1865 Fr James Bernard Hayes OSA,[xiv] an Augustinian priest long associated with Bishop James Goold OSA[xv] of Melbourne and by then Dean of Bendigo, was named as the first Bishop of Armidale. He refused, the Augustinians claim due to humility, but his death soon after in Dublin might suggest he was unwell.[xvi] On 10th October 1866 Fr John Crookall, an English priest, philosopher and composer with a doctorate in divinity, who knew John Henry Newman and was then Vicar General of Southwark Diocese, was named as Bishop of Armidale. He, too, refused, despite the efforts of Abbott Gregory to “humbug him over”.[xvii] So a third candidate had to be found.
4. Timothy O’Mahony before his great adventure…
Born in 1825 in County Cork, Timothy O’Mahony[xviii] was educated at the Irish College in Rome. He held four parish appointments, the last for 14 years as parish priest of St Finbar’s South in Cork, chaplain to the workhouse and director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He established night schools for working boys and a Sick Poor Society. A much-loved priest, he was described by parishioners as “holy, learned, prudent; eloquent in word, indefatigable in work; unselfish, unpretending, unswerving; rich in the resources of scholarship, richer in the blessings of the poor; with a hand every ready to help, and a heart ever gentle to feel.”[xix] In other words, he was rather like your present bishop!
O’Mahony’s nomination as an Australian bishop on 1st October 1869 would not have been a complete surprise, as Cardinal Paul Cullen[xx] of Dublin had already engineered the appointments of three of O’Mahony’s cousins as bishops in Australia: James Quinn[xxi] of Brisbane, Matthew Quinn[xxii] of Bathurst, and James Murray[xxiii] of Maitland; in due course he’d get his nephew Patrick Moran appointed also.[xxiv] O’Mahony was consecrated by Bishop William Delany (with Bishop Whelan of Bombay and Bishop Lynch of Kildare assisting) in Cork Cathedral on 30th November 1869.
Eight days later he was present in Rome for the opening of the First Vatican Council which Pope Pius IX had convoked to address issues like rationalism, liberalism and materialism. O’Mahony appointed Dean Lynch as his Vicar General with authority to begin the construction of a cathedral in the meantime. Polding, now 75, could not make the arduous journey and so Cullen caucused with the Australians on various matters.[xxv] O’Mahony spoke strongly in favour of papal infallibility and wrote to the diocese to tell them the good news of its definition.[xxvi]
After the Council was adjourned in the summer of 1870, O’Mahony returned to Ireland to fish for priests and seminarians for his new diocese. He netted four priests,[xxvii] and two seminarians: Patrick O’Connor – destined to be the third Bishop of Armidale – and Jeremiah Doyle – later the first Bishop of Lismore. In the meantime Rome had been occupied, Pius IX had become ‘a prisoner in the Vatican’, and the Council was suspended indefinitely – allowing O’Mahony to head down under.
5. Bishop O’Mahony in Armidale
Arriving in Sydney in March 1871, O’Mahony made a quick progress to Armidale, accompanied by Polding who, despite advancing years, was determined to install him on the Feast of the Annunciation, 150 years ago this month. So impressed was Polding by him that some thought he’d make him his coadjutor.[xxviii] Polding preached a “most affecting sermon” and “shed tears whilst bidding farewell to this beloved portion of his flock.”[xxix] He also sang O’Mahony’s praises to the local faithful, which would soon prove deserved. Though he didn’t travel as far as Polding, O’Mahony soon traversed the new diocese, visiting all the settlements. At a priestly ordination the Vicar-General “drew a glowing picture of the great fruits already resulting from the labours of the Bishop and his priests, and predicted in the spirit of confidence in God, a glorious future for the infant diocese of Armidale.”
Amongst those fruits one was that, by the end of his short tenure, Armidale’s priests had grown from 3 to 17.[xxx] O’Mahony confirmed many adults in the diocese who had waited for years for this sacrament, and fundraiser, commissioned and dedicated many new churches and schools, and offered Mass in the meantime in court houses, homesteads or wherever. He published a pastoral letter running to ten pages of small-print, promoting Catholic education and announced that he would seek some religious sisters from Ireland for this purpose. He held a diocesan synod (November 1873). He opened the first cathedral on 2nd February 1872, with frail Polding again presiding, assisted by the Bishops of Hobart Town, Bathurst and Goulburn.[xxxi]
O’Mahony was a jovial, hospitable man, who’d kissed the Blarney Stone and was a great conversationalist and controversialist. Polding’s coadjutor and eventual successor, Roger Bede Vaughan, preferred him to the other Irish bishops and the two were initially allies. The friendship was strained, however, when it emerged that O’Mahony was a staunch Irish nationalist and, like many Catholics of his time, regarded Australian Catholicism as a sub-branch of the Irish Church – a view not easily shared by the English archbishops. Drawn into colonial church politics, he joined his fellow Irish suffragans in protesting Vaughan’s appointment as Polding’s co-adjutor with right of succession; this earned a firm rebuke from Rome.[xxxii]
The rift with Vaughan was to have tragic consequences. The following year, O’Mahony was maliciously accused of habitual drunkenness and fathering a child by a girl named Ellen. Vaughan was appointed to investigate. The Irish bishops regarded the Englishman as biased in his selection of witnesses and too inclined to believe the worst of their cousin.[xxxiii] In fact Vaughan did not believe the allegations, nor did most of the clergy or even the accuser’s own brother, but the scandal grew and the diocese divided for and against. Some saw it as emblematic of the struggle between the English and Irish for the soul of the Australian Church.[xxxiv] Eventually O’Mahony’s accuser confessed that she’d fabricated the story and it emerged that the authors of the whole business were the girl’s mother and a priest O’Mahony had trusted (Fr Martin Kelly). But by then the damage had been done. In terms that resonate with Cardinal Pell’s recently published prison diaries,[xxxv] O’Mahony wrote that he harboured no ill-will towards his accusers and prayed God would forgive them.[xxxvi] But in the view of Vaughan and the Roman authorities his continued governance of the Diocese had become untenable, and so in August 1878 he submitted his resignation and returned to Rome hoping to vindicate himself.
Waiting for him there was Patrick Moran, destined to be Vaughan’s successor and delegated to tell O’Mahony he would not be returning to Australia.[xxxvii] Moran had assessed the file and reported that the accusations were exaggerated, the evidence flimsy, the complainants hostile, and the investigation unhelpful; he told Cullen he thought O’Mahony should be reinstated.[xxxviii] But by then Rome had concluded that the Irish-Australian bishops were a disreputable bunch and the English-Irish tensions needed to be short-circuited: so Rome next appointed two Italian bishops to Australia, Giovanni Cani for North Queensland and Elzear Torreggiani to Armidale, the latter serving here as Bishop for the next 25 years.[xxxix]
O’Mahony’s name having been cleared, he was soon after appointed auxiliary bishop of Toronto, Canada, pastor of a parish, and for a time Administrator of the Diocese of Hamilton. He remained in Toronto till his death, “after a long and painful illness”, 14 years later, and is buried there.
O’Mahony’s grave in Toronto
6. Some lessons for today
The Church today is no stranger to scandal, much of it brought on ourselves by the shameful actions of some clergy and lay people and the shameful inactions of some leaders. Nor is the Church stranger to undeserved attacks: three Australian bishops have been wrongly charged with abuse or cover-up in the last few years alone. But the Church carries on. As we have seen tonight, the last 200 years in Australia and 150 years in the Diocese of Armidale have seen the lay faithful in Australia overcome grave adversity, including a lack of pastoral leadership, and then work energetically with their pastors once they came. The Church in Australia has been graced with many strengths, from which we can and should draw courage and inspiration today:
- in the fidelity of the vast majority of the laity and clergy;
- in the courage of those missionaries like O’Mahony and those young priests and seminarians who accompanied him to this strange land, serving generously in harsh circumstances;
- in the extraordinary network of dioceses and cathedrals (like this beautiful one!), and of parishes and parish churches, schools, universities, hospitals, aged care facilities and welfare services that pastors and people have built up in this country, making the Catholic Church the biggest single contributor to this nation’s social and spiritual capital; and
- in the contribution to all that of Armidale’s now 25 parishes, 46 priests, 18 religious and 42,000 lay faithful, now 24 schools educating over 6,000 children, and other Church agencies, associations and ministries.
The Plenary Council for Australia has an extraordinary history to build upon as it discerns what the Spirit is saying to the Church in Australia today. We can have great confidence that the Church will once more renew herself and address the gifts and challenges to family, parish and school life, the need to re-evangelise the culture, the opportunities to ensure that the sacramental and pastoral life of the Church is extended far and wide – as the mothers and fathers of the Armidale diocese were so determined to ensure. Whatever challenges we have faced in the past, face now, or will face in future, anniversaries like this one are reminders that rather than acquiescing to the spirit of the age or our own negative emotions, we can and must redouble our efforts to be faithful to the Lord’s command to love and breathe the Holy Spirit of quiet and humble confidence.
After my first day at school at St Therese Lakemba, in Sydney, I came home and announced “Mummy, my teacher is so old!” “Really,” she asked, “how old dear?” I looked up at her and said, “I think she’s older than you!” Well, my mother was then 26 years old and my teacher, then known as Sr Paul Michael, now Judy, was probably even younger. She’s retired here in Armidale and to my delight has joined us tonight. She stands as a monument to a Church ever ancient and ever new. We pray tonight in thanksgiving for all those like her who have laboured in this vineyard of the Lord this century and a half past, and in whose missionary footsteps we walk today. We pray especially for this diocese, its bishop (my dear brother Michael) and other leaders, who from this cathedral church of Sts Mary and Joseph, seek to build up a Holy Family in New England.
With St Paul I ask that God grant that you be “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved”, dressed in “compassion, kindness, humility and patience”, demonstrating forbearance, forgiveness and above all love, with Christ’s peace in your hearts, His word in your minds, and spiritual songs on your lips, so that whatever the Church in Armidale does, it will do “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:12-17)
Happy 150th birthday Armidale Diocese and God bless the next century! In the spirit of confidence in God, I predict a glorious future for the not-so-infant diocese of Armidale!
[i] Vivienne Parsons, “Dixon, James (1758-1840),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1 (Melbourne University Press, 1966) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dixon-james-1980.
[ii] Vivienne Parsons, “O’Flynn, Jeremiah Francis (1988-1831),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2(Melbourne University Press, 1967) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/oflynn-jeremiah-francis-2521.
[iii] Linda Monks, “Conolly, Philip (1786-1839),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1 (Melbourne University Press, 1966) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/conolly-philip-1915.
[iv] John Eddy, “Therry, John Joseph (1790-1864),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2 (Melbourne University Press, 1967) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/therry-john-joseph-2722; Eris O’Brien, Life and Letters of Archpriest John Joseph Therry, 2 vols (Sydney, 1922); John McSweeney, A Meddling Priest: John Joseph Therry (Sydney: St Pauls Publications, 2000/2020).
[v] On the early history of the Catholic Church in Australia see: Cardinal Patrick Moran, History of the Catholic Church in Australasia (Sydney: Frank, Coffee & Co, 1895); Eris O’Brien, The Dawn of Catholicism in Australia, 2 vols (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1928); John Murtagh, Australia: The Catholic Chapter (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1959); Patrick O’Farrell, The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian History (University of NSW Press, 1977/1985/1992); John Molony, The Roman Mould of the Australian Catholic Church (Melbourne University Press, 1969).
[vi] Bede Nairn, “Polding, John Bede (1794-1877),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1967) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/polding-john-bede-2557; Frances O’Donoghue, The Bishop of Botany Bay: The Life of John Bede Polding, Australia’s First Catholic Archbishop (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1982); H.N. Birt, Benedictine Pioneers in Australia, 2 vols (London, 1911).
[vii] Nairn, “Polding”.
[viii] Sources on the early history of the Diocese include: Bishop Edward J. Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, New England, Australia (unpublished manuscript), ch. 3; J.P. O’Connor, Through the Century 1853-1953: Armidale Catholic Centenary Celebrations (1953); Roy Wright, Through Stained Glass: A compendium of Donor Artefacts for the Sesquicentenary of the Armidale Parish (2003) available at https://smjcathedral.org.au/history; “History of the Diocese,” Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Armidale https://arm.catholic.edu.au/about-us/history/armidale/diocese/.
[ix] “Fr Tim McCarthy and the bushrangers: Why the police trailed the priest,” Freeman’s Journal, 14 August 1930, p. 16; “The priest and the bushranger,” The Sun 12 November 1933, p. 41; “Bushrangers and Bishops called him ‘Father Tim’,” Catholic Weekly 5 November 1953, p. 12
[x] These were the Vicar-General Dean John T. Lynch, Fr Matthew Keogan, Fr Patrick Hewitt and Fr John O’Sullivan. Fr John Davis was ordained deacon by Bishop O’Mahony on the subsequent Easter Sunday and priest on the Low Sunday: Freemans Journal, 6 May 1871.
[xi] 120,000 sq km. Bounded to the East by the Ocean, to the North by the Queensland border, to the West by a line from Angledool to the Barwon River at a point 16 km west of Walgett, then by the Barwon and Namoi Rivers, and to the South by the Namoi and Hastings Rivers, the new diocese was 120,000 square kilometres in area. This was reduced to a mere 91,500 km2 in 1887 with the creation of the Diocese of Lismore and the addition of the townships of Tamworth and Gunnedah previously in the Diocese of Maitland.
[xii] Catholic Press, 7 May 1903, put the number in the diocese at the time of O’Mahony’s arrival at 10,000; Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, p. 137 put it at 6-7,000.
[xiii] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, p 136.
[xiv] Dean Hayes appears 74 times Goold’s diary: see Brian Condon and Ian Waters (eds), The Diary of James Alipius Goold OSA: First Catholic Bishop and Archbishop of Melbourne 1848-1886 (Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, 2009).
[xv] J.F. Hogan, A Biographical Sketch of the Late Most Rev. James Alipius Goold (Melbourne, 1886); J. R. Grigsby, “Goold, James Alipius (1812-1886),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 4 (Melbourne University Press, 1972).
[xvi] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 124-27.
[xvii] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 129-30.
[xviii] C.J. Duffy, “O’Mahony, Timothy (1925-1892),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/omahony-timothy-4332/text7031; Adrian Sharp, “A bit of Australian history in Toronto,” https://adriansharp.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/a-bit-of-australian-history-in-toronto/
[xix] Freemans Journal 9 April 1870; Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, p. 133.
[xx] John Molony, “Cullen, Paul (1803-1878),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 3 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969); Peadar Mac Suibhne, Paul Cullen and His Contemporaries, 3 vols (Naas: Leinster Leader, 1961-65); Dáire Keogh & Albert McDonnell (eds), Cardinal Paul Cullen and his World (Dublin: Four Courts Press, xxxx); Desmond Bowen, Paul Cardinal Cullen and the Shaping of Modern Irish Catholicism (Dublin: Gill & MacMillan, 1983).
[xxi] H.J. Gibbney, “Quinn, James (1819-1881),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/quinn-james-4425; Life and Labours of the Right Rev. Dr. O’Quinn (Brisbane: xxx, 1881); Philip Mennell, “Quinn, Right Rev. James,” Dictionary of Australasian Biography (London: Hutchinson, 1892).
[xxii] Brian Sweeney, “Quinn, Matthew (1821-1885),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/quinn-matthew-4426.
[xxiii] W.G. McMinn, “Murray, James (1828-1909),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974) https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/murray-james-4279; Yvonne McLay, James Quinn: First Catholic Bishop of Brisbane (Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland, 1975).
[xxiv] “Moran, Patrick Francis (1830-1911),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 10 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986), https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moran-patrick-francis-7648; Philip Ayres, Prince of the Church: Patrick Francis Moran, 1830-1911 (Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2007).
[xxv] Ayres, Prince of the Church, pp. 51 & 289 n25; Molony, The Roman Mould, pp. 121 & 136.
[xxvi] Freeman’s Journal, 18 April 1871; Molony, The Roman Mould, p. 139.
[xxvii] These were Fathers Martin Kelly, James Kelly, Patrick Dunne and Abbe Felix Schurr.
[xxviii] Ayres, Prince of the Church, pp. 56 & 290 n37.
[xxix] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, p. 135-6.
[xxx] Catholic Freeman’s Journal, 15th April, 1937. Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 151-2, notes the addition of Frs Edmond Callanan, John Davis, Jeremiah Doyle, Joseph Doyle, Framcis McLaughlin, Patrick Moloney, John O’Sullivan, John Pollard and Michael Harrington Ryan, as well as several more temporary clergy.
[xxxi] For a description of the cathedral itself and the elaborate ceremony of its opening see: Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, p. 140-46 ; Freeman’s Journal 10 February 1972; Armidale Express 2 February 1872.
[xxxii] Duffy, “O’Mahony”; O’Farell, Catholic Church and Community (3rd edn), 219ff..
[xxxiii] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 163-4.
[xxxiv] Duffy, “O’Mahony”: “Afraid for the prestige of the Irish bishops and scenting a conspiracy against them, Quinn sent Father George Dillon to Armidale to get evidence to clear O’Mahony from the charge of being ‘a perpetual drunkard’ and mounted a violent counter-attack in Australia and the Irish College. Quinn argued that the credibility of the anti-O’Mahony witnesses could be destroyed and that a conspiracy had been formed to get the bishop to compromise himself, but Rome accepted Vaughan’s 1875 report in which he found the main charge unproven but recommended that O’Mahony resign and go to Rome.” Cf. Circular Letter of the Priests of Armidale (1876) quoted in Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 172-3 and Letter of John N., brother of the accuser Ellen N., in ibid, pp. 175-81.
[xxxv] Cardinal George Pell, Prison Journal, vol. 1: The Cardinal Makes His Appeal (San Francisco: Ignatius Press / Freedom Publishing, 2020).
[xxxvi] Doody, The Story of the Diocese of Armidale, pp. 162-6.
[xxxvii] Ayres, Prince of the Church, p. 91.
[xxxviii] Ayres, Prince of the Church, p. 92.
[xxxix] Ayres, Prince of the Church, pp. 97 & 114.