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Tag Archives: seminary

Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia – go figure.

Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia.  It is one of those things that you know is true but remains incomprehensible.  Like the concept of infinity.  It’s hard to get your head around.

In most jobs you need to satisfy key criteria to even get an interview.  To get a managerial position you must have experience and proven expertise.  Along the way your success in meeting key performance indicators will be assessed.

Leaders should be people who inspire others, they should be role models and protectors, they should listen and empower, they should have good people skills and be able to negotiate, they should be trustworthy and able to explain the reasons for their decisions.

Or you can just agree to say climate change is crap, and become the leader of the nation.

But how did Tony even become a contender?

He attended a Catholic boys school where he bemoaned the fact that he was never chosen for the First XV rugby team.  Apparently this was not due to a lack of talent but to selectors who did not recognise Tony’s ability.

Tony then went on to study economics/law at Sydney University (for free) even though he never worked in either field and described economics as a boring “dismal science”.

Tony was active in student politics, eventually becoming an unpopular leader of the Student Representative Council.

“During my term, despite my objections, the SRC, continued to give money to feminist, environmental and anti-nuclear groups. I never managed to have the feminist and homosexuals’ slogans on the SRC walls painted over nor to open the ‘Womens’ Room’ to men, nor to make the SRC more accountable by ending compulsory SRC fees.”

Contacts within the Jesuit network secured a Rhodes scholarship for Tony to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford even though he had campaigned fiercely against the Philosophy and Political Economy courses at Sydney University describing them as a waste of resources and a hotbed of Marxist feminists.

The selectors for the Oxford rugby team also failed to appreciate Tony’s talent, dropping him after one game and suggesting that his ability had been overstated.

When he returned to Australia, Tony entered the seminary to train for the priesthood but quickly became disillusioned with a church who had “lost its way” in his opinion.

“Looking back, it seems that I was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires. My feeble attempts to recall her to her duty — as I saw it — betrayed a fathomless disappointment at the collapse of a cherished ideal.

In addition, a “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure.

The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless and the more I wanted to participate in worldly activities which were much more to my taste.

l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”

Of his time at St Patrick’s seminary, vice-rector Fr Bill Wright wrote of Tony that many found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”.

“Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

Tony had been writing the occasional article for the Catholic Weekly and, when he left the seminary, he began writing for the Packer-owned Bulletin where, interestingly, he instigated strike action over the sacking of photographers.

“When I was at the Bulletin, ACP management one day, quite unilaterally, decided to sack the entire photographic department ….we were all shocked, stunned, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted – when management just came in and said they were sacking the photographic department. So we immediately had a stop work meeting. There were various appropriately angry speeches made and I moved the resolution to go on strike, which was carried, as far as I can recall, unanimously, and we went on strike for a couple of days.”

Tony only lasted about a year before he was writing to wealthy contacts looking for a job.  Through the Jesuit network, he got one managing a concrete plant and very quickly found himself causing a total shutdown through his inept handling of employees.

In a 2001 interview with Workers Online Tony explained what happened.  Interestingly, some time between me quoting the article in August and now, it has been removed.  I guess we now know what all those people employed to trawl social media are being paid to do – erase history.  It is happening to an increasing number of links but it is too late, the information is out there.

“I got to the plant in the morning, marched up and down the line of trucks like a Prussian army officer, telling owner-drivers who had been in the industry for longer than I had been alive, that that truck was too dirty, and that truck was filthy, and that truck had a leaking valve and had to be fixed.

Naturally enough, this wasn’t very popular, and I had been there a couple of months, and a phone call came through one morning from the quarry manager, saying that there was going to be a strike starting at midday.”

Tony then took it upon himself to take delivery and run the conveyer belt on his own.

“A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: “Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?”. I said “Yeh”. He says “Right – nothing moves – this plant’s black – like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!”

I thought that there’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: “Stan I’m sorry. I’m new in this industry. I appreciate that I’ve been a bit of a so-and-so, but you’ve made your point and I will try to be different.”

He said to me: “It’s out of my hands. It’s in the hands of the union organiser.” So I said, who’s the union organiser and what’s his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded.  I said, well, look why don’t we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I’ll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: “I’m putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry.”

Abbott soon quit the job as it wasn’t paying enough money and accepted a position with The Australian as a journalist. When they went on strike over pay and conditions, Tony was by now campaigning on the side of management, arguing in front of six to seven hundred people at the lower Trades Hall in Sussex Street that they shouldn’t go on strike.  His speech did not meet with a particularly warm reception and the strikes went ahead.

He continued writing at The Australian until John Howard recommended him for a position as the then Federal Liberal leader John Hewson’s press secretary.  Tony was responsible for the infamous line in a Hewson speech saying you could tell the rental houses in a street.

Is it any wonder that Hockey thinks that “poor people don’t drive” and Pyne thinks that “women don’t take expensive degrees”?

In 1994 Tony was gifted the safe Liberal seat of Warringah in a by-election and has been skating ever since.

He has changed his mind on innumerable things, lied and contradicted himself countless times, and then denied lying, even changing his words and removing online links.

He is a man whose convictions are dictated to him by polls and focus groups in marginal seats and by marketing teams.  Peta Credlin has increasingly centralized control failing to learn the Rudd lesson.

Tony learns his script but does not bother reading actual reports, relying on others to just tell him what to say.  His Star Chamber silence dissent, pay hacks to produce reports saying what they want to hear, refuse to release any that may be critical or negative, while arrogantly and blatantly rewarding their political donors.

Tony is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination.

It is not the Labor Party who is stopping this from being a decent government.

Darren Lockyer, the Pope, Tony Abbott and a school boy were all on the same plane when the engine failed and started to plummet towards the Earth.

They all realised that there was four of them and only three parachutes.

Darren Lockyer got up and said, “I am a sporting superstar and must live so that I can please my fans and continue my career to beat the Kiwis and the Poms in the tri-nations series.”

So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

Then Tony Abbott got up and said, “I am the smartest Prime Minister Australia has ever had and I need to live to continue to govern the nation.”

So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

Then the Pope said to the school boy, “I am old and have lived my life so you should take the last parachute instead of me.”

The school boy replied, “No, it’s okay, the worlds smartest Prime Minister took my school bag so there’s one for each of us!”

Captain Confrontation

Whenever Tony Abbott takes on his tough guy approach his popularity in the polls seems to rise, or more accurately, his unpopularity wanes a little.  The smirk disappears, the slow measured speech, mind-numbing repetition and finger-counting disappears, and Tony comes as close as he gets to sincerity.  He seems to enjoy confrontation and relish in a belligerent reaction.  And it has always been thus.

Whilst at Sydney University, Tony led an aggressive rightwing revolt against the leftwing orthodoxies of the late 70s and the campus was covered with anti-Abbott graffiti.

In a 2004 article by the Sydney Morning Herald, one former student who was at Sydney University with Tony Abbott, Barbie Schaffer, described Tony Abbott as “very offensive, a particularly obnoxious sort of guy” and also being “very aggressive, particularly towards women and homosexuals”.

During this time, Tony  was charged with bending a street sign, accused of indecent assault, of kicking in a glass panel after being defeated at the University Senate elections in 1976, and, after having being defeated by Barbara Ramjan for the SRC presidency, approaching her, moving to within an inch of her nose, and punching the wall on both sides of her head.

Abbott’s willingness to confront people continued at Oxford.

In May 1982, six days after the British sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano, with 323 killed, an Oxford demonstration took place against Thatcher’s military campaign in the Falklands. Hundreds of chanting students and locals converged on the Martyrs’ Memorial, a traditional gathering place for protesters.

Abbott hurriedly scraped together a dozen fellow rightwingers from Queen’s, rushed to the memorial, and mounted a counter-demonstration in favour of the British war effort. Provocatively, he stood beside the peace protesters, one hand in his pocket, bellowing pro-Thatcher slogans.  “Police attempts to disperse [his] unofficial meeting met with little response”.

Of his time at St Patrick’s seminary, vice-rector Fr Bill Wright wrote of Tony that many found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”.

“Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

When the Church made a generous and unprecedented offer to accommodate Tony’s demands that he would prefer to study than do pastoral care and about where he would like to live and study, Tony rejected their offer and subsequently left.  Fr Wright asserts that

“Once Tony had beaten the system and was no longer able to locate the ‘struggle’ as being between himself and authority, he had no-one much else blocking his path but himself.”

We have all heard about Tony decking Joe Hockey at football but what you may not realise is that they played for the same club and the stoush happened at training.  Joe regularly played in the thirds and often got a run in the first XV but Tony, who was 10 years older and coached and sometimes captained the seconds, refused to pick Joe.  Hockey admits he didn’t like the way Abbott ran the team. By his own admission, he was also abrasive. Joe didn’t like his selections and didn’t mind telling him so.  So when Hockey saw the opportunity, he went straight for Abbott’s kidneys.  Tony’s reaction was “a blistering array of uppercuts, hay-makers and wild swings” which left Hockey unconscious with two black eyes.

Tony was writing for the Bulletin at this time and actually led a strike.

“When I was at the Bulletin, ACP management one day, quite unilaterally, decided to sack the entire photographic department ….we were all shocked, stunned, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted – when management just came in and said they were sacking the photographic department. So we immediately had a stop work meeting. There were various appropriately angry speeches made and I moved the resolution to go on strike, which was carried, as far as I can recall, unanimously, and we went on strike for a couple of days.”

From there Tony moved on to briefly manage a concrete plant and very quickly found himself causing a total shutdown through his inept handling of employees.  Tony explained what happened in a 2001 interview with Workers Online.

“The ideology of the company was, in those days, was that the concrete industry had been run for far too long for the benefit of the owner-drivers and not enough for the benefit of the company and its shareholders – and we had to change that. So, like an obedient young fella I got to the plant in the morning, marched up and down the line of trucks like a Prussian army officer, telling owner-drivers who had been in the industry for longer than I had been alive, that that truck was too dirty, and that truck was filthy, and that truck had a leaking valve and had to be fixed.

Naturally enough, this wasn’t very popular, and I had been there a couple of months, and a phone call came through one morning from the quarry manager, saying that there was going to be a strike starting at midday, so can we put a bit of stuff on the road to you. And I said sure, send me as much as you’ve got. I’ll use it. I can keep my plant open for longer than I otherwise might.

I didn’t think anymore about it. All these trucks turn up at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon with gravel and sand and aggregate, wanting to dump it. And I couldn’t dump it without running material from the ground bins up to the overhead bins. It took me about half an hour to figure out how to turn the conveyor belt on because all the staff had gone home. I finally got it going; the materials were dumped; I went home feeling that I had done my job well. A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: “Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?”. I said “Yeh”. He says “Right – nothing moves – this plant’s black – like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!”

So anyway, I drove out to the plant that morning, thinking well, you know, this is a bit of a problem. How do I solve this? I thought that there’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: “Stan I’m sorry. I’m new in this industry. I appreciate that I’ve been a bit of a so-and-so, but you’ve made your point and I will try to be different.”

He said to me: “It’s out of my hands. It’s in the hands of the union organiser.” So I said, who’s the union organiser and what’s his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded, and he said: “It’s more than my job’s worth to let this go. Bloody Pioneer are always pulling stunts like this. We’ve had enough of it! We’re sick of it! Got to do something.” So I said, well, look why don’t we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I’ll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: “I’m putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry.”

Tony left soon after and began writing for the Australian.  When they went on strike over pay and conditions, Tony was by now campaigning on the side of management, arguing in front of six to seven hundred people at the lower Trades Hall in Sussex Street that they shouldn’t go on strike.  His speech did not meet with a particularly warm reception and the strikes went ahead.

When Tony became Minister for Industrial Relations in 2001, when trying to sell his workplace agreements, he said “I would have thought that sensible, intelligent organisations – unions no less than political parties like to say that if you are not against me you are at least potentially for me. Whereas the union I think is saying, if you are not for me you are against me, which I think is a counter-productive attitude.”  Pity he didn’t think of that before coming up with Team Australia.

As Health Minister in 2004, Abbott defended John Howard’s decision to invade Iraq.

“As the critics constantly point out, war means that innocent people die. Unfortunately, any peace which leaves tyrants in charge also means that innocent people die. Pacifism is an honourable course of action for an individual prepared to suffer the consequences of turning the other cheek. But requiring collective non-resistance is complicity in evil. It’s an odd moral universe where the accidental killing of Iraqis by soldiers of the Western alliance is worse than the deliberate killing of Iraqis by Saddam Hussein or where it’s immoral to risk hundreds of Western lives to save hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.”

Tony has continued the tough guy rhetoric in recent times, offending China, Russia, Indonesia, Palestine, Malaysia, PNG, East Timor, and most Muslims.  He is amplifying the danger to our national security every chance he gets (whilst admitting the actual threat has not changed) and is spending unending billions on defence, armaments, border protection, and anti-terrorist initiatives.

Captain Confrontation has chosen the ground and brought out the heavy roller to prepare the pitch for the spinners.

Nothing is free? Depends who you are.

“[The budget] will do for people what they cannot do for themselves, but no more.  Nothing is free. Someone always pays.”

A common refrain from Tony Abbott and his band of miserly men is that the taxpayer is footing the bill for all those “leaners” and that people should take more personal responsibility for themselves.  User pays seems to be the pervading Coalition strategy in most areas – education, health, fuel excise, road tolls, GST.

It is somewhat ironic that Tony Abbott is leading this spin considering how much he has been given.

Tony came from England to Australia for free when his parents took advantage of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme.  His father became a wealthy man who paid for Tony to attend private Jesuit schools.

Tony then benefited from a free university education thanks to Gough Whitlam.

In a 1979 interview printed in Honi Soit, the Sydney University student newspaper, Tony said:

“I think too much money is spent on education at the moment,” adding that departments such as General Philosophy and Political Economy should be the first to go”.

This contempt for philosophy and political economy seemed to disappear when it was suggested to Tony that he might be able to get a free ticket to Oxford via a Rhodes Scholarship.  He applied to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

University and college fees are paid by the Rhodes Trust. In addition, scholars receive a monthly maintenance stipend to cover accommodation and living expenses.

After returning from England, Tony decided to let the Catholic Church pay for his education and keep and entered St Patrick’s seminary at age 26, significantly older than most of his fellow seminarians.

While at the Seminary, he wrote articles for The Catholic Weekly and The Bulletin.

In 1987, he quit the Seminary and started looking at a future in politics, although he continued writing for The Bulletin.

After marrying Margie in 1988, Abbott decided that writing for The Bulletin was boring and he wrote to a number of “business leaders” asking them for a job.

His plea for a job was answered by Sir Tristan Antico, a “prominent member of the wider Jesuit network” who offered Tony Abbott the position of Plant Manager at Sydney Concrete in Silverwater even though he had no experience or qualifications for the position.

Abbott soon quit the job as it wasn’t paying enough money and accepted a position with The Australian as a journalist.  He continued writing at The Australian until John Howard recommended him for a position as the then Federal Liberal leader John Hewson’s press secretary.  Tony was responsible for the speech when Hewson said “you can tell the rental houses in a street”.

In 1992, he was appointed director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, a position he held until 1994, when he was successfully elected to parliament when gifted pre-selection for the Warringah by-election.

From the age of 36 Tony lucked into the highest paying job you can get with no qualifications, experience or specific skills, and then in 2009, he was gifted the leadership in return for becoming a climate change denier.  Some may say that the Labor Party then gifted him the Prime Ministership.

He has had free air travel, chauffeur-driven cars, and tickets for him and his family to anything they want to attend.

We pay for his books, his volunteering, his charity work.  We pay for his petrol and his phone and his food and his electricity.

We buy him new jets so he can fit in the hundreds of photographers and businessmen that now travel everywhere with him.

As Opposition leader, Tony claimed over $1 million a year in “expenses”.  I shudder to think what his time as Prime Minister will cost us, particularly considering his accommodation decisions.  It should be remembered that Abbott is living in public housing.

The lavish Canberra home Tony Abbott refused to move into while the Lodge was being renovated has cost the government nearly $120,000.

The full cost of the ill-fated lease – including termination fees and legal advice – was confirmed at a budget estimates committee hearing in May.

The budget for the prime minister’s official residences (the Lodge and Kirribilli House) will increase from $1.61m in 2013-14 to $1.7m next financial year, rising to $1.77m, $1.81m and $1.86m in subsequent years.  This is “for items, staff and cooking within the residences and to maintain the gardens”, but does not include the building upkeep.

Howard, the only other Prime Minister to refuse to move to where his job is, racked up over $18 million in flights between Sydney and Canberra during his term.

Tony’s daughters have also been fortunate.

His daughter Louise was appointed executive assistant to Australia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva  which is headed by former Coalition staffer Peter Woolcott.

There was internal disquiet at DFAT in Canberra about what some staff saw as a lack of transparency in the hiring and how Ms Abbott came to be doing high-level work, such as delivering a public statement on disarmament, when there were up to 14 policy specialists attached to the mission.

But a spokesman for DFAT said the job helping represent Australia to the United Nations was awarded “on the basis of merit.”  Just like the unadvertised $60,000 scholarship thrust upon Frances Abbott even though she hadn’t even applied to go to the college let alone for any scholarship.

Regardless of what happens in the future, Tony will continue to be supported by the public purse for life.

Each former PM is entitled to at least two staff, including a senior private secretary, and the annual wages bill of each is about $300,000.

In 2010 it was reported that John Howard’s office was the most expensive, with expenses averaging $850,000 a year.  Mr Howard’s expenses blew out well in excess of the other four former prime ministers no longer in Parliament thanks to a $450,000 office refit in 2008/09 to his swanky digs in Sydney’s MLC building, which was already costing nearly $14,000 a month to rent.

In the seven months after leaving office, Mr Howard spent $109,892 on limousine services, evenly split between the government Comcar service and private hire cars.

The former PMs also have their home and mobile phone bills paid by taxpayers, as well as unlimited allowances for publications, a private self-drive car, and air fares for them and their spouse.

These are in addition to their pensions under the generous former Parliamentary superannuation scheme, which gives them a pension indexed to current MPs’ salaries for life.

Assuming Tony Abbott remains Prime Minister for the next four years he could walk away with an annual pension of more than $380,500 and that’s not including the rest of the perks.

So when Tony shows no understanding of how real people live, when he wastes money on war toys while cutting pensions, it isn’t really his fault that he has no idea how to prioritise spending.  Other people have always paid for Tony.  No HECS debt for him, no applying for jobs, no making sacrifices to save for retirement, no wondering how to pay phone and electricity bills, no waiting for a flight or ringing a cab.

That self-satisfied smirk from Tony is not because he doesn’t care, it’s because he doesn’t have to.

Seminary similarity

rebel

Photo: nofibs.com.au

Recently I came across an extraordinary article published in the Bulletin magazine (reproduced at nofibs) written by Tony Abbott in 1987, six months after he left St Patrick’s seminary.

Before I go any further, I realise that is 27 years ago and that people change or “grow” as Tony likes to put it.  The disturbing aspect of this story is how much it reflects the Tony we see today.  All quotes come from the article Tony wrote, and an article published in response a week later written by Bill Wright, a priest and church historian, who was vice-rector at St Patrick’s whilst Tony was there.

From the start, Tony was a controversial figure at the seminary.  Whilst some seemed to admire him, others found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”.  After the heady days of university, “Tony was not, on the whole, impressed by his companions”.

In his article, Abbott blames the church for not living up to his ideals.

“Looking back, it seems that I was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires. My feeble attempts to recall her to her duty — as I saw it — betrayed a fathomless disappointment at the collapse of a cherished ideal.

In addition, a “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure.

The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless and the more I wanted to participate in worldly activities which were much more to my taste.

l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”

Contemporary Catholicism did not sit well with Tony who said his was “a hard-headed, worldly faith ill-wed to the “softer” kind of Catholicism predominant at St Patrick’s.”

“At university the need to defend Catholicism in a hostile environment had led me to an extremely naturalistic defence of traditional beliefs and disciplines. Abortion was wrong, because it violated instinctive respect for life; contraception, because it was usually part of a “me now” mentality. The Mass was a chance quietly to restore one’s energies; confession enabled embarrassing problems to be discussed safely before they became crippling. ”

Whilst at the seminary, Tony was very public about his criticism, speaking on radio and writing an article about St Patrick’s that was published in the Northern Herald , giving the “real reasons why people leave — which include ennui, psychosomatic illness and an unwillingness to conform to whatever model of the priesthood happens to be momentarily fashionable.”

Tony’s lack of empathy was highlighted when he was given the role of infirmarian at the seminary, a job that involved supervising the medicine cabinet and ensuring that the ill were not forgotten in their rooms.

“My view was that I knew nothing about medicine and that those too sick to eat in the dining room ought to be in hospital.  Anyway, I thought, most were malingering. So I encouraged “self-service” of medicines and suggested that meals would be better fetched by the friends of the sick. Many deeply resented this disdain for college’s caring and communitarian ethos. And, I confess, I did not have the courage to refuse room service to members of the seminary staff.”

Inevitably, Tony fell out with seminary authority.  Fr Brian Wright said

“The study of theology did not capture Tony’s imagination.  He did passably well; not as well as his academic background may have indicated.  I do not recall that he ever talked about theology while at Manly.  His concern was with churchmanship, how the Catholic Church could better commend itself to the hearts of Australians; how the individual priest could enliven and uplift those who were turning away from uninspired ministers.”

In other words, he was interested in the politics and in attracting the swinging voters even then.  Fr Wright goes on to say

“Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

What an astute observation about our current Prime Minister by a man who knew him well and watched him in action.

With a growing concern about Tony’s motivation and suitability for the priesthood, the head of the seminary suggested that Tony do a “pastoral year” living in a presbytery and working in a parish.  Tony, after initial resistance, spent some time out at Emu Plains about which he said “I found it difficult to believe that this was meant to be my life.”

After a few months Tony was sick of it.  He wrote to Patrick Murphy, the new Bishop of Broken Bay, spelling out his demands.

“My preference was to live at Emu Plains and to study theology at Sydney University. Alternatively, I wanted to study at St Patrick’s on a part-time or quasi-correspondence basis.”

The bishop had other ideas. “Along with others,” he wrote, “I admire several qualities which you obviously have shown. However, there are some radical attitudes about Church and priesthood … which will have to be worked through before you would be accepted for the diocese or profit from seminary formation.”

Tony was asked to see a psychologist who concluded that he had developed an inability to be really intimate and that without the warmth and trust of real intimacy he would find life in the celibate priesthood too frustrating and lacking in peace”.  Rather than interpreting this to mean fellowship with his brothers and empathy for humanity, as it was intended, Tony’s mind turned to sex.

“Lack of sensual intimacy is something that priests have always had to handle. In my case, this had become a heavy burden because I was not naturally drawn to the life of the priesthood and because the modern Church — by minimising its mystique and spiritual elan — had eroded any other basis for its undertaking.”

But Tony didn’t want an analysis of his difficulties and especially not an analysis couched in the terms of psychology, saying “it was really the seminary staff who needed psychological investigation”.  He wanted tangible support for his agenda.  The Bishop of Parramatta eventually agreed to accept Tony as his student and offered a return to St Patrick’s on a full-time live-in basis or studies at the Marist seminary at Hunters Hill and residence at another presbytery within the diocese. By the Church’s lights, it was a generous and radical proposal, one that had never been offered to anyone before.  They were bending over backwards to accommodate Tony but it wasn’t good enough.

“I think I had subconsciously stipulated that the Church needed to forget the usual considerations of prudent caution and simply agree, just once, to what I wanted.”

Father Wright suggests that

“Once Tony had beaten the system and was no longer able to locate the ‘struggle’ as being between himself and authority, he had no-one much else blocking his path but himself.”

A commenter at nofibs summed up Tony’s article well.

“As a catholic myself what struck me about Abbott’s account here was his overweening self-importance and sense of entitlement. There must have been many quiet prayers of thanks when this restless soul left the seminary. He seems to be a man driven by the need to oppose. Debating, boxing, rugby, student politics marked him in youth as a formidable adversary. He took that fighting spirit to St Patrick’s which let him down because it did not offer enough ‘bravura’ to sustain him. Now of course the admiration for belligerence as Opposition leader has probably provided a new yardstick for assessing the success or failure of future incumbents of that position. I would like Tony Abbott to explain why he wanted to be a priest rather than why the church did not meet his expectations. I would also like to know why he wants to be PM and whether this country will have enough ‘bravura’ for him or whether he will have to reshape us in his own image.”

Father Wright finished his article with some advice for Tony which is chillingly relevant today.

“I only know that we must try to make things come out right, in the full knowledge that it may serve some higher purpose for them to come out wrong”.

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