“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s”

Ideas@TheCentre – The CIS newsletter (Sydney), 10 July 2009

The Catholic Church has long put the obstacle of the advocatus diaboli in the path of sainthood – someone who argues the devil’s case against the canonisation of a prospective saint. What the Catholic Church had not yet introduced, though, was an advocatus Australiae, an Australian gate opener to heaven. It needed the Prime Minister to take this new initiative to the Vatican.

No longer are miracles enough to speed up the way to sainthood, so Kevin Rudd took matters in his own hands. Taking some time off from saving the world economy at the G8 summit, he went on a pilgrimage to Rome to make the case for Mary MacKillop to be the first Australian saint.

‘Mary MacKillop was a great Australian, a great Catholic, and someone who presents this nation’s best opportunity to have a saint,’ our Protestant Prime Minister reminded the Pope. Apparently a good shepherd sometimes needs reminding about his flock, even if it comes from a black sheep.

The Vatican may have been on a wing and a prayer, but thanks to the Australian government it is no longer. How would a 2,000-year-old institution get things done anyway?

But would Our Lord approve of such government involvement? Of course He would, idle hands are the devil’s playground. There is more rejoicing in heaven over one proactive Prime Minister than more than 99 would-be saints.

Having found this divine purpose for government, there remained one difficulty: at last year’s World Youth Day in Sydney the pontiff had already proclaimed that Mary MacKillop would be made saint. It wasn’t good enough for the Prime Minister, who thundered at the Pope: ‘My will be done in Rome as it is in Canberra. So get on with it while I’m still in office. And when you’re doing your miracles give me the soccer World Cup, too.’ ‘Dependence on divine providence,’ as Mary MacKillop always preached does not do for our Prime Minister.

Amen, I tell you: Rudd’s kingdom is not of this world. Fortunately for him, blurring the boundaries between church and state is only a temporal sin.

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