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Does David Marr have an anti-Catholic problem?

September 15, 2012

Does David Marr have an anti-Catholic problem?

I am extremely sceptical of emotive people who place themselves into the centre of public discussion. It is not that they may have a valid point. It is that the validity of the point and the evidence to support such a point is often lost in a quick grab to pull upon the heart strings or to trigger base level anger over an issue. The other kind of person that alerts my sceptical nature is the person who uses their own dogma on a subject as the self evident position to which all other viewpoints can be criticised. To be more specific Australia Journalist David Marr appears to suffer from both of these human weaknesses.

To watch him in action is to see a person playing the crowd with a number emotional pin pricks then he applies his own bohemian and leftist dogmas as if it is the final word on every subject. It is a shame that such a talent appears to be wasted on what looks like entertainment for a narrow cheer squad rather than doing the hard yards and produce evidence to support his case. For Marr the trigger point of his ire seems to be those that disagree with his narrow leftist viewpoint. This includes catholics in positions of influence and anyone who is not an ultra left bohemian stereotype like he is.

In the past week David Marr has published his view of Tony Abbott in the Quarterly Essay title ‘Political Animal’. In it he made a good many negative claims about Tony Abbott, the most reported was the unsubstantiated allegation made that he had intimidated a female SRC candidate Barbara 
Ramjan 35years ago by punching the wall near her face.

Whilst an allegation from 35 years about a 19 year university student might seem like a bazaar waste of everyone’s time (ie:if you have to go back 35 years to find dirt then you are really desperate) , the nature of the allegation plays into a theme that the Australian Labour Party has been harping on for some years: namely that Abbott is a misogynist thug and has a problem with women. If the electorate has less an IQ point between them then this kind of slur might find traction but so far that is not the case. It also seems that Australian do know a smear campaign when they see one.

Former close friend of Abbott at university, Greg Sheridan, has weighed to reject the allegation, stating that there no was discussion about this allegation at the time from anyone. Even after 35 years the best witness to the allegation is a former Labour Party candidate and left-wing lawyer David Patch who claims he was told about it. In two articles written for The Australian newspaper Sheridan blasts the accusations as false and totally out of character with the Tony Abbott he knew at that time. In a follow up editorial he makes this observation about Marr’s essay,

David Marr’s sloppy, frequently inaccurate and almost absurdly unfair little pamphlet on Tony Abbott, Political Animal, involves not only sloppy mistakes and ludicrous allegations. Much more than that, it involves a great act of historical forgetting, a kind of willed historical ignorance.”

Yet it is in an interview with ABC radio that Sheridan gives his greatest condemnation accusing Marr of running an aggressive anti-catholic campaign. The audio link is below:

Sheridan makes the claim that it is “the most shameful sectarian anti-catholic campaign he had ever seen…” The interview is well worth a listen because Sheridan also criticises the ABC for its uncritical acceptance of the unsubstantiated accusation by a long term political opponent. Greg goes as far as contacting members of the Labour Party at that time to confirm that no one had heard about this accusation before.

Australian journalist Gerard Henderson is also questioning the nature of the accusation in his weekly column called ‘Media Watch Dog’ (not to be confused with the ABC’s ‘Media Watch TV’) Henderson does what Marr should have done and goes to the Sydney University to access the microfiche records of the student SRC magazine called ‘Honi Soit’ where there was plenty of criticism of Tony Abbott but absolutely no mention of the wall punching allegation. With any corroborative evidence from 35 years or any contemporaneous evidence since this case looks very shakey.

Henderson also quotes from recent Quarterly Essay called ‘Political Animal’ to show the style Marr has used in his so called ‘analysis. I have added a few extracts from Media Watch Dog including Henderson’s comments below:

 Page 3 : Here is Marr’s initial description of Abbott –  “loudmouth bigot” when at university; “the homophobe”; “the blinkered Vatican warrior”;  “the rugger bugger”; “the white Australian”; and “the junkyard dog of parliament”.  All clear?

 Page 8 : The Jesuit priest, Fr Emmet Costello S.J., spends his priestly career ministering “to the rich, pursuing death-bed conversions in harbour mansions and bringing distinguished lapsed Catholics back into the fold”.  That’s all he does, apparently.  He is a friend of Abbott.

 Pages 8-9 : Three men recruited Abbott into the Peace With Freedom movement – which was supported by B.A. (Bob) Santamaria’s National Civil Council.  The first, journalist Peter Samuel, was “cranky”. The second, Professor Warren Hogan, was “embattled”. And the third, trade union organiser Joe de Bruyn, was a “hard-line Catholic”.  Get the picture?

 Page 13 : Marr refers to the fact that Abbott’s girlfriend Kathy McDonald fell pregnant while at university (it was found out, years later, to someone other than Abbott) as “the old Catholic catastrophe: no chastity, no contraception, no abortion, and…no marriage”.  Marr seems to believe that such a fate only befell young Catholic women in the 1970s.  So what were the non-Catholic orphanages all about, then?

 Page 36 : Marr accuses Abbott of running “a Jesuitical line” on refugees.  Marr seems unaware that many contemporary members of the Catholic religious order the Society of Jesus – or Jesuits – are very sympathetic to the refugee cause.  Including Fr. Frank Brennan S.J. So where do you find the “Jesuitical line”?  This is yet another example of Marr’s anti-Catholic sectarianism.

 Page 61 : According to Marr, Abbott sounds like “a Vatican ideologue”. More anti-Catholic sectarianism for which Marr is well known.

Reading these quotes gives the impression that David Marr really does have a problem with Abbott on a very personal and vindictive level. Not just because he is Liberal Party leader and Marr is a Leftist zealot, but because Abbott happens to be too catholic for Marr. The most despicable of all creatures apparently.

The question is whether anti-catholic bias has been part of a pattern by David Marr or is this just a once off brain snap for the Quarterly Essay. In other words did Marr set out write a hatchet job on Tony Abbott because he happened to be catholic? To answer this question in the affirmative would speak volumes about the vindictive and bigoted nature of David Marr.

I did manage to search up some immortal quotes by David Marr from a previous interview/debate he had on the ABC network program ‘Q&A’ from around 2001.

David Marr on Q&A when referring to the newly Appointed Cardinal Pell

Dr Pell’s view of homosexuals is spiteful and horrible.
He even blames the homosexual community itself for the suicide of troubled gay men.
He blames not the Church, of course — which is the last institution in Australia pumping out hatred of homosexuals — he blames the homosexual community itself on the grounds that it is our fault because we recruit homosexuals.”

Later in the same interview:

 “I think all of these things have to be determined by what’s actually said and what’s actually done.
I don’t think it’s compassionate to say the kind of hateful things that the Church and Dr Pell says about homosexuals, about some women and people who practice ordinary forms of birth control.
The hatred is so powerful.
And it’s called by the Church ‘compassion’.
I don’t speak that language.
I speak another language.”

More from Marr in the same interview:

“But he has an extremely strong syllabus, which is not supported by most Catholics, of insistence on the most formal moral rules and all of the genital morality of the Orthodox Catholic Church and this is what really pumps it out.”



Or as Gerard H would say: “More anti-Catholic sectarianism for which Marr is well known.”

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2012 11:44 am

    If he wasn’t David Marr he would be arrested for Internet Trolling.

    They’re slanderous accusations.

    I’m no political animal, as you well know, but from a simplistic point-of-view, I like the way Tony Abbot sits back and watches others (including the Labor Party) self-destruct.

    It’s the smartest political strategy of all.

    You are a fantastic writer, and a thorough and meticulous researcher. You should be making a fortune out of your writing skills. This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read.


    • September 21, 2012 2:20 pm

      Long time no see.
      Thanks for your comments.

      Marr is one of these funny fellows who says stuff that is so bad, so camp and unashamedly biased that he only discredits himself. I just saw in the last 2 days that he back peddling and mystified as to why there was a fuss about his sensational claims. Go figure. However it does make great copy.


  2. September 23, 2012 10:21 am

    It’s all about “great” copy.

    Now we have the debate about legalizing same-sex marriage as leading to approving of bestiality between a human and a “consenting” animal.

    It’s all about the copy.


    • September 23, 2012 1:48 pm


      The 24hour news cycle never ceases to amaze me.
      I think he was trying to refer to Prof Peter Singer’s ideas but somewhere between speaking and reporting it became mush.


  3. September 23, 2013 9:13 am

    David Marr is probably anti-paedophile. What he forgets is that many Catholic priests are not paedophiles. The hierarchy of the church simply didn’t know about it. This ignorance occurred even though the Doyle Mouton report revealing the full extent of the problem was published in 1985. That report can be downloaded from the Internet. Father Doyle was a Dominican priest and a Canon lawyer who alerted the Vatican to the problem to calm in 1985, and were roundly ignored. The Catholic Church has already paid $3 billion in damages in United States including $645 million in the parish of Los Angeles alone. Cardinal Mahoney of that parish publicly expressed concern for those who had been victims, but unfortunately some hacker found his instructions to his lawyers about blocking the enquiry and these were published on the net.
    Some of the highlights are a priest call Father Shanley from Boston who told an 8-year-old child that oral sex was holy Communion, and Father Rudy Kos who sodomised 243 all the boys in Dallas. So I don’t know why David Marr is making such a fuss.


    • September 23, 2013 1:12 pm

      Geoffrey Edward Hart
      Thanks for your comments.

      I am not sure why you assert the pedophile red herring into this subject.

      Then you insist upon drowning your response in a whole pile of irrelevant anecdotes about a completely different subject.
      Incidentally have you checked the the stats on the number pedophiles in secular organisations? Or is just Catholic ones that get you fired up? I suspect the later.

      Regardless of which, my post relates to David Marr’s own assertions. Not ones which you say he should have made.


      • September 23, 2013 1:43 pm

        David Marr was on the television this morning and as part of his anti-Catholic rant was discussing Cardinal George Pell’s response to the paedophile issue, so I thought it was relevant to the issue of David Marr’s character. I’m intrigued by your statement that secular organisations also practice paedophilia on a regular basis. I suppose this is the old Christian principle that two wrongs make a right, but I eagerly await the investigation into the paedophile activities of the directors of other large organisations such as BHP and Westfield if what you say is true


  4. September 23, 2013 2:10 pm

    Geoffery Edward Hart,

    Your explanation of why you introduced the pedophile red herring comes across like it is a post-hoc rationalisation. I may be wrong. You may have been meaning this all along but since you did not explain this in you statement. Nor did you bother to quote David Marr’s statements in this regard readers will get a certain impression about your tact.

    As for tact:
    ” I suppose this is the old Christian principle that two wrongs make a right”

    You are very classy in your choice of words.

    I will leave the research into BHP and Westfield to your brilliance. I don’t know why you even plucked those two out of the air. You could mentioned state school teachers, where there is ample evidence in the USA of pedophile problem and the Scouts, who are giving evidence at the Royal Commission in Sydney.

    Then again if you have already decided who your enemy is then why would you put your effort into this thing called objective evidence. Prejudices are much easier.


    • September 23, 2013 2:27 pm

      I just referred to a couple of large rich corporations where there has been no hint of paedophilia. The Catholic Church has already paid $3 billion damages in America and the sorry story has been told by father Richard A W Sipe, Jason Berry and of course the Doyle Mouton report together with a book put out by the Boston Globe. There was also a wonderful book by Geoffrey Robertson which you should read. We have practices such as putting documents in the Papal Nucio’s possession so as to claim diplomatic immunity. I’m sure the scouts honourably mentioned as well, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned with the culture of secrecy where crime is suppressed. When I hear about protocols I can’t help feeling why don’t they pick up the telephone and tell the police force about complaints and prosecute these people. And worry about your protocols later on. As for the Boy Scouts I was never allowed to join them in the 50s because of their notorious reputation then. But I hardly see how their activities can mitigate the problem of paedophilia amongst the clergy. I in fact was molested at a Presbyterian Methodist school though not seriously. Hands up the pants but no further. Even the Anglican Church is represented, but doesn’t seem to be to the same extent as in the Catholic Church in any way Anglicans are heretics.


      • September 23, 2013 2:44 pm

        Geoffrey Edward Hart

        I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have all day to chew the fat with some who clearly does not care to read what I wrote in the original post and wants to go off on all manner of tangents.

        Unfortunately I do not have that sort of time. So rather than waste each others time with a bunch of “He said/She said” crap I will be brief.

        You spent an awful lot of words hastily making a whole lot of unsubstantiated accusations.
        This is what David Marr is accused of doing in his Quarterly Essay.
        Everything other than that is just noise.


  5. September 23, 2013 2:59 pm

    What I don’t think the works of Richard AW Sipe are unsubstantiated. He has been both a priest and a psychiatrist and has treated over 1000 paedophile priests in the USA. His books are available through Amazon as are those of Jason Berry. You can go to websites like SNAP and see the works of David Clohessy just Google David Clohessy SNAP and you will get the picture. David’s brother was a Catholic priest in a paedophile.

    What I thought was at issue is whether David Marr was an unfair bigot – I think he is simply concentrating on something that needs to be resolved. This has been a problem in the making since the 1990s when it was first broadcast by Donohoe though of course the problem goes back much further than that. So I don’t think David Marr should be criticised for bringing attention to this issue.
    I think anyone who loves the Catholic Church should be more concerned to investigate the matter fully, get rid of the paedophile priests and restore the credibility of one of the central institutions to the Western tradition. This is not an occasion to defend the tribe, it’s an occasion to investigate the matter fully and openly


    • September 23, 2013 3:46 pm

      Geoffrey Edward Hart,
      Are you still on this pedophile thing?
      It is starting come off like a bit of a fetish.

      If that is all you want to talk about?
      Set up your own blog and go nuts.

      I sure it will attract all sorts of like minded people who fawn over all the same people you assert are authorities. And everyone will write to each other about they all agree with each other and pat each other on the back for being so smart. It will go next similar intellectual greatness like sites set up to claim that all Police are corrupt because some are and why all teachers are ignorant because some are. Then we talk about how one bad apple ruins the whole barrel.

      Here is an idea. Why not read the post I wrote above? Then respond to what was actually written.

      Everything else is just noise.


  6. September 23, 2013 4:04 pm

    Some police are corrupt and that’s why we have royal commissions: See New South Wales Woods commission, Queensland Fitzgerald commission. Some institutions are corrupt and that’s why we have royal commissions. That gives us evidence. If you think any my comments are inaccurate I invite you to direct me to websites or literature to that effect so that I can become better informed. I’m only quoting people from within the church such as Richard AW Sipe is a Catholic, father Doyle of the Doyle Mouton report is a Catholic(Dominican priest), Jason Berry is a Catholic. David Marr has expressed some concern and I don’t regard him as odd in that respect.This sad story does not call for pats on the back. It calls for a Royal commission to get to the bottom of what’s been happening and what has been concealed


    • September 23, 2013 4:14 pm

      Geoffrey Edward Hart

      More about pedophiles. But nothing about what I wrote in my post.

      Get some professional help.

      Better still, learn to read.


  7. September 23, 2013 4:21 pm

    I thought the problem was whether David Marr had anti-Catholic bias. He has drawn attention to the paedophile issue on television this morning. This is surely is probative as to whether he has such a bias or whether he’s making accurate statements in the public interest. As for reading could you please cite a few books or websites so that we can gain access to things that you know?


    • September 23, 2013 4:30 pm

      You really do lack a lot of self awareness.
      David Marr is hardly a person I would go to for reliable reporting.
      It seems to me that he often has a guilty verdict and is willing to invent evidence to suit.

      Perhaps you should familiarise yourself with his sudden rewriting of the events around the so “Punch” allegations.

      Journalist Gerard Henderson has documented his sudden unexplained changes in the second pressing of the “Quarterly Essay.”


  8. September 23, 2013 4:38 pm

    I don’t agree with what David Marr said about Tony Abbott, but I do think that he is correct in his television interview this morning about the way the Australian Catholic Church has handled paedophilia.
    I don’t particularly see the need to psychoanalyse him or worry about his awareness all we have to examine is what he has to say. Seems a bit ad hominem to me to do otherwise


    • September 23, 2013 4:49 pm

      I did not see Marr this morning so I cannot comment.

      My post was written in 2012 soon after Marr produced his polemic in the Quarterly Essay.

      Marr was trying to insinuate that Tony Abbott was a thug who has a problem with women and is some kind of Vatican agent.
      As show by the quotes above Marr has a sneering for anything catholic.

      Whether he has an opinion about the catholic church or not is his business. However his track records of being accurate is not good.
      What I find more disturbing is that very few people are willing to hold David Marr to account when makes some absolute blunders.


  9. September 23, 2013 5:01 pm

    Mea culpa I was looking for the essay his written about paedophilia on the web. Instead I landed on your site – skim read it and thought the issue was anti-Catholicism. No I don’t agree with anything he says about Tony Abbott who I’ve never met though his sister was in a class of mine in 1983. Tony Abbott always struck me as a very decent man, A bit of a jock, but that’s not a crime against humanity – but I don’t need to psychoanalyse his opponents to work that out.

    You should perhaps look at his subsequent essay and perhaps I’ve done you an injustice by ranting on about paedophilia when it wasn’t your issue. I certainly think he is quite accurate in that regard in respect of what he said today


    • September 23, 2013 5:10 pm

      Geoffrey Edward Hart,
      No harm done if you have picked up something useful.

      I do understand that David Marr was planning to write his next Quarterly Essay about Cardinal Pell.
      I am not sure when it is coming out.
      However I do know that after seeing that hatchet job Marr did on Abbott, Pell would be mad to co-operate with Marr.



  1. Is David Marr being paid to write hatchet jobs on his ideological enemies? | My Apologetics
  2. George Pell and trial by Media | My Apologetics

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