Santamaria book to inspire new leaders: archbishop

24 Sep 2008

By The Record

Perth Archbishop hopes new collection of BA Santamaria’s writings will inspire new leaders.                



By Anthony Barich
Archbishop Barry Hickey hopes that a new collection of the late political activist Bob Santamaria’s writings will inspire young leaders to reform the social order.
Launching BA Santamaria: Running the Show in the Alexander Library Theatrettes at the Perth Cultural Centre on September 10, the Archbishop said that Santamaria’s aim to form leaders behind whom a large following would gather was a concise summary of Catholic Social Teaching:
“It is my honest belief that unless Catholic Action genuinely aims at the creation of a Christian social order by means of large scale action into social, political and cultural spheres, we are wasting our time,” Santamaria said (p48), as quoted by Archbishop Hickey.
The book details Santamaria’s voluminous correspondence, papers, speeches and other writngs.
The Archbishop said that Santamaria was dismissive of the view that the good and charitable actions of individuals could change society or alter the social order to any degree.
The focus of Santamaria’s work was the organisations he headed and worked for: Catholic Action, the National Catholic Rural Movement, the Catholic Social Movement, the Movement itself and the National Civic Council.
“His vocation, if you like, was to respond to the issues of his day in the light of his faith and the dictates of his conscience enlightened by his faith,” Archbishop Hickey said.
“Santamaria’s early life coincided with the development of the Catholic Church’s social teaching, outlined in a string of profound and influential Papal encyclicals which called on lay people particularly to be active in society to influence policy and social institutions.”
While “the world has changed” and “time throws up ever new challenges with even greater complexity requiring different methods and deeper understanding”, the Archbishop said that the basic vision remains – that well-formed leaders generate the momentum for social change.
“Perhaps this book will inspire young leaders formed in Christian principles to follow Bob Santamaria’s example in analysing the present situation, inspire others to join with him and, with a sufficient number of bishops to back them, go to work,” Archbishop Hickey said.
“Is the task of reforming the social order too difficult? Bob would be the first to say no.”
Archbishop Hickey added that the drama in the collection of Santamaria’s writings is “irresistible”.
“We are dealing not just with a remarkable man but with the world of Church, politics and ideologies in which he lived and which called on all his energy and vision,” the Archbishop said.