Tuesday, 4 November 2008
In the comments of a recent post Brian mentioned the late Fr. John Hope of Christ Church St. Laurence, one of my greatest heroes. Under his leadership from 1926 to 1964 his church - one of Sydney’s few Anglo-Catholic parishes, and probably the best known - grew spectacularly, despite blatant attempts by the diocesan hierarchy to close it and distribute the assets to congregations toeing the party line. At a time when indigenous Australians were not even entitled to citizenship, and most church leaders were actively participating in the genocidal Stolen Generation policies, he donated property for the foundation of Australia’s first self-managed Aboriginal educational facility. There’s a great little biography of him on the Christ Church web site here, but my favorite anecdote about him comes from L. C. Rodd’s John Hope of Christ Church St Laurence.
Determined to do something once and for all about the “Popish superstition” at Railway Square, the belligerent Archbishop Mowll decided during a meeting in the 1940’s to attack Fr. Hope directly by asking if he was aware that “certain types” of men comprised a significant part of his congregation. “Most certainly” growled Fr. Hope in reply while looking the Archbishop directly in the eyes, “And is it not a good thing that these people so dear to our Lord have somewhere they can go?”
Priests don’t come much tougher than that. God bless him.