Have ‘Catholic Gut’? That’s a Good Thing

Have ‘Catholic Gut’? That’s a Good Thing
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet addresses the media in relation to poker machines in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 6, 2023. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)
Matthew Ogilvie
What is the “Catholic gut” that the now-former chief executive of Clubs NSW ascribed to New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet? It is a set of values inspired by Jesus Christ. They include faith, hope and love, a sense of fairness, an abhorrence of hypocrisy, and the imperative to stand up for what is right, even when it means confronting powerful oppressors.

Love is what motivated Perrottet’s position on gambling. “Love of neighbour” means looking after them when they can’t look after themselves, and that includes problem gamblers.

It is also the reason why the Catholic Church manages over one-quarter of the world’s healthcare facilities, many of them in underdeveloped countries.
The love of thy neighbour behind Catholic healthcare makes it ironic that those who recently protested Cardinal George Pell’s funeral forgot that the church against which they were protesting was, for some time, the only organisation providing them help when many others abandoned them.
St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney was at the forefront of AIDS treatment and care, and many people who opposed to Church teachings were compassionately cared for in a Catholic hospice.

The late Cardinal Pell epitomised the Catholic gut.

A staunch champion of Catholic moral teaching, he was also known for his personal compassion towards the poor, the exploited, and those who were alienated from the Church.
Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney presides over Easter Sunday Solemn High Mass at Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia, on April 24, 2011. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney presides over Easter Sunday Solemn High Mass at Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia, on April 24, 2011. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Faith and hope also distinguish the Catholic gut. That became very clear when Perrottet became premier.

When dealing with COVID, his baseline of faith and hope led him to open up the state of NSW, while those who didn’t share his Catholic gut were more inclined to be defensive and negative in fighting COVID.

What we saw was that the government led by a premier who embraced the Catholic gut of faith and hope worked actively towards an open society. The governments led by those without the Catholic gut, or something like it, were dominated by despair and defensiveness, and they resorted to lockdowns and lockouts.

For Human Dignity

The Catholic gut is also committed to truth and consistency. It has an abhorrence for double standards and hypocrisy.
So when a state premier recently condemned a football executive for being part of a conservative church, the Catholic gut would have suggested he not accept hospitality from an airline owned by a government that outlaws homosexuality, discriminates against women, and jails rape victims.
The Catholic gut’s passion for the truth puts it at odds with “cancel culture.”  It promotes confidence in the truth.

As John Paul II spoke of the unity of science and faith in 1996, he taught that “truth cannot contradict truth.”

Indeed as Catholic philosopher Tom Daly put it, truth isn’t afraid of critical questions, “truth is that which stands up to persistent questions.”

It’s also in the Catholic gut to uphold the human rights of all people and to stand up to oppressors when those rights are violated.

The best example is John Paul II, whose writings on human dignity are some of the best the world has seen in the past century. His words were matched by his actions through which he helped free millions from communist oppression.
Statue of Pope John Paul II near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. (Dmitry Eliuseev/CC BY 2.0)
Statue of Pope John Paul II near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. (Dmitry Eliuseev/CC BY 2.0)

Emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, is another with the Catholic gut. He bravely defies the evil regime that oppresses millions of Chinese and threatens many others.

The Catholic gut affirms the inherent dignity and value of every individual. It respects the rights of individual people and expects them to be personally free and responsible.

What Happens in the Absence of Catholic Gut?

In today’s world, we see governments that don’t share the Catholic gut. They see people not as dignified and valuable but as subjects of a state who can be used, misused or disposed of as suits the government.

Whether we look at the Chinese communists’ treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, the Victorian treatment of its own citizens, or other rights violators around the world, the Catholic gut is a good reference point to explain the ways in which those governments are wrong.

Of course, the Catholic gut is shared, in different ways, by all the great faiths of the world. At the same time, not all Catholics have upheld the Catholic gut, whether it was the corruption leading to the Reformation, the Inquisition, or the scandalous claim that the Chinese Communist Party is a model implementer of Catholic social teaching.

Despite the Church not having a monopoly on the Catholic gut, and despite the Church not always living up to its ideals, it remains that the Catholic gut is about faith, hope, love, truth, goodness, and the dignity of all human beings.

It makes one wonder why the chief executive of Clubs NSW thought it was such a bad thing.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Matthew Ogilvie, Ph.D., is an Australian-based academic and writer. For over 30 years, he has served at universities and colleges in Australia and the United States. He currently serves in leadership positions for the Western Australia State Council and the Federal Council of the Liberal Party of Australia. In his "spare time," he is a self-defense instructor and venomous snake catcher.
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