“Well, you have been picked for Australia; go like most Australians and Australian teams and give it your very best.”
|FAMILY MAN: John McCarthy alongside his mother Eileen (left) and members of his family, including his wife Christine (centre) at the reception held in his honour at Cathedral House. Photos: Damir Govorcin
These were the words “a person who has represented Australia in a sporting capacity said to me”, said John McCarthy QC, Australia’s new Ambassador to the Holy See.
“And that’s certainly what I intend to do.
“And I have a far idea as to what parts of a ‘very best’ might amount to.”
Mr McCarthy was addressing family, friends, papal knights, bishops, priests, sisters, justices and members of Federal and State Parliament who gathered for a reception at Cathedral House on Friday, 20 July to honour his appointment and farewell him and his wife Christine on their journey to Rome.
“It is always a privilege and an honour to be called on to represent your country,” he said.
“I am thankful to our Government for the opportunity to represent Australia in this important role in this great place, and to be able to go with Christine to the Eternal City and to have the occasion, opportunity and the presence of the Holy Father to put Australia’s case and to represent my country in that way.”
Mr McCarthy paid tribute his predecessor, Tim Fischer, for the way in which “he has presented Australia, presented this role as a part of Australia’s international presence and position”.
“And the way in which he explained what was happening in Rome, particularly in the context of the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross in 2010,” he said.
“Tim Fischer is a benchmark; he is also a challenge. There are some challenges I will not take up. I will never compete with Tim about trains and about the range of hats that I may have.
“However, I do hope to follow him in being able to put to the dicasteries and congregations of the Holy See, positions that Australia has on human rights, inter-faith dialogue, food security, peace in our world and region, all areas in which the Holy See has influence.
“I am on a 90-degree learning curve, I learn more every day. Ambassadors to the Holy See go back into the fable of time. The journey I undertake for Australia is the oldest continuous political journey in the world and in history.”
“It goes back to the fourth century of the Christian era.”
Among those in attendance were the Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell, the Governor, Prof Marie Bashir, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Bishops David Walker, Julian Porteous and Terry Brady, Mons Bill Mullins, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith, Johno Johnson, former president of the NSW Legislative Council, Federal Minister Tony Burke, former State Minister John Aquilina and Terry Tobin, chancellor of Notre Dame University Australia.
Cardinal Pell said the gathering was a tribute to Mr McCarthy, a “devout and fine Catholic” whose wife and six children, have “made a very significant contribution in all sorts of different ways to Catholic life in Sydney”.