“I have been given a public microphone. How can I not use it to tell the greatest story ever—the story of Christianity.”
Greg Sheridan, the well-known Foreign Editor of The Australian, regular television political contributor, and best-selling author spoke about his “coming out” as a Catholic in the media at the 2nd Labouré Lecture at St Catherine Labouré, Gymea.
The 1 December lecture was held as part of the annual parish dinner.
Sheridan had written four books on foreign affairs, and two on other topics, but it was his two most recent books, on Christianity, that formed the basis of the lecture.
The books, entitled God is Good for You and Christians, the Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World, have sold over 30,000 copies.
The subsequent publicity has put Sheridan in the forefront as an out-spoken Catholic in the mainstream media. His lecture revealed why he made the decision to write the books, and the reactions he subsequently received.
“When I started in journalism 45 years ago, the culture was pro-Christian. If the archbishop had something to say the whole media reported it,” Sheridan said.
“Over a long period, I noticed the culture became neutral about religion. Then, in recent years, I saw the media become actively hostile towards Christianity.
“Now, I’ve been in the media for 45 years and I have this public microphone. Everyone’s having a go at Christians. So if I don’t use the opportunity to come to the defence, that’s cowardice.
“Journalism is a search for the truth and a good story. It took me 45 years to realise the most important true story is Christianity. We journalists occasionally stumble across the truth.”
He said “coming out” was a bit scary.
“I used to hedge my bets and say, I’m Catholic, but I’m not a very good one,” Sheridan said.
“Then Archbishop Fisher said to me: ‘You’re always saying you’re not a good Catholic. Why don’t you just become a good Catholic?’
“I said: ‘That’s easy for you to say, you haven’t been a journalist for 45 years!’”
In God is Good for You, Sheridan interviewed many politicians attempting to make people aware that if our nation’s leaders are Christians, then people might think it is worth a second thought.
“I interviewed Beasley, Hayden, Baird, Howard, Abbott. And Malcolm Turnbull who has a profound interest in theology,” he said.
Sheridan also revealed how he and Turnbull got some theology onto the ABC’s Q&A program.
“Malcolm and I were due to go on Q&A and Malcolm said the world’s in a bit of a state. Why don’t we instead talk about theology. So we made a bet that the first one to mention Duns Scotus [a mediaeval theologian] on the program would win a bottle of champagne.
“Now, I didn’t want to buy Malcolm a bottle of champagne so very early I said on the panel: ‘The problem with the government’s economic policy is that they explain it with all the approachability of Duns Scotus defining the Immaculate Conception.’
“Everyone on the panel nodded sagely except Malcolm who burst into uproarious laughter and the next day sent me not one, but a dozen bottles of champagne!”
Mr Sheridan assured everyone the settled bet had been declared, to avoid an ICAC inquiry.
He said there had been a bit of hostile reaction to his books, but much less than he expected.
“Some atheists have treated me kindly, like ABC broadcaster Richard Glover,” Sheridan said.
“The listeners complained to Glover about putting this pro-Christian propaganda to air.
Then the next day he scolded the listeners saying, ‘What a narrow-minded bunch of bigots you are.’
“As if anyone could accuse the ABC of being a pro-Christian propaganda movement!
“One night a fellow told me: ‘This is a very annoying book. Your prose is very annoying, full of mistakes, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve bought three copies and I’m going to send one to each person I most want to annoy.’
“I said, ‘Well, you’re doing God’s work, sir.’”
Gymea Parish Priest Fr Greg Morgan, in his vote of thanks, acknowledged Sheridan’s work.
“Mr Sheridan, a man of eloquence and humility, with faith and with reason, with wit and with intellect, has become something of a Chesterton of our time,” Fr Morgan said.
“He is a lover of the truth, a defender of the unpopular and most of all he is a witness to Christ and his church.
“And he does that in a profession he acknowledges often considers Christianity as enemy number one. Even in the face of opposition, you do it with joy.”
The 2023 Labouré Lecture, with Bishop Richard Umbers and Monica Doumit, Director, Public Affairs and Engagement for the Archdiocese of Sydney, attending as guests of honour, followed last year’s inaugural speakers, Danny and Leila Abdallah.