The Church in Australia


Rev. Dr Christopher Dowd OP
Not offered in 2019

This unit will explore the history of the Catholic Church in Australia. It will examine the foundation of the Church in Australia, and its development through its lay beginnings, early Benedictine leadership and the rise of the Irish hierarchy. Among key issues studied will be the influence of sectarianism, the Church in the political environment and the influence of the religious orders in the Church’s stance regarding education. Some attention will also be given to the Anglican, Protestant and Eastern Churches as part of the overall advance of Christianity in Australia. The unit will look at the changing role of the churches and religion in Australian society and examine the significance of church architecture, relations with indigenous cultures and the impact of migration.




3 hours per week


one 1,000-word seminar paper   20%
one 4,000-word essay   50%
one 1-hour documents examination (1,000 words)   30%


  • Breward, Ian. A History of the Churches in Australasia. The Oxford History of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 
  • Campion, Edmund. Australia’s Catholics: The Contribution of Catholics to the Development of Australian Society. Melbourne: Viking, 1987. 
  • Dowd, Christopher. Rome in Australia: The Papacy and Conflict in the Australian Catholic Missions, 1834-1884. Study in the History of Christian Traditions. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 2008. 
  • Duncan, Bruce F. Crusade or Conspiracy? Catholics and the anti-Communist Struggle in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2001.
  • Molony, John. The Roman Mould of the Australian Catholic Church. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969.
  • Niall, Brenda. Mannix. Melbourne: Text Publishing Company, 2015. 
  • O’Donoghue, Frances. The Bishop of Botany Bay: The Life of John Bede Polding: Australia’s First Catholic Archbishop. London: Angus & Robertson, 1982. 
  • O’Farrell, Patrick. The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian History. 3rd ed. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1992.
  • ———, ed. Documents in Australian Catholic History. 2 vols. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1969. 
  • Turner, Naomi. Catholics in Australia: A Social History. 2 vols. North Blackburn: Collins Dove, 1992.