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Benedictine Nightmare, 1851–1860

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Chapter Summary

The 1846–1847 visit of John Bede Polding to Rome had been vaguely unsatisfactory despite its gains but his next encounter with the papacy was catastrophic. This encounter was not a direct one but occurred through the medium of his Vicar General, Henry Gregory, whom he dispatched to Rome in March 1851 to present a major report on the state of the Australian mission and to mount a concerted campaign to secure papal approval for the central component of his strategy, a formal integration in perpetuity of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Benedictine Order. Following the Roman rejection of a perpetual Benedictine succession in Sydney, Gregory tried to promote the next best scenario, that at least Polding's immediate successor be a monk, by suggesting that the Bishop of Maitland, Charles Davis, be thus designated. Polding insisted that religion had made great progress under the leadership of the Benedictine Order.

Keywords:Australian mission; Benedictine Order; John Bede Polding; papal approval; Sydney

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