MORAN, Patrick Francis (1830-1911)


MORAN, Patrick Francis (1830-1911)
cardinal, archbishop of Sydney
was born at Leighlinbridge, Ireland, on 16 September 1830, the only son of Patrick Moran and his wife Alice, a sister of Cardinal Cullen. Both of his parents died before he was 10 years old, and in 1842 he was taken by his uncle to Rome and educated at the Irish College of St Agatha. He was appointed vice-rector of the Irish college, and professor of Hebrew. College of the Propaganda, Rome, in 1856. In 1861 he published his Memoirs of the Most Rev. Oliver Plunket, largely compiled from manuscripts preserved in the archives of Rome, which was followed by his Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland, in 1862. Two years later appeared his Essays on the Origin Doctrines and Discipline of the Early Irish Church, and his History of the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin. From 1866 to 1872 he was private secretary to Cardinal Cullen at Dublin, and during this period prepared and published his Lectures on the Temporal Sovereignty of the Holy See (1868). He was also professor of scripture at Clonliffe College. In 1872 he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Ossory, and a few months later succeeded to the see. His predecessor, infirm and old, had lost his grip of the diocese, and Moran realized at once the opportunities for improvement in its conduct. He introduced the Sisters of Mercy into Irish workhouses, established industrial schools for boys and girls, completed the chancel of the cathedral at Kilkenny, founded a public library, and by his firmness and energy put new life into the whole diocese. Though the youngest of the Irish bishops he secured the confidence of the heirarchy. His great knowledge of Ireland and its history led to his being consulted by W. E. Gladstone when he was considering his home rule bill. In 1884 Archbishop Vaughan (q.v.) of Sydney died suddenly and Moran was chosen to succeed him. He arrived at Sydney on 8 September 1884 and had a great reception.
Of Moran's predecessors Polding (q.v.) had been a great missionary and Vaughan (q.v.) a great preacher. Their Church had many difficulties in the early days, and it had taken many years to find its due place in the community. There had been much sectarian feeling but it was on the whole tending to die down, and the time had come when a good organizer could do much to consolidate the position. Moran arrived full of energy and lost no time in getting to work. He made one mistake at the beginning, which was so little forgotten that his successor thought it necessary to explain it at the time of Moran's death. His predecessor Archbishop Vaughan died in England and there was a feeling in Sydney in which Vaughan's family shared, that his body should be brought to Sydney. Moran decided this was not necessary, and his curt final letter to Herbert Vaughan, afterwards Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, seemed scarcely worthy of him. (See H. N. Birt, Benedictine Pioneers in Australia, vol. II, p. 465). But Moran, like lesser men, had the defects of his qualities, he was accustomed to making decisions and sticking to them, and in this case could not bring himself to change his views. A few months later the see of Dublin became vacant, Moran was called to Rome and it was thought likely that he would be given this position. Dr Walsh was, however, appointed and Moran was created a cardinal. Soon after his return he visited all the dioceses in New Zealand, and in 1887 he travelled to Perth to consecrate Dr Gibney. In 1888 he again visited Rome and was then invited to go to Dublin to receive the freedom of the city. In addition to his work at Sydney he found time to visit in the following years Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Hobart, Goulburn, Lismore, Melbourne and Rockhampton for the consecration of their respective cathedrals. Between 1890 and 1900 he published Occasional Papers (1890), Letters on the Anglican Reformation and Other Papers (1890), History of the Catholic Church in Australasia (1894), and The Catholics of Ireland and the Penal Laws in the Eighteenth Century (1899). He took much interest in social questions, and at the time of the maritime strike in 1890 listened with sympathy to a deputation from the strikers and advised them. His general attitude was that capital and labour must each respect the others rights. A passionate lover of Ireland he was earnest in his advocacy of home rule. He was not, however, opposed to Great Britain, supported Dalley (q.v.) when the contingent was sent to the Sudan, and in later years, spoke appreciatively of King Edward VII. He took the statesmanlike view that Australia must be prepared to defend herself, and was a force for federation at a time when there was much difference of opinion in New South Wales. Sir Henry Parkes speaking in the New South Wale, parliament in November 1894 paid him a striking tribute: "There is another person, who is an entire stranger to me, and, I should think, a gentleman who has no very high opinion of me, whose services I should acknowledge. Of all the voices on this question, no voice has been more distinct, more full of a worthy foreshadowing of the question's greatness and more fraught with a clear prescience of what is likely to come as the result of federation, than the voice of this eminent prelate." (B. R. Wise, The Making of the Australian Commonwealth, p. 204.) Moran spoke with effect at the people's federal convention held at Bathurst in 1896, and was a candidate for the federal convention held in 1897. He polled well but was not elected.
Moran did not allow these questions to interfere with his main work, the administration of his Church in New South Wales. He raised much money for the building of St Mary's cathedral, on which over £100,000 was spent in his time, and a further £40,000 was received towards the amount required for its completion. Educational facilities both primary and secondary were much increased, and he has a lasting monument in the 32 charitable institutions established by him. These include the home for aged and destitute at Randwick; St Vincent's home and industrial school for boys; the home and industrial school for girls at Manly; asylum and school for the blind, Lewisham; asylum for mental invalids at Ryde; hospital for women and children at Lewisham; Mater Misericordiae hospital, North Sydney; St Joseph's hospital, Auburn; the foundling hospital, Waitara; St Joseph's orphanage, Kincumber; Sisters of St Joseph orphanage, Lane Cove; St Martha's industrial school, Leichhardt; St Anne's orphanage, Liverpool; St Brigid's orphanage at Ryde; St Magdalen's retreat, Tempe; Mater Misericordiae home, Church Hill; hospice for the dying, Darlinghurst; home for female blind, Liverpool and Mt Magdala retreat, Redfern. Another important work was his great ecclesiastical college at Manly for the training of the priesthood. He continued to do a certain amount of writing, among his later works being The Mission Field in the Nineteenth Century (1900), The Three Patrons of Erin (1905), The Priests and People of Ireland (1905). Working to the end he died suddenly at Sydney after a short illness on 16 August 1911, and was buried in the vault of St Mary's cathedral.
Moran was a strict yet kindly disciplinarian, and a great fighter for his Church and for education. He was a forthright speaker, but scarcely a good preacher, and in his later years his voice lost carrying power. He was an able though sometimes impulsive controversialist, a vigorous and scholarly writer, though his poorly-edited History of the Catholic Church in Australasia scarcely does him justice in spite of its wealth of information. Most of his books have been mentioned, others were: Acta S. Brendani (1872), Irish Saints in Great Britain (1879), Spiciligium Ossoriense . . . Letters and Papers Illustrative of the History of the Irish Church, 3 series (1874-84). To these may be added many short pamphlets and articles in Reviews, and he also edited Monasticum Hibernicum (1871 etc.), and Pastoral Letters of Cardinal Cullen (1882).
The Catholic Encyclopaedia, vol. XIV; The Catholic Who's Who, 1911; Who's Who, 1911; The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 1911; The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 17 August 1911; Eris O'Brien, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XXVIII, pp. 1-28.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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