It is unfair of Dr Barr (December-January AD2000) to characterise Richard Egan's analysis of the 2003 Social Justice Statement as a "thoughtless reaction". If he were aware of Richard Egan's social justice record regarding refugees and defence of the unborn he may have been less critical. In any case, how can Dr Barr agree with the thrust of the critique and yet conclude that it is "thoughtless"?
The two points he takes issue with can be easily settled. Dr Barr calls Keith Windschuttle in his support. However, a reading of Windschuttles's devastating book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History gives support to Egan's assessment. Windschuttle points out firstly: "The British colonisation of this continent was the least violent of all Europe's encounters with the New World. It did not meet any organised resistance. Conflict was sporadic rather than systematic. Some mass killings were committed by both sides but they were rare and isolated events where the numbers of dead were in the tens rather than the hundreds. The notion of sustained 'frontier warfare' is fictional."
Next, in correcting the wrong retelling of an account by the former Governor-General Sir William Deane, Windschuttle states: "Rather than an example of what Deane has called our 'diminished nation', the tale he told about Mistake Creek is just one more of the many myths and legends now routinely recounted as historical fact".
Neither of these statements was addressed in the Bishops' Statement.
Turning to the second point, it is not too difficult to show the Muslim record of conquest and conversion by the sword. During the Pope's visit to Syria in May 2001 L'Osservatore Romano (9 May 2001) listed the stages of the forced turning of that country from Christianity to Islam. In 722 AD there were 3.8 million Christians out of a population of 4 million; but by 1350 there were only 100,000 Christians left.
As a senior member of the Australian Family Association, Richard Egan has co-operated with Muslim pro-life and pro-family groups at the UN by means of the World Congress of Families which at its 1999 Meeting was addressed by the widow of President Sadat of Egypt who was assassinated by fundamentalists.
No country is perfect but if one reads the history of the Catholic Church in the Kimberley in From Patrons to Partners, commissioned by Bishop Jobst (Bishop Saunder's predecessor), one gets a much more balanced view of our treatment of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.
JOHN R. BARICH