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Father Paul Gardiner SJ: A long journey.

Author: Margaret Muller

Publisher: Penola: Mary MacKillop Penola Centre, 2016

ISBN: 978064695768

Paperback, 104 pages, $20

Note by James Franklin (*)

Fr Paul Gardiner is best known as Postulator of the cause of Mary MacKillop in the 1980s and 1990s. He came to that task on superiors' orders at the age of 59, with little previous experience in that kind of work. As historical work goes, showing someone is a saint has the unique difficulty that in addition to establishing positive virtues, it is necessary to prove a negative--that no unsavoury details are going to emerge. That is especially difficult when one's subject has fought with church authorities and been excommunicated (even if with doubtful validity). Gardiner's energy in reviving the cause of canonisation after decades of stop-start progress and documents "lost" in Vatican archives paid off. His work was crowned by MacKillop's beatification in 1995, which laid the ground for her canonisation in 2010.

Gardiner's earlier work was mostly academic in seminaries and schools, with occasional pastoral work. His main fields were classics and philosophy, his doctoral thesis being on 'The coming of Greek philosophy to the Western world'. Like many teachers of philosophy in the old style, he regretted what happened after Vatican II. Muller writes "Towards the end of his ten-year tenure at Loyola, Paul detected in his students a diminishing dedication to serious intellectual study and an increasing lack of interest in the solid and tried Philosophia Perennis--the Wisdom of the Ages--which he felt was no longer as highly prized by some as it has once been."

Muller was able to interview Gardiner before his death and her account of his life is lively and accompanied by many useful photos.

An obituary of Fr Gardiner by Roderick O'Brien is included in this issue.

(*) James Franklin is the editor of the .

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Author:Franklin, James
Publication:Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2017
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