Gatton Murders - Illegal Abortion Catholic V Protestant

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Catholic V Protestant

The Brisbane Courier Saturday 14 January 1899



Sir,-" Pardon me for asking what has become of the champions of denominational education, more particularly Mr. M. J. Kirwan." Thus your correspondent " H. O'D." in your issue of Thursday last in the opening sentence of his letter. Some weeks ago a controversy began on the education question, and the disabilities that Catholics suffer under our present system. To the best of my ability I put forward the case for Catholics, and a few days later the Rev. Father Horan's letter, far abler than mine, was published.

You, sir, have done me the honour to devote to my letter, which appeared in your issue of 24th December, a leading article in your issue of 18th December. I did not deem it necessary to reply to your letter, being quite satisfied to allow your readers to judge between us. The controversy has, however, been taken into fresh fields, and has now become a discussion on the comparative progress, spiritual and material, of Protestant versus Catholic countries, and the respective criminality of Catholics versus non-Catholics. Your correspondents "Fancy Free," "Fairplay," and "Brakespear," have all had a tilt at the Church and a few of her doctrines, and even a superficial leading of their letters is sufficient to discover the dominant keynote. For the information of your readers in general, and your correspondents in particular, I might state that I am a Queensland native, but nevertheless I shall resent and defend the Church from the malignant and slanderous attacks that are made on her, and have been made by your correspondents. I am quite prepared to defend Catholic countries and Catholics from the false allegations made against them, and your readers will please recollect that I have been practically challenged by your correspondent, and I hesitate not to accept it.

Figures have been quoted to show that in this colony the Catholics head the prison records, and this should be a reason why Catholic education should not be extended. The figures are utterly valueless for the purposes quoted, since they do not show how many of these criminals were educated in Catholic schools. Might I ask your correspondents to quote the number of Catholics and non-Catholics respectively convicted of murder, rape, unnatural offences, incest, arson, and embezzlement, and other such grave offences? Catholics may head the list for petty offences, and I might here remark that instances can be quoted of non-Catholics putting themselves down as Catholics when charged at the watch house.

For the purpose of comparing the effects of the Catholic system of education and the public school system, I will quote from the prisons reports of America, taking the United States for preference, which your correspondent "Fancy Free" has such an admiration for. Let us look at the evidence furnished by a few prison reports for 1890:-

Sing Sing Prison (New York). Went to public schools. 1403 Went to other schools. 17.

Auburn Prison (New York). Went to public schools. 545 Went to other schools. 440.

Clinton Prison. Went to public schools. 637 Went to other schools. 74.

San Quentin Prison (California). Went to public schools. 945 Went to other schools. 107.

Philadelphia State Prison (1890). Went to public schools. 382 Went to private schools. 68. Went to Catholic schools. 12 Went to no schools. 43.

Philadelphia State Prison (1891-92). Went to public schools. 700 Went to private schools. 95.

Went to Catholic school. 20 Went to no schools. 56.

It would doubtless be very instructive reading if we could get figures like this from our colonial prisons.

Now let us compare the criminal propensities of Catholic and non-Catholic countries. According to Professor Bodlo's table in "Mulhall's Dictionary of Statistics." Italy, France, Austria, Spain. Hungary, Belgium, and Ireland (Catholic) have an average of 2029 criminals per million: Germany, England, and Scotland (non-Catholic) have an average of 2735 per million. The "Church and World," an Anglican publication (1867), page 288, gives the following summary from the Statistical Society's Journal (1864-165) regarding offences against property:-


Ireland. 1 criminal in 120 of the population.

Spain, 1 criminal in 10,000 of the population.

Belgium, 1 criminal in 1700 of the population.


England, 1 criminal in 190 of the population. Saxony and Sweden, about the same.

Scotland, something worse than England.

Before going any further. I might here quote a few Protestants on the Catholic confessional, which was sneered at by one of your correspondents, "Fancy Free." The writer of "Prevention and Cure of Infanticide." a Protestant clergyman, says. "The high morality of Ireland is owing in a great measure to the habit of the people." Catholics going to confession and the low tone of morals in Scotland is, I fear, to be greatly attributed to the impossibility of having recourse to this sacramental ordinance. A Protestant writer, Cowan, in his work "Science of a New Life," referring to the great increase of foeticide in America, which had grown to such an alarming extent that an Anglican prelate had to express himself very plainly in a pastoral, says, commenting on this: "You do not hear of this horrible and revolting crime among the Roman Catholics. No; the confessional stands there as a preventive, and unless you want them to secure the upper hand in this land you will have to stop this hideous practice." The Rev. Dr. Todd says, "Abortion is infinitely more frequent among Protestants than Catholics, which is in a large measure due to the confessional."

The figures regarding illegitimacy are highly instructive, and I commend them to the serious consideration of your correspondents. Dr. Leffugwell's table shows:

Scotland, 21.5; England, 14.5; Ireland, 4.4.

The same writer contrasts the Catholic county of Mayo (Connaught) with the Protestant county of Down (Ulster): Connaught, 322 illegitimates born in ten years, 1879-1888, a percentage of 5.6 to 1000 births; Ulster, 3084 born in same period, a percentage of 51.1 per 1000 births. The "Derry (Irish) Journal." 19th March, 1894, pointed out that in Dublin one birth in forty-two was illegitimate, and in Belfast one birth in twenty-one is illegitimate.

Infanticide and foeticide flourish in Protestant countries. The Rev. Canon Humble, writing in "Church and World," 1866, says of England: "Bundles are left lying in the streets which people will not touch lest in the too familiar object a child's body should be revealed. The metropolitan canal boats are impeded as they are tracked along by numbers of drowned infants with which they come in contact, and the land is becoming defiled by the blood of innocents. We are told by Dr. Lankester that there are 12,000 women in London to whom the crime of child murder can be attributed." Dr. Waugh, writing in the "Contemporary Review," May, 1890, affirms that more than one thousand children are murdered annually in England for the insurance money." The spread of foeticide is evidenced by the number of advertisements that now appear in the Press, and recent revelations in England gave some startling information, thousands of letters from ladies having been found by the police at a certain medical institute. "We are shocked," says " Harper's Magazine," 1869, "at the destruction of human life on the Ganges, but here in the heart of Christendom foeticide and infanticide are extensively practised under the most aggravating circumstances. It should be stated, believers in the Roman Catholic faith never resort to any such practices, the strictly Americans (Protestants and other non- Catholics) are almost alone guilty of such crimes."

Speaking with reference to suicide, Mulhall says: "Suicide is much more frequent in Protestant than in Catholic countries." The following figures speak for themselves:

Catholic, Non-Catholic,

Per 100,000- Per 100,000-,

Austria, 21.2.  Saxony, 31.1. France, 15.7  Denmark, 25.8. Bavaria, 9.1. Hanover, 14.0.  

Belgium, 6. Prussia, 13.3. Ireland, 1.7,  England & Wales,6.9. Spain, 1.4. Scotland, 4.0.

I have extended my letter to greater length than I intended, but I excuse myself on the ground that it was my duty as a Catholic to vindicate my co-religionists and Catholic countries from the allegations hurled at them, and the odious comparisons made by your correspondents. Surely sufficient has now been said; but, if more is required, I can, sir, with your permission, supply a column for a week in refutation of the bald statements, many of them slanderous to a degree, and unworthy of any man who believes in British fair-play. Your   correspondents, especially "H. O'D.," have now a piece of cold steel to chew in these facts and figures, all Protestant quotations. Confronted with such testimony as this, these gentlemen will be led to think with Allison when he wrote: "These facts, to all persons capable of yielding assent to evidence in opposition to prejudice, completely settle the question; but the conclusion to which they lead is so adverse to general opinion, that probably more than one generation must descend to their graves before they are generally admitted."-I am, sir, &c, M. J. KIRWAN.