Institute for Religion, Politics & Society

Meet the team

Ashley Goldsworthy

Prof. Ashley W Goldsworthy


An extensive business career extending over 50 years, as a CEO, Chairman, or Director of large companies, both domestic and international, covering banking, insurance, finance, housing, construction, information technology, property development, hospitality and gaming. Past member of the Business Council of Australia. Former Director of Economic Statistics for the Australian Government.. Extensive career in information technology including World President of the International Federation for Information Processing. In 1996 the Peoples Republic of China honoured him by electing him a Fellow of the Chinese Institute of Electronics. Currently Chairman of companies in finance, education and training, information technology, and human resources. Former Dean of the School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Bond University. Past Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia. Founder of Business/Higher Education Round Table in 1990 and Past President and Executive Director.

The Influence of Catholic Social Thought in Australian Politics since Rerum Novarum
Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 is accepted as the seminal encyclical on Catholic Social Thought and the Australian federation was inaugurated ten years later. Since then both have undergone considerable transformation. Catholic Social Thought provides us with “diagnostic tools” to understand what is happening in certain situations; to understand the realities of the social situations we face.
This thesis examines the social, political and theological environment in which the Catholic Church operates in Australia and the interaction between those forces in the realm of political activities. The justification for the applicability of Catholic Social Thought to political decisions may be theological or biblical, the traditions of the Catholic Church, philosophical, common human experience, and pragmatism. The fundamental principle remains- the basic dignity of the human person. The Catholic Church is not a political activist; but Catholicism is.
Throughout the century Australian society and politics was riven by bitter sectarianism- Catholic vs non-Catholic. It infected the community. Late in the century secularism became a dominant issue. Both of these aspects raise obstacles and inevitably draw Catholicism into the political debate. The political issues examined are categorised into right–to-life, economic, and societal.
The development of Catholic Social Thought is traced through successive encyclicals and official teachings, and scholarly commentary. Examining the Australian political scene relies on an extensive literature search supported by research in media and relevant journals.
Why is this research important? Understanding the success or otherwise of the Church’s involvement in past events is valuable in discerning more effective interaction in the future. Australian society has a very secular momentum and a progressive left-wing political agenda. It becomes increasingly important for the Church to exercise effective and affective influence in bending political wills to its persuasion.
Rather taking to the barricades on single issues as they arise, perhaps Catholic Social Thought needs to develop the “consistent ethic” of Cardinal Bernardin; a platform of moral analysis as a framework within which individuals and groups could see and fight the threats posed in our societies through a seamless movement from any one issue to all others.

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