Catholic Standard

Welcome to the Catholic Standard.  The official publication of the Archdiocese of Hobart.

The Catholic Standard is the official print publication of the Catholic Church in Tasmania. Produced monthly, the Catholic Standard reports on local, national, and international issues of importance to the Catholic Church and community.

It also communicates the diversity and richness of the Archdiocese as a living community; and includes stories and news from Tasmanian parishes, Tasmania’s Catholic Education sector, CatholicCare Tasmania, Centacare Evolve Housing, Blueline Laundry and from the broader and significant Catholic business and services sector.

“The Catholic Standard communicates the richness and variety of Catholic life in Tasmania. It is a valued source of interesting information and inspiration to the Tasmanian Catholic community.”

Archbishop Julian Porteous.

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First published in July, 1867, the major publication of the Archdiocese of Hobart has undergone various incarnations and name changes over the years.

Originally a newspaper entitled The Tasmanian Catholic Standard, it underwent a number of name and format changes including The Catholic Herald (1872-1873), The Catholic Magazine (1916-1920), The New Standard (1977-1994) and Tasmanian Catholic (2005-early 2014).

In 2014 the Catholic Standard returned from a magazine to a newspaper format while expanding the reach of the Archdiocese’s digital media presence.Archbishop Julian says that the newspaper format is an important means of communication for Tasmanian Catholics.“I’ve always believed that even though we’re in a time of much change in the whole area of communications and media, that there still is a place for newspapers,” His Grace said.

“One of the things I’m hoping is that the Catholic Standard would be a way that Catholics could be kept in touch with the activities around the diocese and be encouraged by seeing so many of the good things that are happening.”

Archbishop Porteous says that returning to a newspaper was done with the intention of having several media platforms on which to publish content.

“While we have the Catholic Standard, we also have the Archdiocesan website, we also have the Archdiocesan Facebook page and my own Facebook page,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Hobart also publishes a digital version of the Catholic Standard, creates video content for its YouTube channel, and publishes audio podcasts to its SoundCloud account; all of which are freely available.

“We haven’t just gone backwards to say, ‘Well let’s just do what was done 150 years ago.’ We’re saying that we need to keep a newspaper format, but in conjunction with other media dimensions,” His Grace said.

“This a 21st century approach to communications, which is multifaceted.”

Celebrating 150 years of Tasmanian Catholic press

On 20 July 1867 ‘Vol. I. – No. 1.’ of The Tasmanian Catholic Standard was published. This new journal was, the editor enthused, something the Catholics of Tasmania have long wanted and much needed.

‘Living in the midst of a community divided into various religious sects, who either know not their tenets, or have false notions of them, Catholics become objects of the strongest prejudice, and very frequently the bitterest hostility manifests itself against their Church’ – or so explained commentary in the first edition.

The Standard hoped to combat such external antipathy, but also sought to drive off what some saw as apathy within the Catholic community towards religious matters. The earliest Tasmanian Catholic press was, therefore, a means of offering ‘reading, information, and facts’, all geared towards inculcating a sense of ‘the eternal principles of truth, justice, and religion.’ In other words, the founding of the Standard marks an attempt to move from simple tribalism to a more thinking and nuanced form of spiritual community.

While there have been interruptions since – including differing theological flavours and intellectual qualities – the Catholic press proved one of the great cultural achievements of the Colony and State of Tasmania. The hundreds of old pages remain a repository of a great deal of historical information and sometimes wisdom.

Rather than starting with Tasmania, however, the opening page of this new endeavour was wholly filled by a report from Rome dated April 1867 describing the Easter Ceremonies. This article was taken from The Tablet, an English publication which is still going strong today. Coincidentally, The Tablet itself had a Tasmanian origin of sorts. The Tablet was founded by a Quaker convert to Catholicism, Frederick Lucas, who was encouraged towards his conversion by another convert, Thomas Chisolm Anstey, son of a wealthy Tasmanian settler. Young Anstey’s conversion paralleled that of a neighbour and friend of his father, Roderick O’Connor, who donated £10,000 towards the construction of St Mary’s Cathedral.

Anstey was also likely encouraged towards Catholicism by a regular traveller in the midlands in his youth, and occasional visitor to the Anstey household, one Fr Philip Conolly who first occupied land by Harrington and Patrick Streets in Hobart for the Catholic Church. As it so happened, the first death notice in the first Standard was for Catherine Aherne, Fr Conolly’s sister, and elsewhere in that first edition the paper reported commemorations of the one-year anniversary of the death of Bishop Robert William Willson, and printed Willson’s last letter to his Tasmanian flock from Nottingham.

The early Tasmanian Catholic community was thus demonstrably part of a wide-reaching spiritual community, even if the proof was a little convoluted, and in July 1867 the full effect of a local press yet to be seen.

Dr Nicholas Brodie