Welcome to the Catholic Standard
The Catholic Standard is the official 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, St Joseph Affordable Homes, 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 (1977-2005) and Tasmanian Catholic (2005-early 2014).
In 2014 the Catholic Standard returned from a magazine to a newspaper format. 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. The Tasmanian Catholic Standard, a monthly, Hobart-based paper edited by Fr William Dunne, ran for five years until subscriber arrears left it in such debt that publication ceased. Its last issue was 20 June 1872.
A short-lived replacement, the fortnightly Tasmanian Catholic Herald, was printed in Hobart between 10 August 1872 and 12 July 1873. Edited by Fr Thomas Kelsh, this also ceased publication because of debt arising from subscriber arrears.
In November 1876 the Tasmanian Catholic Standard was revived in Hobart. Labelled its ‘New Series’, the Tasmanian Catholic Standard reverted to the format and monthly editions of its predecessor. Its final uncontested issue was December 1877. With January 1878, a paper schism commenced, creating a period of rival Tasmanian Catholic papers. The Tasmanian Catholic Standard’s publisher, R. G. Fitzsimons, issued a January 1878 edition continuing the series. But he did so without the knowledge or input of the former editor, Henry Shirley, who in turn also continued the series in January 1878 with his own paper, now under the abbreviated title of the Catholic Standard.
In February, 1878, Fitzsimons’ Tasmanian Catholic Standard bore an official notice of support from the bishop of Hobart, Daniel Murphy. It continued to be published as the ‘official’ paper into the 1880s, with at least two changes of publisher, although Shirley’s rival bore a closer resemblance to the original in terms of content. The last surviving issue of the Tasmanian Catholic Standard dates to 11 May 1887. During and beyond this period, Shirley continued to publish the Catholic Standard, which succeeded in outlasting its rival by several years. Its last surviving issue dates to March 1894. In obvious response to its ‘unofficial’ status, from March 1880 the Catholic Standard carried a pontifical blessing within its banner, given after Pope Leo XIII was presented with a bound copy.
From 6 June 1891 another Catholic weekly commenced, the Morning Star of Launceston. This seemed to answer some of the previous rivalries, by bearing a banner notice that it was commended by both the Pope and the Archbishop. The Morning Star ran for approximately two and a half years, before both it and the Hobart-based Catholic Standard ceased publication with final issues in March 1894. On 7 April 1894, a new Launceston-based Catholic weekly effectively combined the two publications into one, now called the Monitor. This publication continued until 24 September 1920, when it announced that rising costs forced the cessation of printing.
Meanwhile, in Hobart a new Catholic publication emerged. During 1915 the Australian Catholic Federation, Tasmania, started issuing the A.C.F. Bulletin. In January 1916 this was replaced with monthly Catholic Magazine, which ran until December 1920. In January 1921 the Catholic Standard re-emerged, albeit now recast as Volume 1, Issue 1. Ostensibly, the new title incorporated the Catholic Magazine, although it was effectively just a re-naming exercise. With various changes in formatting and editors, the Standard maintained a five-decade run, until the costs of publication saw it cease publication again.
From October 1971 to March 1977, Tasmanian Catholic news was printed as a ‘Tasmania Edition’ of the Melbourne Advocate. Effectively, the cover sheet provided four pages of content, and issues were flown to Tasmania for weekly distribution.
In May 1977 local production and publication of a Catholic paper re-commenced with the New Standard, a Launceston-based Monthly, the first issue of which was a small single sheet paper. This series soon grew into a small paper, and ran until 1994. In 1995 the title reverted to the Standard, and continued monthly issues until 2004. In 2005, this was replaced with a glossy magazine format monthly, the Tasmanian Catholic, which itself ran until 2014, in which year the Catholic Standard was revived as a paper-format monthly.
Dr Nicholas Brodie