Using the “republic” in an opinion poll is not of much use unless the republican model is described.  Nor is there much sense in someone saying, often under the pressure of elite fashion, that of course, they are a republican.  Two comments by one of Australia’s most formidable Catholic clergymen, Cardinal Moran demonstrate the imprecision of this Humpty-Dumpty word.  They are to be found, I am delighted to say, in Philip Ayres’ excellent new biography, Prince of the Church, Patrick Francis Moran, 1830-1911, (Melbourne University Press, 2007) which I mentioned in this column on19 July, 2007.

First, at page 188, His Eminence said “I regard our colonial administration, linked as it is to the Crown of Great Britain, as the most perfect form of republican government. It has all the freedom which a republican government imparts, and it is free from many of the unpleasant influences to which, in the United States, an elected head of a republic is subject.”  And at page 195 he says: “Nothing is more ambiguous than the word Republic, as used in modern times. It is generally supposed to be a synonym of Liberty, and yet nowhere will you find Liberty so crushed and such vexatious tyranny exercised as in some of the so-called Republics. The Constitutional Government which we enjoy in these colonies is in the truest sense a Republic. There is no country in the world where greater liberty is enjoyed by the citizens.”