John Herron has been a very public Catholic all his life, as an Australian senator for 11 years, as a Howard government Aboriginal affairs minister, and as the ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See, according to the Canberra Times. .

“We’re a secular society in Australia, we’re very materialistic, and I think we’ve lost something in all of that,” he says. It’s time for some spirituality.”

Herron, who has 11 children, had some insightful and amusing words for the Pope recently:

As a World Youth Day Ambassador, he advised the Pope there were five types of Catholics in Australia, There were relapsing Catholics, who returned to the faith when stressed; and nominal Catholics, the tick-the-census-box types. There were anti-Catholic Catholics, baptised but who hate Catholicism (“There are a lot of them around,” the Pope told Herron), and smorgasbord Catholics, who take bits they like and leave those they don’t (the Pope called them “cafe Catholics”).

And then, Herron told the Pope, there are practising Catholics. “Like you and me.”

Kind of cheeky, huh?