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Teachers' 'Christ' role model status highlighted

Catholic school principals and teachers are the only 'Christ' figure most Catholic students will ever meet, an Australian Catholic University (ACU) professor told a conference on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

Associate Professor Denis McLaughlin, who lectures in Catholic educational leadership at ACU's McAuley campus in Brisbane, said due to age and consequent availability, few young people had ever consulted a priest on any matter.

He added that the current sexual abuse controversy had likewise tarnished the clergy's leadership authenticity in the eyes of the largely non-practising Catholic population.

Prof McLaughlin was addressing the second national conference of the Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools of Australia at Coolangatta.

"By default, it is the principal, the assistant principal (religious education) and other approachable teachers, who have been given the unofficial leadership of local Catholic communities," Prof McLaughlin said.

"They are the only God/Church person, the vast majority of Catholics ever meet regularly and the evidence is that Catholic kids do find some religious meaning not in parishes, but in Catholic schools."

Catholic Leader

Australian Catholic University McAuley Campus

14 Oct 2002