Melbourne Catholic Education in "cultural standoff", critic claims

The Melbourne Catholic Education system is now facing a "cultural standoff" after the previous leadership was disbanded and a former politician installed as acting director, Melbourne priest Fr Eric Hodgens claims.

In an article in Online Catholics today, Fr Hodgens says that the "makeover" of the Melbourne Catholic Education, which is the country's fourth largest education system after the state systems of NSW, Queensland and Victoria, is "now almost complete" and the leadership team "disbanded".

Former Director of Melbourne Catholic Education, had resigned earlier after being "sidelined" while the Deputy Directors, Fr Brendan Reed and Vincent McPhee had their jobs "dissolved", Fr Hodgens writes.

The top position is now held by Stephen Elder who was former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett's Parliamentary Secretary for Education from 1996-1999.

"Having lost his seat in the 1999 elections he was given a Liberal Party job in Canberra under David Kemp - Minister for Education in the Howard Government. In 2001 [former Catholic Education director] Mgr Doyle gave him a position in the Melbourne CEO," Fr Hodgens says.

"Poor communication and absence of transparency has characterised this whole Catholic Education saga since it began with the sacking of the Victorian Catholic School Association at the end of December 2005," he says.

"The bishop whose deliberation and decision is questioned is angry and affronted. Those affected by his decision feel angry and abused. Look at the never-ending mess created by the USA and Irish bishops over their mishandling of clergy paedophilia."

"The result is a cultural standoff," Fr Hodgens says.

As result, Catholic Education leadership "lacks expertise and experience in key areas including, ironically, the one which receives most lip service from the hierarchy - religious education," Fr Hodgens concludes.

Cultural standoff
(Catholics Online, 8/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Melbourne

Resignation ignites controversy over Catholic Education shake-up (CathNews, 19/9/06)

8 Nov 2006