Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Pell to usurp control of Sacred Heart church

'The silence from the Archdiocese is deafening,' says Laelie Schwartz, who is fighting to save her Oxford Street Church from being converted into a six-storey medical school run by a Catholic university.

'Fr. Brian Egan's official tenure as Parish Priest expired on October 28 and at present has not been renewed,' says Ms Schwartz, who fears that if he is removed, the Parish committee will be dissolved and Archbishop George Pell would install an Administrator.

That would remove any obstacle in canon law to the development plans, which would normally require the consent of the Parish Priest. A tame administrator would do Pell's bidding.

A wide community movement has developed to oppose the plans, including local resident groups, councillors from the City and Woollahra and local heritage societies. Their immediate goal is to have the site listed on the Heritage Register with the Sydney City council.

Apart from the heritage aspects, some are claiming that the Notre Dame University is homophobic in its teachings, and the project has more to do with George Pell's right-wing ideology.

Ms Schwartz questions the bona fides of the plans, which include commercial leasehold fronting Oxford St. 'Leaked information says that Notre Dame is in some financial difficulty and is already in debt to the tune of $15m, and that it is impossible to build a medical school for a mere $13m as claimed.'

'The real figure is about $250m with professors, lecturers and a minimum staff of about 100 persons. On the Sacred heart site it is impossible,' she said.

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