Alumni criticise Opus Dei schools’ ‘deplorable behaviour’

Si Gladman / 30 March 2023

A group of former students who raised concerns about Opus Dei schools as part of an ABC investigation say many more alumni have come forward with similar allegations since the show went to air in January.

In an newly published Open Letter to the Principals of the conservative Catholic sect schools published online, the group of alumni also criticised the Sydney schools’ operator, the Pared Foundation, for “deplorable behaviour” since the airing of the Four Corners program titled ‘Purity: An Education in Opus Dei’.

“Since the airing of the Four Corners episode, we have received many more testimonies from alumni voicing the same concerns. These span a period of almost 40 years, demonstrating a continuation of systemic issues from the foundations of the Pared schools through to the present day,” the letter says.

The alumni accuse Pared of failing to take steps to address the issues raised in the program.

The letter says Pared or the individual schools involved have not yet offered an apology or showed remorse in public or private “for the suffering” inflicted on the former students who spoke out.

“Rather than engage with the allegations – severe enough to warrant a [New South Wales Education Standards Authority] investigation – Pared has falsely framed our concerns as an attack on the Catholic faith and political smear campaign,” the letter says.

“While claiming to be open to feedback of all kinds, in the days following the episode Pared schools systematically removed negative commentary from their social media and Google pages. If the schools are genuine in their interest to respond to feedback and prioritise student wellbeing, they will accept accountability and take steps to address the issues raised by former students.”

The letter further details concerns raised in the Four Corners episode, including the teaching of non-curriculum subjects that undermine curriculum materials, insufficient and inaccurate sex education, entrenched homophobia and transphobia, glorification of self-harm and a culture of silencing.

The alumni also criticise Pared for its alleged routine efforts to “misrepresent” and “minimise” the schools’ connections with Opus Dei in public statements. 

“In 2022, our group of alumni approached NESA who dismissed our complaints on the grounds that we needed to take them up with the schools themselves. However, as we have all experienced the negative repercussions of raising concerns with our mentors, teachers and principals while we attended the schools, we knew that this would prove fruitless,” the letter says.

“Sadly, Pared’s deplorable behaviour in these past few weeks has only confirmed this.”

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Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash.

All the more reason.