Angry archdiocesan staff dob in Archbishop

A disgruntled “serving Catholic” from the Archdiocese of Melbourne has leaked details of Archbishop Peter Comensoli’s big spend on a private residence.

The residence comes complete with an indoor pool.

The leak follows a recent announcement by the archdiocese making dozens of staff redundant.

The Australian newspaper learned that in virtually the same breath as warning his archdiocese of budget constraint, a reorientation of core functions affecting 140,000 weekly parishioners, plus staff redundancies, Comensoli spent AUD900,000 on a private country retreat.

Documents provided to the newspaper show Comensoli placed a caveat, signalli­ng ownership, on the property­ last month. He purchased it from money provided by his family, not the Church.

The documents say the property’s most recent­ listing price was $860,000 and was sold on 24 May – which was just over a week after staff and clergy were told of Comensoli’s plans to overhaul the archdiocese.

“It’s not what the church is about. Kicking out hardworking people,’’ a church figure said.

Comensoli, believed to be privately furious, declined to comment when The Australian contacted him.

The newspaper says commentators are speculating that some of Melbourne’s inner-city parishes will have to close because of financial pressures – some of which are a result of falling attendances linked to the sex abuse crisis.

It also reports that a priest from one inner-city parish says under five percent of Catholic school families attend weekend mass regularly – a matter he has brought up with the children’s parents.

An archdiocesan spokesman says while there are some challenges, there are areas in Melbourne where attendances were strong.

“We do have ongoing­ concerns about falling mass attendances though this is not a new phenomenon.

“Every Sunday almost 140,000 people attend mass across the archdiocese of Melbourne.”

The spokesman noted several outer-Melbourne ­parishes are doing very well, including Deer Park, where 1930 people attend mass weekly, Mill Park (2068) and St Albans (3398).

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