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Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care

The bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand will closely study the interim Redress report of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care and look at how they can implement the recommendations.
The report — He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu; from Redress to Puretumu — was tabled in Parliament today and makes recommendations on how survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care should be heard and get redress for the harm suffered.
It has been welcomed by the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference (representing the country’s Catholic bishops), the Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand (representing Catholic religious orders and similar entities) and Te Rōpū Tautoko (the group formed to coordinate Catholic engagement with the royal commission).
Sister Margaret Anne Mills, president of the Congregational Leaders Conference, says: “I welcome this report and acknowledge the harm suffered by survivors of abuse and proposed actions to address and provide redress. We see the report as part of the vision to transform what we are doing today and into the future.”

Cardinal John Dew, president of the NZCBC, says: “We have been listening closely to what survivors have been telling the royal commission. We have previously indicated our support for the establishment of an independent redress scheme. This report gives a series of recommendations we can study to help us as we walk alongside survivors of abuse.”
Catherine Fyfe, Chair of Te Rōpū Tautoko, says: “Te Rōpū Tautoko members thank the commissioners for their work in preparing this report and look forward to helping Church leaders along the journey of reviewing and implementing the recommendations.”

The Church has been working proactively while waiting for the commission’s report. Te Rōpū Tautoko has created a roadmap of work that needs doing across all areas of the Church to make improvements in response to reports or disclosures of abuse in the care of the Catholic Church.

“Setting it out in the Roadmap makes it clear to everyone the work that is needed and the progress being made,” says Catherine Fyfe. “This provides a sense of transparency and accountability.”

The Roadmap is here.

The Royal Commission report is here.

Updated 26th March 2021

The Catholic Church is participating in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

This week the representatives of the Church are participating in the Redress Hearings Phase 2.

The final representative of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand was Cardinal John Dew, who has made a formal apology to victims and survivors of abuse committed by priests and other Church figures.

Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington and President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, speaking on behalf of Church leaders, gave the apology. The apology can be viewed here

Information about the Royal Commission can be found at https://www.abuseincare.org.nz/

Complaints of abuse can be made to The National Office of Professional Standards https://safeguarding.catholic.org.nz/

Updated 1st December 2020

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Aotearoa has begun its faith based redress public hearings, which includes the Catholic Church, and where some survivors of abuse in faith-based care are giving evidence.

Before the Royal Commission was instigated, the New Zealand Bishops and congregational leaders petitioned the government for the church to be included as part of the Royal Commission, saying that “Abuse in the Church must be examined, understood, acknowledged and addressed so that the voice of victims, who were often silenced, may be heard… we deeply regret every instance of abuse and welcome this Royal Commission as an opportunity for survivors to be heard and for all parties involved to continue the healing and transformation process.”

As a community it is a chance to listen to the experiences of survivors, acknowledge failings, support the justice and healing and reconciliation process and look forward to the future with hope.

The Catholic Church is determined to listen, learn, and reflect on the evidence of survivors who will speak at the first faith-based redress hearings of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care that is currently happening in Auckland. This first part of the Royal Commission’s faith-based redress hearings will hear evidence from survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and Salvation Army.

“The Catholic bishops and congregational leaders are committed to upholding their responsibilities to act to stop abuse in the Catholic Church and to learn the lessons of how to respond to what has happened,” says Catherine Fyfe, chair of Te Rōpū Tautoko, the Church agency formed to co-ordinate and manage cooperation between the Royal Commission and the Catholic Church, as represented by the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference and the Congregational Leaders Conference (CLCANZ).

Te Rōpū Tautoko has provided thousands of pages of requested historical documents to the Commission.

The Royal Commission says these hearings “will investigate the adequacy of the redress processes of the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Salvation Army and what needs to be done to support people who have been abused or neglected in faith-based institutions.” These hearings “will not examine the merits of any individual claims, nor resolve disputed factual issues relating to those claims.”

“Our vision is for a safe church for children and vulnerable adults and I want to assure you I am committed to this as we continue to strengthen safeguarding within our parishes and communities” said Bishop Paul.

Please pray for all involved, that we will be a Church which brings peace and kindness into the lives of all, especially those who have been hurt when they should have been safe and cared for.

If you have a concern or complaint of abuse involving someone within the Church you can call the National Office of Professional Standards on 0800 114 622 or email prof.standards@nzcbc.org.nz

If you are a parishioner and have questions or need to speak to someone you are encouraged to speak to a priest in your parish, a pastoral staff member, Catholic Social Services (03-379 0012) or phone Cathedral House (03-366 9869) or email pastoral@chch.catholic.org.nz