The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand has made a formal apology to victims and survivors of abuse committed by priests and other Church figures.
Speaking on behalf of Church leaders, Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington and President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, gave the apology in Auckland today during a hearing of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.
Addressing the victims and survivors of abuse, Cardinal Dew said: “I apologise to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. I also apologise to you on behalf of those who preceded us as bishops and congregational leaders. We offer no excuses for their actions, or for ours, that have caused you harm.”
Cardinal Dew said he, his fellow bishops and the leaders of the Church’s religious orders and congregations had heard and acknowledged victims and survivors who had spoken out over many years and at the royal commission.
“You have spoken of abuse perpetrated by bishops, priests, brothers, sisters, and lay people in the Catholic Church. People you should have been able to trust. We have heard you and acknowledge that we have caused you pain, hurt, and trauma, and that this continues to impact you. Any kind of abuse is unacceptable and indefensible. We are deeply sorry.”
Cardinal Dew acknowledged that systems and culture of the Church allowed abuse to occur. “These systems and culture failed you and must change. We apologise for the times that we or our predecessors protected the Church and not you.”
The bishops and congregational leaders understood and appreciated proposals from individuals and groups calling for an independent body to provide redress: “We will listen to and work with all parties who are considering and developing these proposals and continue to work with the Commission as it deliberates.
The Catholic Church and other faith-based bodies asked to be part of the royal commission, which is investigating the abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults while in the care of state and faith institutions.
Photo: A screen-shot of Cardinal Dew delivering the apology at the hearing