It’s only taken years: Churches push for inclusion in Royal Commission into abuse

eight_col_1m1a2097Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson (left) and Cardinal John Dew from the Catholic Church.

The Anglican and Catholic churches are making their most concentrated push yet to get the Royal Commission into abuse expanded to fully include them.

Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson and Catholic Cardinal John Dew have met with the commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand.

“The Anglican Church needs to collaborate fully with the Royal Commission and we need the terms of reference to be extended in a way that allows that to be possible,” Archbishop Philip Richardson said.

“That’s the best way of addressing long-term hurt and long-term consequences.”

The Anglicans’ top General Synod committee is now also writing to the Prime Minister and the Children’s Minister calling for an expanded commission.

Some leading non-clerical Catholic voices have previously called for such an expansion – but now their top clergy are getting vocal too.

“We are saying that if they are going to move on to a stage of investigating institutions … then we would welcome having church institutions also included so that we too can learn from whatever failings might have occurred in the past,” Bishop Patrick Dunn, who heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said.

The inquiry’s draft terms exclude scrutiny of abuse in institutions in cases where the state had no involvement.

So the case of a child sent into church care by the state would be treated differently to a child sent to, say, a Catholic school by their parents and abused there.

The government’s made its preference clear – even down to the email address of the inquiry:

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, despite giving repeated interviews expressing this preference, has not said exactly why non-state agencies could not be included.

Survivors of sexual abuse by priests have been campaigning for an expansion, with some saying they would refuse to give their story to any Royal Commission that did not hold the institution to account in their case.

The Australian inquiry into child sex abuse heard 1100 complaints of abuse had been made against the Anglican Church from 1980 to 2015, and four times that against the Catholics.

“Certainly the Australian example is very salutary but we would have taken exactly the same position whether the Australian inquiry had been held or not,” Archbishop Richardson said.

As for other Christian churches, the consensus seems to be they all wanted to be scrutinised by the Royal Commission here, he said.

He was asking to meet Children’s Minister Tracey Martin, but is clearly keen to leave the government room to move.

“If the terms of reference are not extended, how can the church’s accountability be reflected? And we want to have those conversations with the [political] ministers … we’re really not sure what that might look like.”

The original whistleblower into Catholic clerical child abuse, US priest Tom Doyle, has said it would unheard of to try to have a second, separate inquiry into abuse in churches.

A Royal Commission spokesperson said Sir Anand had met the churchmen, was meeting a wide range of people and was not commenting on the content of any submissions.

She did not say if the public consultation on the draft terms of reference would be extended beyond the end of April or not.

Churches push for inclusion in Royal Commission into abuse

Religious academics KNOW they target Children with the LGBT message!

From the Church of England’s refusal to discipline William Yate when he was banished from Northland almost two centuries ago, until today, the churches have long been responsible for covering up those abusing children here in NZ. These same religious leaders are now openly targeting the sexualisation of Children into special communities with the LGBTQI++etc philosophy (that sex with anyone is ok because they claim our evolution from animals means that it’s only natural to follow our carnal instincts).

As lauded feminist lecturer Helen Bergin (Catholic Institute of Theology) claimed in her Auckland University School of Theology classes, “…life would be so boring if there were only two genders”. It was her desire that children be given opportunities at a young age to experiment sexually so they can chose their new gender. It was from these classes that Eugene Sisneros graduated while at St Matthews, only to take the Anglican Church to the Human Rights commission to normalise his behaviour as a role model for Anglican children. St Matthews recently held the thanksgiving service for the 2018 Pride Festival.

There needs to be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into NZ religious organisation’s child sexual abuse, modelled after the recent Australian one.

NZ Catholic Church still keeping issues behind closed doors

NZ Catholic Church still keeping issues behind closed doors


Analysis – The sexual abuse of women by men in positions of power takes many guises, writes Phil Pennington.

Where it occurs in the Catholic Church, and priests are the perpetrators, Cardinal John Dew, who is also bishop of Wellington, has been uncompromising in the past in calling it out.

It was “professional misconduct by means of sexual abuse” for any priest to have a sexual relationship with a parishioner, he has said.

“It is always, in the case of a member of the clergy, his professional and pastoral responsibility to recognise the vulnerability of the person he’s ministering to and to take appropriate steps to avoid emotional, physical and sexual involvement.”

There was always a power imbalance between priests and their parishioners, and “meaningful consent” could not apply.

“It is a sad reality that there have been many instances of sexual abuse, this is always a betrayal of trust, it is always an inappropriate use of power and control that a priest …has.”

Cardinal John Dew – the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington – wrote that back in 1996 in a Church paper, following revelations that a bishop in Scotland had been living with a divorcee and had fathered a son with another woman.

His spokesperson this week told RNZ that “the Cardinal stands by his comments”.

But two decades on, Cardinal Dew is not so forthcoming on the related issue of priests who father children.

Others have spoken up, with Pope Francis saying he would be inclined to tell a priest “he must leave his priestly ministry and take care of his child”.

Support network Coping International have heard from a number of New Zealanders, including the mother of a primary school girl who says a priest is her father, a young man who took months to come forward and an older Auckland woman who a few weeks ago became the first to be acknowledged by the Bishop of Auckland as the child of a priest.

That bishop, Patrick Dunn, spoke to RNZ.

However, the overall message from his fellow bishops, via their spokesperson, is that these cases are “not a public matter”, they are “personal”, and any response from bishops is “pastoral” involving “a listening ear and heart”.

Irishman Vincent Doyle, the son-of-a-priest and founder of Coping International, wants more than sympathy from New Zealand’s Catholic leaders.

He asked the bishops to adopt principles issued in Ireland last year, that put the onus firmly on the priest to face up to being a father, and on bishops to push them to do just that.

Instead, the local bishops put out a six-line statement that does not directly mention priests at all, or what Church leaders will be telling priests.

What, for instance, are they telling them about whether they will be forced out if they admit to fathering a child? Or about their financial obligations? Or about contraception?

What duty of care to the women and their children is the Church itself taking for a relationship that Cardinal Dew has described as fundamentally abusive?

New Zealanders have been intently focused on revelations about sexual harassment at law firms. Russell McVeagh is having to submit to an external review looking not just at individual cases but its whole culture and management.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church is keeping its issues in-house.

* Footnote: In a response to this piece, the bishops’ spokesperson reiterated their earlier statement and added: “With regard to a seminarian or a layperson becoming aware of a priest having fathered a child, or a cleric becoming likewise aware (outside of the sacrament of reconciliation) of such information, the response they are taught and are required to follow, in good conscience, is to notify the priest’s bishop and/or the Professional Standards office of the local church and entrust the personnel there to follow the matter up with the priest, families and authorities involved.”

1100 child abuse complaints made against Australian ANGLICAN church

1100 child abuse complaints made against Australian church


The head of Australia’s Anglican Church expressed sorrow and shame after a government report published on Friday said close to 1100 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the church over a 35-year period.


The interim report, which said most children were aged around 11 when they were abused, came a month after a high-level inquiry into child abuse was told the Australian Catholic church had paid A$276 million in compensation to thousands of victims since 1980.

The report, which was published by the same inquiry, the Royal Commission Into Child Abuse, said the complaints identified 569 Anglican clergy, teachers and volunteers as alleged abusers. There were another 133 alleged abusers whose roles at the church were not known.

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier said he felt a “personal sense of shame and sorrow” at the way the church had apparently silenced victims.

“Anglicans have been truly shocked and dismayed (by) the scope of our failure to tackle child sexual abuse within the Church,” Freier, the church’s primate, said in a statement on its website.

A royal commission is Australia’s most powerful kind of government-appointed inquiry and can compel witnesses to give evidence and recommend prosecutions.

The current royal commission had previously heard that seven percent of Catholic priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2010 were accused of child sex crimes, but few were pursued.

The commission’s latest report said 1082 people had lodged complaints between 1980 and 2015 about 1115 alleged incidents while they were under the care of the Anglican church. Some of the incidents dated back to 1950.

The Anglican church had paid A$31 million to 459 of those complainants, the report said. Another report published by the inquiry last month said the Catholic church had paid compensation to about three-quarters of complainants.

“It tells us that any processes we had in place did not prevent abusers working in our church, as clergy and lay leaders and, in the roles most trusted to care for our children, as teachers and youth workers,” church general secretary Anne Hywood told the inquiry.

“We are deeply ashamed of the many ways in which we have let down survivors, both in the way we have acted and the way we have failed to act,” she said.

The royal commission is due to report back to the government in December.

– Reuters

Vatican will be terrified of state inquiry, whistleblower says

Vatican will be terrified of state inquiry, whistleblower says


An international Catholic whistleblower says the Vatican will be “quaking in fear” in case the New Zealand Catholic Church is included in an inquiry into abuse.

The Government has repeatedly stated it wants to leave Churches and other non-state institutions out of the upcoming Royal Commission.

Some survivors of clerical abuse are pushing for Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand to reverse that during the current public consultation phase.

“I do not know of an inquiry that has taken place that has limited itself in such a way,” said Father Tom Doyle, of Virginia, who’s been involved in a dozen-plus abuse inquiries around the world and across the US.

The one-time canon lawyer first blew the whistle on the global abuse scandal in 1984 and his work featured in the Academy Award-winning film Spotlight.

An inquiry that excluded the Church, except where the State sent a child into its care, would please the Vatican.

“They’d be very interested if an inquiry’s going to take place and I’m sure they would be quaking in fear that this inquiry is going to resemble what happened in Australia.”

It was likely the Vatican had told Bishops in New Zealand not to lobby the Government to be included in the inquiry, he said, despite survivors asking them to – and despite a leading layman, Bill Kilgallon, who till recently was on the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, saying the Church should be included.

“From my experience, which is very extensive, is that the Cardinal and the Bishops are probably very, very fearful of a complete inquiry taking place, because they can look 2000 miles away and see what happened in Australia, and that was the most thorough examination of sexual abuse of children in the history of the world and I was involved in it, and I’ve seen the results.”

The Communications Advisor to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops, Amanda Gregan, said she was not aware if the Vatican has told local Bishops not to lobby to be included in the Royal Commission.

The New Zealand Cardinal John Dew has not responded to RNZ’s repeated requests to publicly state whether he will ask the Government to include the Church.

Such a call coming from the Cardinal or a Bishop was very different than it coming from Mr Kilgallon, Father Doyle said.

The Children’s Minister Tracey Martin announced the Royal Commission, expected to last three years and cost at least $40 million, saying: “This is about the people, not the institutions.”

This was alarming, said Father Doyle.

“They’re bypassing the most important dimension of this whole scandal, which is the enabling that the institutions have done to enable the perpetrators, the abusers, to do what they’ve done, and the power of the institutions also to avoid any accountability.

“And so the victims are gonna say ‘what’s the use’.

“You don’t have to have a major investigation to determine the damage done to the victims, that’s already been determined, I mean we know what that is – the criminals are gonna get away with it.”

He had heard from many New Zealand survivors over the years.

“The way they had been treated by the church over there has been completely shameful, it’s extremely disturbing. There are victims who are living in hope that someday they will be vindicated. That the government, that the society will recognise and acknowledge what happened to them.”

Meantime, Australian media is reporting that the Philippines ambassador to New Zealand, Jesus ‘Gary’ Domingo has thanked Anthea Halpin, a victim of Father Denis McAlinden who abused children in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

She has gone public, using her real name, calling on the Australian Catholic Church to take responsibility for sex crimes against children in developing countries.

The Philippines owed her “a debt of gratitude for her courage”, said Mr Domingo.