Peado Michael Shirres influential in Maori Churches

A Catholic priest who admitted abusing at least five children in New Zealand and earlier worked in Canberra was never reported to police, the church says.

And one of the women he abused says she believes there’s almost certainly Australian victims.

Five historical complaints were made in 1993 against Dominican Order member Father Michael Shirres, a priest and theologian who died in 1997, Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said on Wednesday.

However while Shirres confessed to offending over several decades, police were never alerted because the victims wanted privacy, the bishop said.

He was instead put through an independent sex offender program and removed from priestly work. He later apologised.

“At that time the policy with historic cases, as distinct from current cases, was to prioritise the wishes of the complainant,” Bishop Dunn said.

“We respected their wishes and realised that if we did not, people would not be prepared to come forward.”

He said the church’s practice was to encourage complainants to go to the police and the Dominican Order worked to support those who had come forward.

A highly regarded figure in communities in New Zealand’s Far North from the 1970s, Shirres lectured Maori theology in Auckland and authored several books.

In the 1960s, he was chaplain at the Australian National University in Canberra for several years and was there at least until 1964.

Whangarei resident Annie Hill told AAP within her parish there was talk Shirres has was already an abuser when he returned to Auckland in 1966.

She was abused from age five and has been left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He didn’t suddenly get off the plane back in his home country and become a child abuser,” she said.

Ms Hill, who took compensation from the church in the 1990s, said she was now compelled to speak out because she felt the Dominican Order in recent years had venerated Shirres despite repeated warnings.

“My father raised this with them in 1966. I raised it with them again in the early ’90s and then in 2016 I went back to them and said again: ‘I believe there are other victims. What are you doing to make inquiries?'” she said.

“At the level of action, empathy and understanding, nothing has happened.”

Dominican Friars Provincial Anthony Walsh – the order’s regional head – is overseas but a spokesman for his office in Victoria said the order would check archives to see if any accusations had been made against Shirres in Australia, although it was not immediately aware of any.

The order said it would reply later in the week.

Abuser NZ priest worked in Australia

Flashback: July 2008, Christian doctrine offensive to Muslims, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Along with the acceptance of LGBT as a norm, these secular humanist issues have been justified and promoted here in New Zealand for decades by the joint Catholic-Anglican-Methodist venture of St Johns College, Trinity College and the Catholic Institute of Theology, all based out of the University of Auckland. There were no papers available on apologetics or defending the faith.

Christian doctrine offensive to Muslims, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Christian doctrine offensive to Muslims, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Key elements of Christian doctrine are offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a letter to Islamic scholars.

By Ben Farmer

His comments came in a published letter to Islamic leaders, intended to promote closer dialogue and understanding between the two faiths.

However they come just months after Dr Williams was forced to clarify comments in which he said some parts of Islamic law will “unavoidably” be adopted in Britain.

The comments are also made as the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference begins in Canterbury. Up to a quarter of bishops are boycotting the event, as the Anglican Church faces continuing division over the issues of women bishops and homosexual clergy.

The wide-ranging letter, which covers difficult issues including religious freedom and religiously-inspired violence is in response to a document written last year by Muslim scholars from 43 countries.

Discussing differences between the religions, Dr Williams acknowledges that Christian belief in the Trinity is “difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims”.

The Trinity is the Christian doctrine stating God exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and conflicts with Islamic teaching that there is one all-powerful God.

Speaking about the history of the two religions, Dr Williams said they had been too often confused with Empire and control.

He said: “Despite Jesus’ words in John’s gospel, Christianity has been promoted at the point of the sword and legally supported by extreme sanctions; despite the Qur’anic axiom, Islam has been supported in the same way, with extreme penalties for abandoning it, and civil disabilities for those outside the faith.

“There is no religious tradition whose history is exempt from such temptation and such failure.”

He goes on: “What we need as a vision for our dialogue is to break the current cycles of violence, to show the world that faith and faith alone can truly ground a commitment to peace which definitively abandons the tempting but lethal cycle of retaliation in which we simply imitate each other’s violence.”

The 17-page letter, called A Common Word for the Common Good, is in response to a letter from Muslim leaders written last September.

That letter, A Common Word Between Us and You, was signed by 138 Muslim scholars to declare the common ground between the two religions.

Dr Williams described the Muslim document as hospitable and friendly and added: “Your letter could hardly be more timely, given the growing awareness that peace throughout the world is deeply entwined with the ability of all people of faith everywhere to live in peace, justice, mutual respect and love.”

His own dense and meticulous letter did not mention sharia Islamic law at all. He received widespread criticism from politicians and other clergy for his comments in February and later told the General Synod he took responsibility for his “unclarity” and “misleading” choice of words.