‘Horrific Experience’

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by Joe Gallagher  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 3, 2022   

New Zealand report on abuse in the Church

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Yesterday, New Zealand released its first report on clerical abuse going back to the 1950s. The scope of it extends beyond sexual abuse to other forms of violence — against both children and adults. Church Militant's Joe Gallagher has more on the allegations.

Cdl. John Dew, archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand: "I apologize to you on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church."

The report published on Feb. 1 reveals for the first time the shocking numbers of physical and sexual abuse in the New Zealand Catholic Church since the 1950s.

The results of a two-year fact-finding investigation revealed a total of 1,680 reports of abuse were made by 1,122 individuals against Catholic clergy, brothers, nuns, sisters and laypeople, from 1950 to the present, with 592 alleged abusers named.

It also notes almost half the reported abuse involved sexual harm and adds the 1960s and 1970s were the decades with the most abuse reported, with 75% dated before 1990.

Liz Tonks, victim advocate, Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-Based Institutions: "This inquiry should not have been needed. The churches, like the crown, have known for decades upon decades the abuse that was happening under their purview."

Alleged abuse occurred on diocesan grounds and at institutions run by religious orders.

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry stated, "Our inquiry has heard horrific experience after horrific experience of abuse," adding, "the research is startling, and the heartbreaking reality is that helpless and vulnerable children and adults sit behind these facts and figures." 

Tonks: "They have had decades to put measures in place. To prevent it happening, they have had decades to put appropriate trauma-free processes in place to ensure victim-survivors have redress."

The commission is expected to release its final report sometime in 2023. Meanwhile, abuse victims are encouraged to come forward to tell their story in the hopes they will get justice.

A preliminary report was released in December, accusing the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and the Salvation Army of protecting themselves from accusations and suppressing victims.

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