New Zealand’s Catholic Church formally apologises to victims of abuse

Inquiry report finds more than quarter of a million people were physically and sexually abused in faith based institutions

Shweta Sharma
Friday 26 March 2021 11:57
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<p>Cardinal John Dew made the apology at the Royal Commission as investigation continues Abuse in Care </p>

Cardinal John Dew made the apology at the Royal Commission as investigation continues Abuse in Care

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New Zealand's Catholic Church has formally apologised for the first time for causing “pain, hurt and trauma” to victims who were physically and sexually abused in faith-based and state care institutions in the years spanning from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

Cardinal John Dew, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, apologised on behalf of former bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We offer no excuses for their actions, or for ours, that have caused you harm,’ Mr Dew said on Friday.

“Any kind of abuse is unacceptable and indefensible. We are deeply sorry. We acknowledge that the systems and culture of the church allowed abuse to occur. These systems and culture failed you and must change,” Mr Dew said.

The apology came on the heels of an ongoing “Abuse in Care” inquiry by the Royal Commission to resolve historic and current abuse claims and find out the extent of it. Mr Dew’s statement was part of witness statements from the religious institutions.

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In 2018, prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced an inquiry into the widespread allegations of physical and sexual abuse of thousands of children and young people by setting up the Royal Commission.

She described it as “a dark chapter” in its history and expanded the inquiry to include churches and other faith-based institutions.

Last year, the interim report by the commission revealed horrific details, stating children between the age of 5 to 17 suffered years of abuse, including electric shock treatment, rape, strip searches and vaginal examinations, verbal abuse and racial slurs.

The report found that even five-month-old infants were also a victim of the crime. In the aftermath of it, most of the survivors are now suffering mental health issues, bouts of self harm, post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

On Friday, one of the survivor of abuse, Ken Clearwater, rejected the apology, saying they are just “hollow words” and apology came only because they are caught in the middle of an inquiry.

“They've had 25 years to do something and they've failed... They're not apologising for what happened to the victims; they're apologising because they've been caught and it's now out in the public of New Zealand,” Mr Clearwater was quoted as saying by Radio New Zealand.

”It's happened around the world, finally it's here on the shores of New Zealand; that's why they're apologising. They want to make themselves look good,” he added.

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