Catholic abuse issue festers on with more insiders speaking up

Even the official Catholic line is for a significant change in approach to world-wide scandals of abuse that have been swept under the church gowns for decades.

The Pope is under increasing pressure and criticism:

The ‘gravely negligent’ charge (and similar) is becoming common, including in New Zealand. There is a campaign to change the name of a Dunedin High School named after a Bishop who effectively allowed priests to continue abusing.

In August:  Not ready to condemn Kavanagh

The Bishop of Dunedin is not yet ready to condemn a predecessor, but says the actions of a priest who aided a paedophile Christian Brother would ”definitely not” be appropriate today.

Bishop Michael Dooley yesterday defended former Dunedin bishop John Kavanagh, who had jurisdiction over Fr Magnus Murray and Br Desmond Fay at the time of their offending in Dunedin.

Fr Murray, who in 2003 admitted offences against four Dunedin boys dating back to 1958-72, was sent to Australia by Bishop Kavanagh for treatment after details of his offending were raised in 1972.

Bishop Kavanagh later endorsed Fr Murray’s return to public ministry in the North Island, where more victims have since emerged.

Bishop Kavanagh also had ultimate jurisdiction over Br Desmond Fay, who was principal at Christian Brothers Junior School when he allegedly abused a young boy who later committed suicide.

Br Fay, who also taught at St Edmund’s School in South Dunedin, was sent overseas after the intervention of a Dunedin Catholic priest, Fr Kevin Kean.

Moving abusing priests on to other locations where abuse continued seems to be a common story.

ODT last Thursday: Emotions high amid calls for name change

Tears mixed with calls for healing as more than 50 people gathered in Dunedin to demand a new name for Kavanagh College last night.

The meeting was organised by former Kavanagh College pupils Christian McNab (25) and Sam Murphy (26) following ODT Insight revelations about sexual offending within the Dunedin diocese.

Much of the abuse occurred under the watch of Dunedin Catholic bishop at the time John Kavanagh, from whom the college took its name in 1989.

And, as current Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley watched from the audience, survivors and their supporters stood, one by one, to share their stories and join the call for a name change last night.

Board member Paul O’Neill told last night’s meeting the decision was ultimately for Bishop Dooley to make, but the issue was being considered ”seriously”.

So one bishop gets to make the decision. A bishop who has so far failed to adequately acknowledge the severity of the situation for the Catholic Church in Dunedin and in New Zealand. This seems to be a failing that goes right to the top, the Pope.

But some in the church are prepared to stand up. Last Monday Alexandra’s priest speaks out

A Central Otago priest has broken his silence by criticising the Catholic Church’s handling of historic sexual abuse allegations.

Alexandra parish priest Fr Vaughan Leslie said the church’s response, within New Zealand and overseas, had helped fuel the “abuse crisis” now engulfing the church.

It had failed to remove men from ministry when credible complaints were received, and “misguided protectionism” had occurred “at the expense of truth and justice”, he said.

The response also highlighted the need for culture change within the church hierarchy, here and overseas, to put an end to a situation in which “in-groups of clergy hold all the reins of power”.

“I speak out because I love the Catholic Church, but not always the way she is run.

Saying this as a priest could well challenge some members of the Catholic hierarchy, but not doing so makes me guilty of saying the status quo is OK – which I do not believe [will do] if we are to regain our credibility, particularly in the moral area.

“Only when this occurs will victims of all forms of church-based abuse be able to trust the church again and have confidence that her processes will effectively protect the vulnerable, now and in the future.”

He had been compelled to speak out once before, in 2003, when he wrote to Dunedin paedophile priest Fr Magnus Murray in prison, urging him to seek forgiveness for his “truly evil” crimes.

Fr Murray had responded by complaining to the church hierarchy from his prison cell, and Fr Leslie was reprimanded for his actions.

He would not name the church official who reprimanded him, but said it was now clear clergy needed to hold other clergy and the church leadership – himself included – to account.

I don’t know if church leaders are capable of dealing with this properly. Praying amongst themselves doesn’t cut it.

Ageing bishops seem lout of touch with the damage this is doing their church. Their reluctance to publicly hold people to account leaves a further stain – are they trying to avoid responsibility for hiding and perpetuating past abuses?

 

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  October 21, 2018

    Has Bill English ever commented on the state of the Catholic Church in New Zealand?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 21, 2018

      Good point. At least Jacinda has more or less commented on the Mormon church by not being one.

      Reply
  2. sorethumb

     /  October 21, 2018

    The basic issue hear is human nature: you have men attracted to an all male environment alone with boys. I see the same sort of issue with multiculturalism where you get competing group interests

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 21, 2018

    Screwed up sexuality is no basis for a sane and safe religion.

    Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  October 21, 2018

    Card Cupich: I’m hopeful for the February meeting about #abuse called by the #Pope with Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences. I’m hoping for meaningful results. We must involve lay people in investigations, giving up even our authority in the search for truth.

    The appropriate lay people to involve in investigations are the police. They have a very good record of getting to the truth and taking the most appropriate action when the abuse is established to have occurred.

    Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  October 21, 2018

    Well they should do a bit more to address the heinous abuse…the recent one day of prayer and fasting is an ..insult.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 21, 2018

      One day in a lions den might give an indication of the actual value of prayer and fasting?

      Reply

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