Expanded Royal Commission to include religious institution abuse

After public pressure it looks like the Government has listened. They have announced that Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care has been expanded to include ‘in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions’.

In January (RNZ) Royal Commission into state care abuse ‘completely stalled’ – lawyer

A lawyer working for New Zealand victims of abuse in state care says Australia’s apology to their victims of child sexual abuse should embarrass NZ into getting on with its own Royal Commission.

RNZ: Religious institutions to be included in state abuse inquiry

The Government’s inquiry into the abuse of children in state care will be expanded to include the abuse of children in the care of religious institutions.

The Royal Commission was formally established in February to be chaired by the former Govenor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, with the terms of reference, budget and additional inquiry members to be announced after consultation and Cabinet approval.

Its initial scope was to cover circumstances where the state directly ran institutions like child welfare institutions, borstals or psychiatric hospitals, and where the government contracted services out to other institutions, but as of today that will be expanded to include children in the care of faith-based institutions

Religious groups and church abuse survivors have been lobbying to be included in the inquiry since it was announced.

It will begin hearing evidence from January next year with the first interim report, which will be focussed on state care, to be reported back by the end of 2020.

A final report containing the Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to the Governor-General in January 2023.

That’s a long time to get a final report – five years. However it is a big issue to inquire into and it is important it is done thoroughly.

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said it was critical the Government got the Royal Commission right and the scope and purpose of the Inquiry has been carefully considered.

“Today paves the way for us to confront a dark chapter of our national history by acknowledging what happened to people in state care, and in the care of faith-based institutions, and to learn the lessons for the future.”

Unresolved abuse has adversely affected the lives of many people – not just those directly affected by the abuse. It has caused life-long problems that also impact on families, on policing and the judiciary, on schools, on the health system (not just mental health), and on the institutions involved in the abuse (not all people in those institutions were complicit).

The President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Patrick Dunn, said the church reaffirmed its support and desire to learn from this national undertaking which it was confident would contribute positively to the strengthening and safeguarding of its families, communities and society.

“The view we expressed during the consultation was that it would be wrong if some individuals were excluded from the Inquiry simply because their path of referral to an institution was different from someone else’s.”

The Catholic Church has appointed a new group to ensure it provides a co-ordinated and co-operative response to the Commission from all the many dioceses, congregations and institutions of the Church in this country.

I think the problem had become too difficult for the Catholic Church to deal with on their own – they had really stuffed up dealing with it for decades. So an independent inquiry has a much better chance of properly dealing with it.

The Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson said he was also pleased the Government had responded positively to calls, including from the churches, to broaden the scope of inquiry.

“Our primary concern is for the needs of those whose lives have been impacted by abuse, and we are conscious that abuse has been perpetrated by agencies across our society, including the Church and its agencies.

Philip Richardson said justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done.

There are still concerns over aspects of the scope of the inquiry.

The government said the commission would focus on cases between 1950 and 1999 with discretion to look outside of that time period.

Wellington-based human rights lawyer Sonja Cooper told Checkpoint her firm has more than 100 clients born after 1990 and their voice most likely would not be heard.

“They’re going to be concerned and some quite devastated by that,” she said.

“They’ve had their abusive experiences, they’re actually still suffering deeply from that.”

Ms Cooper said the the timeframe should be extended to 2017.

It seems odd that there are cut-off dates. The inquiry should be able to look at any abuse.

ODT:Abuse inquiry widened

Bishop Michael Dooley said yesterday he was “relieved” to hear children abused while in the care of faith-based institutions would now be included.

But:

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin says an expanded royal commission into the abuse of children may not go far enough.

That meant the victims of a paedophile priest like Fr Magnus Murray, convicted of abusing four Dunedin boys in family homes, the presbytery and on trips, could yet miss out. Bishop Dooley said if that was so, the inquiry needed to go further.

All parishioners were in the pastoral care of their priest, so any abused by clergy needed to be heard, he believed.

“I think it should be anyone under the pastoral care of the church.”

Yesterday’s announcement also followed a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, which has been exposing the extent of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese.

The Royal Commission has a big job to do.

5 Comments

  1. MaureenW

     /  November 13, 2018

    Men who claim to be God’s messenger – what do you expect? They’re all frauds and/or all deluded or both.

    This garbage is straight out of the stone-ages, I would like to see all religions lose their tax-exempt staus, and come with a clear warning.

    • Gezza

       /  November 13, 2018

      Yup. And don’t get me started Maureen. You know how I feel about these dopey blimmin godforsaken Abrahamic Jaweh, Trinity & Allah BS believers ! >:D

      • MaureenW

         /  November 13, 2018

        Get started – crank it up

        • Gezza

           /  November 13, 2018

          They’re all [deleted] [deleted] [deleted] who should stick a [deleted] up their [deleted] and shove their holy books into their imam’s, popes, and sundry other religious leaders’ [deleted]s.