By Lisa Zengarini
“The Catholic bishops and congregational leaders are committed to upholding their responsibilities to act to stop abuse in the Catholic Church and to learn the lessons of how to respond to what has happened. We acknowledge the harm caused to many and express our profound sorrow”. This was reiterated today as the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care of New Zealand began its first faith-based redress public hearings in Auckland. The Commission is investigating the adequacy of redress and what needs to be done to support people who have been abused or neglected in State and Faith-based institutions. This first part of the Commission’s faith-based redress hearings will focus on the experience of survivors in seeking redress (such as compensation, counselling or an apology) for abuse and/or neglect in the care of Catholic, Anglican and Salvation Army institutions.
Request to be included in the investigation
The Catholic bishops and congregational leaders of New Zealand have asked to be included in the investigation. “They are committed to working with it, for events of the past to be examined transparently and openly, and to implement the Commission’s eventual recommendations, said Wellington Archbishop Cardinal John Dew, representing the bishops and their six dioceses on Te Rōpū Tautoko, the Church agency formed to co-ordinate and manage cooperation between the Royal Commission and the Catholic Church, as represented by the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference and the Congregational Leaders Conference (CLCANZ).
Listening to survivors
Sister Margaret Anne Mills, president of CLCANZ, which represents 43 Catholic religious entities on Te Rōpū Tautoko, praised the courage of survivors who have come forward to share their experiences: “We will be listening very carefully to what survivors have to say, reflecting on their evidence and learning from their experiences”.
The hearings, which will continue until 11 December, “will not examine the merits of any individual claims, nor resolve disputed factual issues relating to those claims”. Two State Redress public hearings were held by the Commission from 21 September to 6 October and from 19 October to 3 November.