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New Zealand Catholic Church apologises to victims of abuse, some as young as nine-months-old, at faith-based institutions

The Royal Commission into Abuse and Case was set up by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018 to inquire into and report on the responses of institutions to instances and allegations of historical abuse in state care and faith bases institutions between 1950 and 2000.

The Catholic Church of New Zealand tendered apology to the victims of abuse, including sexual abuse, within the church on Friday following the Royal Commission report revealed a shocking number of child victims. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, Cardinal John Dew apologised at the Royal Commission into Abuse and Care on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand.

Victims as young as nine months old babies suffered years of abuse including rape and electric shock treatment

The Royal Commission into Abuse and Case was set up by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018 to inquire into and report on the responses of institutions to instances and allegations of historical abuse in state care and faith bases institutions between 1950 and 2000. An interim report of the Commission released in December reportedly found up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in the country’s faith-based and state care institutions from 1960s to early 2000s. As per Commission’s findings the victims included children as young as nine months old who suffered years of abuse including rape and electric shock treatment by staff at psychiatric and state care facilities, clergy and foster guardians.

We acknowledge that the systems and culture of the church allowed abuse to occur: Cardinal John Dew

“Today, recognising the importance of this moment, I apologise to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand”, said Cardinal John Dew. “I also apologise to you on behalf of those who preceded us as bishops and congregational leaders. We offer no excuses for their actions, or for our, that have caused you harm. We acknowledge that the systems and culture of the Church allowed abuse to occur. These systems and culture failed you and must change”, added Cardinal Dew, president of New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

Church abuse around the world

The report of an independent study conducted on the extent of child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic Church of Germany published on March 18 made some terrible revelations. The 800-page report of the study revealed more than 300 victims of sexual abuse between 1975 and 2018 and 202 perpetrators at the church. In 2018, an earlier study commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference had reportedly revealed that 1,670 clergymen had committed some type of sexual abuse against 3,677 minors between 1946 and 2014. The authors of the study had, however, claimed that the actual number of victims was much higher.

An independent investigation conducted to examine the cases of child abuse across churches in France had revealed shocking numbers of victims of sexual abuse. The report of the investigation estimated the number of victims in June last year as around 3,000. However, Jean-Marc Sauve, the head of the independent enquiry commission set up by the Catholic church, said that this was an underestimate. Sauve said that there might have been at least 10,000 victims of church child abuse since 1950.

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