Catholic priest ‘abused children for decades’

NewsTalk ZB

July 25, 2018

By Mick Hall

A prominent Catholic priest and theologian has been exposed as a self-confessed paedophile, who was quietly placed on a sex offenders programme by the church and is suspected of having abused dozens of children for decades.

The Herald can reveal Father Michael Shirres, who had lectured in Māori theology at the University of Auckland and wrote several books on Māori spirituality, confessed to sexually abusing a young girl and is suspected of abusing many other victims.

The Catholic church has confirmed it received five complaints against Shirres and placed him in a programme for sex offenders. Another victim says a therapist told her Shirres admitted to abusing dozens of children.

Shirres was a revered figure within Māori communities in the Far North, where he had visited regularly as a guest speaker since 1973. The priest died of motor neuron disease in October 1997, aged 68.

Among his victims was Annie Hill, 56, a former art teacher at Pompallier College in Whangarei, who received a written apology from the priest for sexually abusing her.

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