Catholic Church reveals huge abuse stats – but it’s a ‘drop in the bucket’ say survivors

Stuff [Wellington, New Zealand]

February 1, 2022

By Steve Kilgallon

For the first time in its history, the New Zealand Catholic Church has released figures showing the scale of abuse committed by its priests and other religious officials.

But despite the 1680 cases of alleged abuse it has admitted to, survivors say the figure represents a “drop in the bucket” of the actual total – and estimate it could be as little as five per cent of the real number.

The data drop comes just a week before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care begins a week-long hearing into one of the Church’s worst abuse cases, that of Marylands school in Christchurch.

The residential school, run by the Catholic St John of God order, accounts for 14 per cent of all the complaints received, and the three most prolific offenders – all with more than 15 recorded complaints – all worked at Marylands.

But Murray Heasley, spokesman for the Network of Survivors of Religious Abuse and their Supporters, said that only illustrated that the real figures were well hidden.

“It reflects the fact that police allocated resources for an independent look at one institution – that’s the reason you get that skewed number,” he said.

“If police were to allocate resources to investigate other entities run by the church, then you would start to see the real figures.”