Response To Catholic Church’s Public Relations Statements – SNAP

The Daily Blog [Auckland, NZ]

January 13, 2023

By The Daily Blog

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) in Aotearoa New Zealand Responds to Catholic Church’s Public Relations Statements

The statements by NZ Catholic Church leaders on “looking forward from the work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care,” and their proposed commitments to handle clergy and religious sexual abuse complaints differently, and support mandatory reporting, simply lack credibility.

For Catholic Church leaders to say they support mandatory reporting “but with exemptions” is a contradiction. Mandatory reporting means there must be no “legal, confessional, and therapeutic privilege,” – only respect for privacy at the sole request of the victim or survivor.

Further, to date survivors have not seen any substantial changes in the application and practical procedures responding to abuse complaints. We have seen nothing to bring the Church leaders’ public commitments to light.

In fact, sadly, survivor evidence demonstrates continued denial and cover up, diversion, a lack of accountability and no openness or transparency around process.

In internal investigative processes, church investigators have failed to properly investigate. As a consequence, survivors receive letters in private from church authorities stating that their complaints cannot be upheld.

Further, we are seeing more public statements being made by church leaders claiming that they are listening and responding appropriately.

How were they listening when survivors gave their closing statements on the last day of the Royal Commission’s hearing this past October and the bishops and congregational leaders were not present to hear them?

Further, when survivors reached out to the Catholic bishops and congregational leaders back in 2018 when the terms of reference for the Royal Commission included only state-based abuse, to ask church leaders to request to include themselves, they initially refused. So it is simply misleading to now claim they asked to be included, or always wanted to be included.

More distressingly, Catholic bishops recently diverted requests from survivors to have the church’s redress and safeguarding procedures externally audited after survivors informed the bishops that they felt the principles and procedures of the Church’s redress were being breached with impunity by the persons church leaders put in charge to oversee those procedures.

Hence, sadly, the “Statement of Catholic Church leaders on looking forward from the work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care,” and the claims to commit to changes, including mandatory reporting, simply lack credibility.

The changes need to be real and experienced as real by the people who matter the most – the survivors, in order to have any credibility.