WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Catholic Bishops and religious seek inclusion in Royal Commission of Inquiry

WelCom May 2018:

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops and representation from Catholic religious orders wrote in March to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Minister for Children Tracey Martin, and Chair of New Zealand’s Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care, Sir Anand Satyanand, supporting the Royal Commission and seeking inclusion of religious institutions in the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The letter, signed by Bishop Patrick Dunn, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, and Sister Katrina Fabish rsm, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, offers full support for the work of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and seeks a broadening of the Inquiry’s terms of reference to include a range of Church institutions.

‘We are of the firm view that no individual should be denied the possibility of making a submission to this Government Inquiry. It would be wrong if some individuals felt excluded from this process simply because their path of referral to an institution was different from someone else’s.’

The letter reaffirmed the Catholic church leaders’ support for the Inquiry and stating its desire to be involved. ‘We assure you once again of our support and our desire to learn from this national undertaking, which we are confident will contribute positively to the strengthening and safeguarding of our whānau, communities and society.’

In an interview on TV3’s Newshub Nation on Saturday 21 April, the Inquiry head Sir Anand Satyanand has suggested churches could launch their own internal investigation into historical abuse. Sir Anand said he discussed the matter with the country’s senior Anglican and Catholic bishops meeting together recently in Wellington.

‘I raised with them the prospect that the churches could use their combined resources to mount a commission of their own and deal with issues in a tailor-made fashion so far as the churches are concerned.’

Sir Anand said there are obvious crossovers, and the two investigations could assist each other while maintaining confidentiality around specific cases.

‘There could be capacity for exchange of not necessarily information, of course, because that would be confidential and we will have a big store on confidentiality.

‘But there could be processes, there could be headings, there could be issues which the two commissions might share.’ He said, ‘The churches have expressed a willingness to be engaged with, so there’s a little time yet for all of this to work itself out.

‘But in the end, I think the decision about what this Royal Commission will do, whatever I recommend, at the other end, it will be a political decision made by the Cabinet, based on the information available to it.’