“As a Church community, it is a cause of deep shame to us that some within the Church family whose very role has been to protect children, have been guilty of abuse. We acknowledge the evil. We offer profound regret and sincere apology. We will do everything we can to provide protection and healing to victims of this abuse.”
New Zealand Catholic Bishops, The Protection of Children
Message for survivors
If you or a member of your family has been harmed in the care of the Catholic Church, there are a number of ways your complaint can be heard:
- The Bishops and Congregational Leaders of the Catholic Church of Aotearoa New Zealand strongly encourage survivors of abuse to approach the New Zealand Police, and will cooperate fully with any Police investigation.
- The complaint can be dealt with by the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) according to the processes in A Path to Healing if that is the wish of the complainant. A Path to Healing is the protocol for dealing with complaints of abuse which has been adopted by the bishops and religious congregations in New Zealand. For more information about Te Houhanga Rongo A Path to Healing, and the complaints process, please click here. If you choose to have your complaint considered under A Path to Healing, you can continue, pause, or resume your complaint at any time.
- If you wish to engage with the Royal Commission, there is information on the Commission’s website https://www.abuseincare.org.nz/.
No decisions made by the Church authorities about your complaint will be impacted negatively if you choose to speak with the Royal Commission, or if you choose to pause the consideration of your complaint while you speak with the Royal Commission. This is also the case if your complaint is currently being considered by NOPS or the Church authority and you choose to speak to the Royal Commission in a private session, or to give evidence at a hearing.
Abuse in the Catholic Church
Abuse can be sexual, physical or emotional. The Church takes reports of all forms of abuse seriously.
Criminal sexual or physical abuse is a matter for the police to investigate. Where the abuse appears to be of a criminal nature, and either current or historic, we strongly encourage adult complainants to take the matter to the police, and we will support them in doing so. If the complaint or concern involves abuse of a person who is currently under 18 years of age, the Archdiocese’s Child Protection policy requires us to advise the police.
If the abuse is reported to the police, we will not protect the accused/offender from the processes of civil law nor hide the facts from those entitled to know them.
National Office for Professional Standards
The National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) oversees the response to complaints of abuse, from the time a complaint is made. If a review of the process is later requested this will be carried out by an independent person. Virginia Noonan is the Director of the National Office for Professional Standards.
The National Office for Professional Standards oversees the Safeguarding programme in each of the dioceses. This programme raises awareness of abuse, and identifies ways in which people can actively work together to create a safe environment in our Church communities. More information can be found in the Safeguarding section of this website.
If you or someone you know has been abused by a Catholic priest, member of a religious congregation or lay person working for or volunteering for the Church, we strongly encourage you to report the abuse. You may choose to go directly to the Police, and the Church will support anyone who requires assistance to do this.
If you choose to report the abuse to the National Office for Professional Standards we will take what you say seriously – even if you prefer to remain anonymous, and even if the abuse happened many years ago.
You have the right to report your complaint to the New Zealand Police at any stage. If your complaint identifies a level of risk to other people it may be necessary for us to report this to the Police.
Contact information if you wish to report abuse:
National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS):
Tel 0800 114 622, email@example.com
Tel 03 365 1993, 027 540 6778 (Director, Virginia Noonan).
You can be assured of confidentiality whatever way you make contact.