WelCom December 2020
The Catholic Church has appointed an experienced independent investigator to look at whether the former Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop John Kavanagh, took proper action when he received complaints of sexual abuse.
Cardinal John Dew has instructed the Church’s independent complaints body – the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) – to investigate Bishop Kavanagh’s handling of abuse complaints while Bishop of Dunedin from 1957 to 1985.
NOPS has appointed Christchurch senior investigator Micky Earl to conduct the investigation.
Cardinal Dew said a number of victims of abuse in the Dunedin diocese had complained that Bishop Kavanagh – who died in 1985 – had not properly dealt with their complaints of sexual abuse by priests.
Cardinal Dew referred the concerns about Bishop Kavanagh to Rome but was advised that the complaints about Bishop Kavanagh’s handling of abuse complaints do not come within Rome’s scope because he is deceased.
‘I therefore instructed NOPS to undertake an investigation under our Church protocol for matters of abuse, A Path to Healing,’ said Cardinal John. ‘The scope of his investigation will focus on understanding what information Bishop Kavanagh held regarding complaints of sexual abuse, and whether he met his obligations as Bishop in how he responded to and managed those complaints.’
Recommendations will be made to Cardinal John in line with the procedures set out in A Path to Healing. The recommendations could help form the basis of any decision to rename Kavanagh College in Dunedin, which some people have called for.