New Zealand’s Catholic Church has formally apologized to the survivors of abuse within the church.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, Cardinal John Dew, made the apology on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday Mar. 26.
He said the church offers no excuse for the actions of its present and pervious bishops and congregational leaders that have caused victims harm.
He acknowledged the survivors who had spoken up, those who have not yet been able to speak or may never be able to.
“We acknowledge that the systems and culture of the Church allowed abuse to occur. These systems and culture failed you and must change,” he said.
Dew made his statement during a hearing as part of an inquiry that focuses on resolving historic and current abuse claims in New Zealand’s state care and faith-based institutions.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care was established in 2018 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to tackle the “dark chapter” of the country’s history and is one of longest and most complex commissions of inquiry undertaken in New Zealand, according to CNN.
In December 2020, the Commission released an interim report that estimated that more than quarter of a million people, including children, young people, and vulnerable adults, were abused in state-based and faith-based care throughout the 1960s to early 2000s. The report also found that most of those who had faced abusive treatment were women and girls, people with disabilities or came from Maori and Pacific families.
The report found that the 256,000 victims, mostly aged between 5 and 17, suffered years of abuse, ranging from physical assaults and sexual abuse to medical procedures like electric shock treatment.
The Royal Commission will be writing up a final report with recommendations to the government by January 2023.