In response to wide-spread concern at abuse which occurred in faith-based institutions the Government extended the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference to include such abuse and neglect. This was supported by the leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and follows multiple international and national inquiries raising concerns about child abuse in the global Catholic Church.
This investigation will examine abuse which occurred in the care of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Catholic Church has provided care to children, young people and vulnerable adults from the 19th Century, and continues to provide care today. The care provided has extended from its broadest pastoral obligations, to care within different institutional settings and entities including residential and non-residential care and schools. The Inquiry will investigate abuse and neglect that occurred from 1950 to 1999, and has the discretion to consider abuse that occurred before 1950, and from 1999 to the present day.
The investigation will gather information about what happened, why it happened, and the impacts of abuse that may have occurred at the hands of priests, religious or lay employees of the Church. It will investigate whether there are any systemic, structural, institutional or other factors special to the Church which contributed to the abuse occurring or which affected the Church’s response to abuse.
The scope of investigation into the Catholic Church can be read here.
The redress processes of the Catholic Church are being examined in a public hearing on faith-based redress in November and December 2020. More information on this hearing can found here.
During the investigation the Commission will conduct specific case studies on institutions, settings or themes. The first case study in the Catholic Church investigation will focus on Marylands, a residential school for boys, many with disabilities, from the 1950s to 1984. The inquiry is also looking into any abuse by the Hospitaller Order of St John of God brothers at a neighbouring orphanage that was run by another order, and at Hebron Trust, a Christchurch facility for at-risk youth operated by one of the brothers of the St John of God order.
Providing information to the investigation
Victims and survivors of abuse in the care of the Catholic Church, their families and whānau, and people who witnessed abuse, may have important information that helps the Inquiry. Sharing your experience with us will help us investigate and make findings about what happened and why, and make any necessary recommendations to the Catholic Church to prevent and respond to abuse in care in the future.
We acknowledge that sharing experiences of abuse will be difficult, but it is important for these stories and accounts to be told and brought into the light. Please click here to access the Inquiry’s wellbeing information and contact page if you need support at any time.