13 Nov 2012

Catholic church to investigate own handling of paedophile priest

9:54 pm on 13 November 2012

The leader of the Catholic church in New Zealand says church officials will investigate the handling of a now-dead paedophile priest in the 1980s.

Serial child sex offender Father Denis McAlinden, who abused dozens of young girls over nearly five decades, spent a year in New Zealand in 1984 before being sent to Papua New Guinea.

It has been revealed that a victim from Hamilton received compensation from the Australian church.

Father McAlinden died in a church-run home in Western Australia in 2005.

Archbishop of Wellington John Dew says he was not aware of the case before it was raised in the media.

But he's confirmed to Radio New Zealand the Hamilton diocese will check its records to see what was known about Father McAlinden's offending and how church leaders responded.

Archbishop Dew says he supports the Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse by priests announced in Australia.

Archbishop Dew, who is the President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, told Checkpoint it would support any similar investigation in this country.

He says nothing would be covered up and any perpetrators should be dealt with in the appropriate way including being dismissed from the priesthood.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Sydney has accused the media of a persistent campaign against the Catholic Church in the wake of the Australian Prime Minister's decision to call a nationwide inquiry.

Cardinal George Pell says the church would of course co-operate with the royal commission, but the Catholic Church was not the principal culprit.

Australian detective feels vindicated

The senior detective in Australia who accused the Catholic Church of covering up child sex abuse says he feels vindicated by the announcement of a Royal Commission.

Detective Inspector Peter Fox last week made comments that prompted the most comprehensive inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia's history.

He said the clergy were deliberately obstructive, even destroying evidence.

Mr Fox, who is currently on stress-related sick leave, says he has faced opposition from within the police force since speaking out.

But he says the Royal Commission makes that all worth it and says it's time the church made changes to bring it into line with the expectations of today's society.