6 Apr 2010

Celibacy not reason for abuse by clergy - archbishop

3:16 pm on 6 April 2010

The most senior member of the Catholic Church in New Zealand says he does not believe the vow of celibacy is the reason for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

During the Easter weekend, Archbishop John Dew apologised to members of the Wellington diocese for the humiliation, embarrassment and disappointment resulting from the abuse of children by priests in several countries.

Archbishop Dew says the church is doing all it can to find out why the abuse by clergy has occured.

The Archbishop says he wants victims to know the church in New Zealand will not sweep these issues under the carpet.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by accusations of abuse by paedophile priests in recent weeks, many dating back decades.

The Church, including Pope Benedict XVI, has also been accused of mishandling or covering up cases.

NZ inquiry sought

The Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust says it wants an inquiry in this country into allegations of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.

Spokesperson Ken Clearwater told Morning Report that having processes in place does not mean the claims are properly dealt with.

He said there needs to be an inquiry similar to those undertaken in Ireland, Canada and Australia.

However, Archbishop Dew says the Government is welcome to start an investigation into cases of sexual abuse by clergy, but the church won't be initiating one.

He says a former police commissioner who is not a Catholic, was appointed a few years ago to review abuse cases if the victim was not happy with the result.

Archbishop Dew says the church has nothing to hide and its doors are open if the Government wants to investigate.