Vatican will be terrified of state inquiry, whistleblower says

3:42 pm on 8 March 2018

An international Catholic whistleblower says the Vatican will be "quaking in fear" in case the New Zealand Catholic Church is included in an inquiry into abuse.

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Photo: 123RF

The Government has repeatedly stated it wants to leave Churches and other non-state institutions out of the upcoming Royal Commission.

Some survivors of clerical abuse are pushing for Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand to reverse that during the current public consultation phase.

"I do not know of an inquiry that has taken place that has limited itself in such a way," said Father Tom Doyle, of Virginia, who's been involved in a dozen-plus abuse inquiries around the world and across the US.

The one-time canon lawyer first blew the whistle on the global abuse scandal in 1984 and his work featured in the Academy Award-winning film Spotlight.

An inquiry that excluded the Church, except where the State sent a child into its care, would please the Vatican.

"They'd be very interested if an inquiry's going to take place and I'm sure they would be quaking in fear that this inquiry is going to resemble what happened in Australia."

It was likely the Vatican had told Bishops in New Zealand not to lobby the Government to be included in the inquiry, he said, despite survivors asking them to - and despite a leading layman, Bill Kilgallon, who till recently was on the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, saying the Church should be included.

"From my experience, which is very extensive, is that the Cardinal and the Bishops are probably very, very fearful of a complete inquiry taking place, because they can look 2000 miles away and see what happened in Australia, and that was the most thorough examination of sexual abuse of children in the history of the world and I was involved in it, and I've seen the results."

The Communications Advisor to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops, Amanda Gregan, said she was not aware if the Vatican has told local Bishops not to lobby to be included in the Royal Commission.

The New Zealand Cardinal John Dew has not responded to RNZ's repeated requests to publicly state whether he will ask the Government to include the Church.

Such a call coming from the Cardinal or a Bishop was very different than it coming from Mr Kilgallon, Father Doyle said.

The Children's Minister Tracey Martin announced the Royal Commission, expected to last three years and cost at least $40 million, saying: "This is about the people, not the institutions."

This was alarming, said Father Doyle.

"They're bypassing the most important dimension of this whole scandal, which is the enabling that the institutions have done to enable the perpetrators, the abusers, to do what they've done, and the power of the institutions also to avoid any accountability.

"And so the victims are gonna say 'what's the use'.

"You don't have to have a major investigation to determine the damage done to the victims, that's already been determined, I mean we know what that is - the criminals are gonna get away with it."

He had heard from many New Zealand survivors over the years.

"The way they had been treated by the church over there has been completely shameful, it's extremely disturbing. There are victims who are living in hope that someday they will be vindicated. That the government, that the society will recognise and acknowledge what happened to them."

Meantime, Australian media is reporting that the Philippines ambassador to New Zealand, Jesus 'Gary' Domingo has thanked Anthea Halpin, a victim of Father Denis McAlinden who abused children in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

She has gone public, using her real name, calling on the Australian Catholic Church to take responsibility for sex crimes against children in developing countries.

The Philippines owed her "a debt of gratitude for her courage", said Mr Domingo.

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