Abuse can be sexual, physical or emotional. The Church takes reports of all forms of abuse seriously. Criminal sexual or physical abuse is a matter for the police to investigate. If the victim or survivor chooses to report the abuse to Police, the Church will cooperate with the civil law processes and will provide the known facts to the authorities. The Church encourages the victim or survivor to report criminal allegations to Police and will support them in doing so.
A protocol for dealing with complaints of abuse was established by the bishops in 1993 called A Path to Healing, Te Houhanga Rongo (APTH). This document was initially published in 2007 and revised in 2010. It is currently undergoing a new revision, which will be published on this site once completed. The Church is indebted to those who have come forward, and encourages others who have experienced abuse to do the same.
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) and Congregation Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand (CLCANZ) work together through the Mixed Commission and it is this body which has the responsibility for APTH. Revised versions have been documented, with the latest version published in 2010. There have been more recently approved changes to APTH. Those changes are not reflected in the published version, but form part of a revision process which is currently underway.
In May 2000 the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference adopted 'Integrity in Ministry' as its official statement of Professional Standards for Clergy and Institutes of Consecrated Life in the six dioceses of New Zealand.
The Catholic Church in New Zealand has many lay employees and volunteers, and the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference adopted 'Standards for Volunteers and Employees in Ministry' in August 2008. This document is currently being revised and the new edition will be published on this website.
National Office for Professional Standards
The bishops and congregational leaders established the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) to oversee the response to complaints of abuse. Virginia Noonan is the Director of the National Office for Professional Standards. Since 2009, the role of the National Office for Professional Standards has included oversight of all complaints from the time the complaint is made, through the independent investigation and conclusion. If a review of process is later requested this will be carried out by an independent person, not the National Office for Professional Standards. For the most up-to-date guidelines visit Guidelines for the prevention of and response to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand
If you, or someone you know has been abused by a Catholic priest or member of a religious congregation, we urge you to seek counselling and healing. You do not have to report the abuse to the Church, but if you do the Church will take your story seriously – even if you prefer to remain anonymous, and even if the abuse happened many years ago. Your call will be taken with sensitivity and confidentiality.