The New Zealand Catholic Church apologized for the abuse within the church on Friday. The Archbishop of Wellington, John Dew, has apologized to the royal commission charged with investigating abuse in church care facilities.
“Today, given the importance of this moment, I express my regret. I do so on behalf of the bishops and other religious leaders,” Dew said. “I also apologize on behalf of the bishops and leaders of the Catholic Church who have gone before us.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the creation of the Royal Commission in 2018, saying the country faces “a dark page in its history”. Although the research initially focused on church care institutions, the churches themselves and other religious institutions were later added.
An interim report released last December shows that between the 1960s and the start of the 21st century, up to a quarter of a million vulnerable children, youth and adults were physically and sexually assaulted in institutions.
Babies as young as nine months old have been abused
Babies as young as nine months have reportedly been abused by coworkers, clergy and foster parents. Among other things, the victims were raped and underwent electroconvulsive therapy.
“We recognize that the system and the culture within the Church made this abuse possible. This system and this culture let you down,” Dew said.
The royal commission will advise the government on this later this year.