Abuse survivor reps travelling to Rome

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley has helped pay for the trip to Rome, using personal...
Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley has helped pay for the trip to Rome, using personal rather than diocesan funds. Photo: ODT files
Two men with Dunedin links are winging their way to Rome to join the fight for "zero tolerance'' of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church.

Dunedin-based sexual abuse survivor Darryl Smith is travelling to the Vatican to take part in survivor meetings, coinciding with a gathering of the leaders of bishops' conferences from around the world.

This week's gathering of about 130 bishops, including New Zealand's Cardinal John Dew, has been called by Pope Francis to discuss the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the church.

Mr Smith is hopeful of an audience with Pope Francis while in Rome, and is carrying a letter of introduction with him from Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley.

Bishop Dooley has helped pay for Mr Smith's trip, using personal rather than diocesan funds.

Pope Francis has summoned key bishops to a summit this month at the Vatican to find a unified...
Sexual abuse survivor Darryl Smith is hoping to have an audience with Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters
Also flying to Rome is Dr Murray Heasley, an Auckland-based spokesman for the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and their Supporters.

Dr Heasley is a former head prefect at St Paul's High School - now Kavanagh College - and a University of Otago graduate.

He has been named as New Zealand's representative on the Ending Clergy Abuse Global (ECAG) group, which is holding five days of meetings and events around the bishops' gathering.

The ECAG gathering will feature 45 delegates from 21 countries discussing the church's handling of abuse, as well as the situation in New Zealand.

Dr Heasley told ODT Insight he would table a resolution as part of the meeting, calling on the Vatican to authorise New Zealand's Catholic bishops to make necessary changes to address the sexual abuse crisis.

That should include instructing bishops to open all archives to independent scrutiny, and the naming of all priests, members of religious orders or church lay officials credibly accused of sexual abuse, he said.

It should also include the removal of all "re-traumatising'' triggers, ranging from photographs of offenders on walls to the names of schools, like Dunedin's Kavanagh College, which honoured those under a cloud, he said.

The Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley, has previously indicated he is considering a public "full disclosure'' of alleged offenders - and the numbers of victims and payouts - within the Dunedin diocese.

He was also still considering calls from some survivors and former pupils for Kavanagh College to be renamed, because of its association with namesake Bishop John Kavanagh.

Much of the historic offending revealed within the diocese since mid-last year had occurred under the watch of then-Bishop Kavanagh, Dunedin's Catholic bishop from 1949 to 1985.

Bishop Dooley would not be drawn on either issue yesterday, except to say he was not aware of Dr Heasley's resolution "but certainly respect[s] his right to express his views''.

He planned to meet Dr Heasley and Mr Smith upon their return to Dunedin to discuss their trips.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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