Call to defrock accused priest

The Catholic priest now accused of leaving more victims in his wake should be defrocked, even now, a theological lecturer says.

Dr Rocio Figueroa, from Good Shepherd Theological College, said the response to clerical child abuse now needed to be ''centred on the victims, not covering up the perpetrators or trying to protect the institution''.

Dr Rocio Figueroa. Photo: YouTube
Dr Rocio Figueroa. Photo: YouTube

Fr Murray, who was convicted of offences against four Dunedin boys in 2003, is now accused of targeting many more boys in the city and further afield.

Now aged 91, he remains a priest in retirement, having never been defrocked, while receiving dementia care at Mercy Parklands, a hospital-level facility owned by the Catholic order Sisters of Mercy.

And, while still the responsibility of the Hamilton diocese despite living in Auckland, the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, has defended the decision not to defrock him.

Dr Figueroa disagreed, saying if he was convicted of his crimes now, there would be ''no possibility'' of continuing as a priest.

And, even now, she believed the same should happen to the 91-year-old.

Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn. Photo: NZ Herald
Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn. Photo: NZ Herald

''I think that if the victims ask, because they want this guy to be laicized, I think it's the right thing to do.

''We have to listen to the victims. The victims have never been listened to, and we have to make justice. The only way we will heal the victims is with justice.''

Dr Figueroa said, even as a practising Catholic, the church's handling of Fr Murray had been ''wrong''.

''We have had a culture of secrecy and silence.

''This silence has benefited the abusers and not the victims.''

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