Church could defrock paedophile priest after all

The Catholic priest from Dunedin at the centre of fresh child sex abuse revelations could be defrocked after all, just as a North Island victim of his offending comes forward.

Hamilton Bishop Steve Lowe last night confirmed the Church's refusal to defrock Fr Magnus Murray would be reconsidered. In 2003, Fr Murray had been convicted for offences against four Dunedin boys.

''Yes,'' Bishop Lowe said, when asked by Otago Daily Times Insight if defrocking would be considered again.

''The Church has its own judicial processes for laicising [defrocking] a priest. As this involves a judicial process I am unable to comment further,'' he said.

His comments came a day after Dr Rocio Figueroa, from Good Shepherd Theological College in Auckland, renewed calls for Fr Murray to be defrocked despite his age and ill health.

''The only way we will heal the victims is with justice,'' she said.

Yesterday, a former Waihi resident, who ODT Insight has agreed not to name, joined that call while revealing his abuse by Fr Murray.

The man was at Waihi's St Joseph's Catholic School when Fr Murray was the parish priest at St Joseph's church, also in Waihi, in the early 1980s.

He and other boys from the school would be delivered messages in class asking them to bring something to Fr Murray's home nearby.

He recalled being stroked and fondled, and sometimes digitally penetrated by Fr Murray, during visits to the home.

''I remember it vividly. I can still recall the feeling.

''But because he was the priest . . . you didn't question it, that's for sure.''

He also recalled Fr Murray sliding his hands down pupils' backs, inside their tops, or encouraging groups of boys from the school to play sports.

''He would sit and watch.''

The man said he began to move on only after confiding in a girlfriend, receiving counselling and moving overseas.

He returned in 2011, but only told his parents after overhearing them talking about Fr Murray's abuse of another Waihi boy.

His father, he said, ''would have killed'' Fr Murray if he was still in town.

''This is somebody you were supposed to trust.

''I do hope the church cross him off,'' he said.

Fr Murray, now aged 91, remained a priest in retirement despite being asked to step down from public ministry in 1990, as further allegations swirled, and his 2003 conviction.

He was receiving dementia care at Mercy Parklands, a hospital-level facility in Auckland, owned by the Catholic order Sisters of Mercy, but remained the responsibility of the Hamilton diocese.

The church repeatedly defended the decision not to defrock him, including when a spokeswoman for the Auckland diocese last year argued it had to ''allow for redemption''.

Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, speaking as ODT Insight completed its investigation last week, also defended the stance.

Defrocking him could ''possibly'' send a powerful signal to victims, but would also amount to the church ''washing our hands of him'', he said.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Comments

Anybody else would be in prison,this deviant should be defrocked immediately.

 

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