Paedophile priest defrocked

Catholic priest Fr Magnus Murray pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to offences against four...
Catholic priest Fr Magnus Murray pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to offences against four Dunedin boys, dating back to between 1958 and 1972, in 2003.

A paedophile priest from Dunedin has finally been defrocked by the Vatican, more than 50 years after his offending was first revealed.

Hamilton Bishop Steve Lowe confirmed today Magnus Murray, now aged in his 90s and receiving hospital-level care at an Auckland rest home, had been defrocked following a judicial process at the Vatican.

Bishop Lowe said the process began in February last year, but had been "a complicated process because of Murray's age and health''.

"Sadly, his removal from the priesthood does not take away any of the harm that Max Murray's criminal abuse inflicted on those he offended against.

"I hope this action may bring some sense of justice being done to those who have been abused.

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"The Catholic Church in New Zealand is committed to acting with justice for those who have suffered abuse.

"Along with recent pronouncements from the Vatican this is another signal that sexual abuse has no place in the Church,'' Bishop Lowe said.

The process is understood to have been initiated by Bishop Lowe, as Fr Murray remained part of the Hamilton diocese despite living in Auckland.

Murray was jailed for five years in 2003 after admitting 10 offences against four Dunedin boys dating back to 1958-1972, but an ODT Insight investigation has heard his offending was just the tip of the iceberg.

His offending in Dunedin was first revealed to then-Bishop John Kavanagh in 1972, who sent him to Australia but later endorsed his return to public ministry in New Zealand's North Island.

He was eventually asked to retire from public ministry in 1990, and ODT Insight has since been told suggestions of further offending may have precipitated the move.

More victims have since come forward, including from Waihi, in the North Island, where Murray served as parish priest after his return to New Zealand.

In recent years he has been living in retirement at Mercy Parklands - owned by the Catholic order Sisters of Mercy - where he retained the title "Father'' and his status as a priest in retirement.

Until today.