'Working' on new name for Kavanagh

Kavanagh College. Photo: ODT files
Kavanagh College. Photo: ODT files

The Catholic Bishop of Dunedin is still not ready to decide on a name change for Kavanagh College, but insists he is ‘‘working quite hard’’ on the issue.

Bishop Michael Dooley was commenting as ODT Insight yesterday asked him for updates on the issues of historic abuse being tackled within the Dunedin diocese and nationally.

Among those issues was a push by survivors, their supporters and a group of former Kavanagh College pupils to rename the Dunedin Catholic college.

Michael Dooley
Michael Dooley
Bishop Dooley had delayed a decision in November, despite months of revelations about historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese — much of it under then-Bishop John Kavanagh — a public meeting and a petition.

Instead, he would only say at the time he was ‘‘seriously’’ considering a name change, without giving a timeline.

He declined to give a time-line again yesterday, saying he was still listening to arguments on both sides.

‘‘There’s been people approach me about it, and I’m definitely well into the process of doing that.’’

It was a ‘‘major decision’’ which would affect many lives, but one that needed to be made, he said.

‘‘One way or another, something’s got to be done.’’

And, at the same time, Bishop Dooley said a ‘‘level of uncertainty’’ remained over the church’s role in an expanded Royal Commission into historic abuse.

The Government announced in November the inquiry would be expanded to include the abuse of children ‘‘in the care of’’ faith-based institutions, but the extent of what was covered — or excluded — has yet to be defined.

That left some survivors and supporters fearing the actions of some abusive priests — like Fr Magnus Murray, who abused victims in a variety of settings, including family homes — might be overlooked.

The terms of reference were being reviewed by the inquiry’s chairman, Sir Anand Satyanand, the other commissioners and legal counsel, and decisions on the scope were due to be announced soon.

The church had formed a new group, Te Ropu Tautoko, to engage with the inquiry once it got under way.

But Bishop Dooley said until final decisions were made on the scope of the inquiry, ‘‘we’re not really exactly sure what’s expected of us or what we’re meant to do’’.

‘‘They’ve been reviewing all that and they’ve just said ‘we’ll get back to you when it’s done’.

‘‘I think it’s good they’re having the inquiry, but it’s becoming obvious that there are people as it’s framed at the moment who aren’t covered by it. That could lead to problems, I think.’’

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