Safe Church Programme started for NZ Catholic Church

A Safe Church Programme is to be introduced to the Catholic Church in New Zealand and a person with education experience has been appointed to run it.

Maria Noonan, who will develop and deliver the programme, was introduced at a Safe Church Training Day held in Wellington on July 30.

She will work as part of the Catholic Church’s National Office of Professional Standards (NOPS).

Director Bill Kilgallon said the programme will be for priests, religious, staff and volunteers.

“It is partly about prevention, but is also about awareness-raising really,” Mr Kilgallon said.

“Because there would be many people who attend Church who have been abused, not in the Church, but in families and other settings,” he said.

“And the Church could and should be a place of healing and welcome for them.”

Mrs Noonan is a teacher by background, and also worked for many years in a L’Arche community in the United Kingdom.

Born in New Zealand and with a degree from Otago University, her last job was working with students with poor school attendance.

The training day in Wellington was attended by about 45 people, including members of diocesan sexual abuse protocol committees and representatives from religious orders.

Canon lawyers, people who help NOPS with investigation work, diocesan staff and one bishop also attended.

They heard from Mr Kilgallon and Mrs Noonan, as well as from Msgr Robert Oliver, the promoter of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Msgr Oliver is responsible for dealing with abuse cases that go to Rome and has been called the Vatican’s “point man” for abuse.

He gave those at the Wellington event an overview of the issue “church-wide” and the role of the CDF, as well as discussing the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Mr Kilgallon said Msgr Oliver would have liked the way bishops and religious orders in New Zealand work closely together on this issue.

But the New Zealand church still faces challenges in terms of supporting victims and education and prevention, Mr Kilgallon said.

Those at the training day were told the number of victims coming forward is expected to increase in this country, mostly reporting historic abuse.


  • National Office for Professional Standards
  • Image: MSN Ireland
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News category: Asia Pacific, New Zealand, Top Story.

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