NZ bishops look into issues raised by Australian Royal Commission

royal commission

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference (NZCBC) is following the response of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference to some of the recommendations made by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in its final report.

The seal of Confession

In a statement, the NZCBC says Confession is often not understood.

“In many cases, the one making a confession remains unidentified,” they say.

“In any case, as has been said by members of the Church in Australia, we note that there is no evidence to suggest that abolition of the seal of confession would genuinely make environments safer for children.”

The NZCBC says the integrity of the Church’s sacraments can sit easily alongside the robust, professionally supervised safeguarding policies the Church puts in place to protect children.

In New Zealand, the Catholic Church has also adopted Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The guidelines set out the New Zealand Catholic Church’s commitment to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

They apply to all dioceses, religious orders and Catholic agencies.

The guidelines look at such things as safe recruitment and safe practice of those working with children or vulnerable adults.

The bishops say their understanding is that any legal move by a government to impose mandatory reporting by health professionals of clients who have abused children becomes a hotly-debated and contested issue.

“Many health professionals argue that client confidentiality is a crucial factor in helping reduce child abuse, as it enables those at risk of abusing to seek the necessary professional help.

“That professional position warrants very careful consideration.”

Priestly celibacy

The New Zealand bishops question the claim made by the royal commission that optional celibacy might have a positive impact on reducing potential child abuse has not been proven.

“No scientific research we are aware of suggests that those abusing adults happen to be celibates.”

The New Zealand bishops point out that priestly celibacy is an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church and in other faith and spiritual communities too.

But they acknowledge that in other contexts in the Church, celibacy is being discussed and this is happening with Pope Francis’ knowledge.


  • Supplied: Amanda Gregan Communications Advisor – NZ Catholic Bishops Te Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa
  • Image: L’Osservatore Romano.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

Tags: , , ,