The Church may consider publishing names of abusers

publishing names

The Catholic bishop of Christchurch, Paul Martin, has released a file on child abuser Cornelius O’Brien to one of his victims, a Christchurch man in his 50s.

Martin was asked by RNZ’s Phil Pennington if he thought the church should start publishing the names of clergy whom it had found guilty of abusing children even when a case hadn’t gone through the court.

Pennington suggested that doing so would be a way of helping other victims to come forward.

Martin replied by saying, “Yes, you may be right.” But he pointed out that he didn’t set the policies for the Church.

He agreed that the suggestion was something that he could take to the Bishops’ Conference.

“We will again discuss the cases that are coming up, and the point that you raise we will discuss it again,” he told Pennington.

Martin says there was nothing in the file indicating the church knew of O’Brien’s crime between 1963 when he arrived in Canterbury from the UK, and 1976 when he was convicted in court of indecency against a boy.

Subsequent investigations, however, show he began abusing a 4-year-old boy in 1964.

O’Brien returned to the UK in 1976. Martin said the file showed that the New Zealand church told the UK church about the 1976 conviction and kept tabs on O’Brien, he said.

“In 2004 when the complaint came in here, that complaint then went to England and he was not allowed to be in ministry,” Martin said.

In 1976, a newspaper report from court quotes a doctor’s report saying Father O’Brien was getting treatment for “a severe psychological problem” and if treatment continued then it was “unlikely” he would offend again.

Martin said there’s no evidence O’Brien abused any children after his return to the UK.

In 2008, O’Brien threatened to sue the Christchurch diocese and the victim for libel, but that did not eventuate.

He died in 2012.


News category: New Zealand.

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