NZ abuse survivor hopes to meet Pope

meet pope

A New Zealand sexual abuse survivor, Darryl Smith, has gone to the Vatican to take part in survivor meetings, coinciding with a gathering of the leaders of bishops’ conferences from around the world.

Smith is hopeful of an audience with Pope Francis while in Rome.

With him he is carrying a letter of introduction from Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley.

Dooley helped pay for Smith’s trip, using personal rather than diocesan funds.

Speaking at Auckland Airport before his departure on Tuesday night, Smith said he was excited and nervous ahead of his long flight.

He expected the nerves would be joined by a feeling of anger as he finally met with church officials at the Vatican.

“It depends what they have to say. If they’re negative, I’ll tell them what I think of them.

“It’s going to be quite a big step to go and see these people and actually talk to them,” Smith said.

“I don’t think the Vatican or the Church has accepted anything yet.”

A self-published book, A Shattered Life, outlining his experiences, will be on hand to give to church leaders.

Dooley helped fund the trip after being moved by Smith’s story.

“He’s a survivor who’s actually done extremely well considering what he’s gone through.

“In a way, he represents a lot of other people.”

Referring to a possible meeting with Pope Francis, Dooley said he would not underestimate what Smith could achieve.

“Pope Francis has got a particular interest in smaller places, in the parts of the world that sometimes don’t get much publicity, so who knows?

“It could be that Darryl is regarded as someone who could be a good representative to meet.

“He’s realistic to know that even if he doesn’t … being over there, it’s an important thing that he’s doing.”

Also flying to Rome is Dr Murray Heasley, an Auckland-based spokesman for the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and Their Supporters.

He has been named as New Zealand’s representative on the Ending Clergy Abuse Global (ECAG) group, which is holding five days of meetings and events during the bishops’ gathering.



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