Pedophile priest appointment shocks Caritas NZ

Caritas New Zealand is shocked and deeply saddened to learn a convicted child abuser Luk Delft, (pictured), a Belgian Salesian priest, was appointed as the Country Director for Caritas Central African Republic (CAR).

Caritas NZ has written to Caritas Internationalis expressing its deep concerns and asking how this was able to happen.

“We have sought reassurance that victims are receiving the support they need and that they are taking all appropriate measures to ensure that a situation like this cannot occur again,” Caritas NZ says in a statement.

The Vatican’s Caritas Internationalis charity says it learned in 2017 of paedophilia concerns involving its Central African Republic director, but left it for his superiors to investigate and he remained in place and in ministry until this year.

Caritas NZ says all member organisations of the international Caritas Confederation are independently managed from within their own countries.

As part of the Confederation, each member is expected to adhere to a Caritas Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct and Children and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy.

Caritas International encourages anyone with a child protection concern to report to the local police, Caritas NZ says.

Earlier this week CNN revealed the scandal concerning Delft; reporting that the Belgian Salesian priest was appointed to lead the charity in the poverty-stricken country despite a 2012 criminal conviction in Belgium for child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

Two new alleged victims in the Central African Republic have been identified since he was posted there.

Former secretary-general of Caritas International (2011-2019) said he did not know of the conviction until this year.

He admits that in 2017 he had been informed by a therapist that Delft should not be in contact with children.

“I informed Caritas CAR about the therapist’s letter and asked them to ensure that the issue was followed up with his order,” Roy said in a statement. “I was told that the issue had been resolved.”

New safeguarding policies were approved in 2018 at Caritas Internationalis, including the creation of a complaints committee and the appointment of Azzopardi as a safeguarding officer this year.

Azzopardi said a canonical investigation has been launched against Delft, as well as a criminal investigation.

International reaction has been swift as the UN suspended work with Catholic charity in the Central African Republic.



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