Bailed former priest’s news coverage unfairly skewed

Sateki Raass

The Auckland diocese is questioning the fairness of a Stuff report concerning the housing of bailed former priest, Sateki Raass.

Communications spokesperson for the diocese, Lyndsay Freer suggests Stuff reporter, Steve Kilgallon seems to have unfairly skewed supplied answers to questions.

On Sunday 12 September Stuff reported the Catholic Church planned to accommodate a priest in a house on the grounds of a primary school; in fact, the presbytery is adjacent to the school, not on the property.

Raass was on bail for sex-messaging a 15-year-old girl.

In her email, Freer also emphasized that at no time did Raass move into the presbytery, but confirmed he used the contact address for bail purposes.

The diocese also told Stuff that while on bail, Raass was suspended from ministry and it understood he stayed with family or friends.

Raass did not tell the diocese where he was residing.

Freer describes the proposed situation as a short-term solution that took advantage of the summer school holidays.

In February, Stuff had already reported Raass had left the priesthood and is in a relationship with a woman with whom he shares a West Auckland home.

Raass was not placed on the sex offenders’ register, he pleaded guilty and was told to serve 100 hours of community service for his offending.

In February, Raass told Stuff that he had made a mistake and it had ruined his career.

In answer to another question from Kilgallon about the Church’s long-term plan to accommodate Raass, the diocese indicated it was a non-question.

It says there was no point in developing a long-term plan because Raass decided to leave the priesthood and his whereabouts would no longer be the responsibility of the diocese.

Not divulging his sources, Kilgallon said that he had heard there had been a prior complaint against Raass.

Freer acknowledged a complaint, several years ago, from an adult woman who chose not to pursue matters any further after Raass admitted to the truth of the accusation and agreed to undertake professional counselling.

Freer told CathNews that when Catholic dioceses receive a priest from overseas, to minister in New Zealand, they require a written statement to attest that the priest is in good standing.

The statement is received from the diocese from which the priest comes.

“When Sateki Raass came to the Auckland Diocese from Tonga in 2006, the Auckland Diocese received a formal document signed by Bishop Foliaki of Tonga dated 12 May 2006, to say that there had been no complaints against him in Tonga prior to his arrival in New Zealand” said Freer.


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