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NZ's Catholic Church apologises to abuse survivors in royal inquiry, says change needed

The leaders of New Zealand’s Catholic Church have formally apologised to survivors of abuse and says change is needed.

Appearing at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, Cardinal John Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington and president of New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, said the church was listening to survivors and were sorry.

“I apologise to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said.

“I also apologise to you on behalf of those who preceded us as bishops and congregational leaders. We offer no excuses for their actions, or for ours, that have caused you harm.”

He acknowledged the abuse had caused people continued pain, hurt and trauma.

The church opened its evidence about how it handled complaints at the inquiry on Monday.

Dew told the Commission the church was ashamed about what had happened.

“I repeat what I have said before, any kind of abuse is unacceptable and indefensible. We are deeply sorry,” he said today.

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“We acknowledge that the systems and culture of the Church allowed abuse to occur. These systems and culture failed you and must change.”

He finished with a personal apology.

“I personally apologise for when I have failed to listen, learn, and act in ways that would have put you first. I am profoundly sorry, and I am ashamed.

“I commit to acting with you and your stories and experiences in mind.”

There are six dioceses and 43 religious orders or congregations that make up the Catholic Church in New Zealand.