Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


New Catholic Bishop Of Palmerston North John Adams Criticises Victims And Survivors Of Clergy Abuse

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Aotearoa New Zealand has received several reports of clerical sexual abuse and church-based abuse from victims and survivors in the Catholic Diocese of Palmerston North.

SNAP invited the new Catholic Bishop of Palmerston North, John Adams, to get to know the survivors' network. However, Bishop Adams responded: “I had a look at your Facebook page. I was shocked to be honest at the level of vitriol I found there, indeed an almost complete lack of charity.”

Bishop Adams then emphasised protecting his clergy instead of supporting the victims: “Surely Catholic clergy have a right to both the just scrutiny, and the protection of the law.”

SNAP is disappointed that Bishop Adams judged the survivors’ network by Facebook comments rather than by the official SNAP website or personal conversations with network members.

SNAP reports that Bishop Adams also asked for “assurances” from the network before he would offer support. It is not clear what the Bishop meant by “assurances,” however when asked to clarify, he did not respond.

SNAP reports that one of the biggest concerns when dealing with clerical sexual abuse is that those who bear the ultimate responsibility, who are obliged to support the victims, often blame the victims rather than the abusers.

SNAP canvassed some of its members for responses to Bishop Adams’ comments. The Bishop’s claim that the victims “lack charity” was especially upsetting. “What an unfair reaction, accusing survivors of lacking charity and using that to not support us,” one survivor said. Other responses SNAP received from its members are:

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“The Bishop expects people who are carrying life-shattering trauma memories to speak in soft delicate tones.”

“If anyone dares to say how upset and angry they are about being sexually assaulted by a priest, then he calls that vitriol?”

SNAP reports that if Bishop Adams is judging the survivors’ network by comments people leave on the network’s Facebook page, then he also needs to look at Catholic Facebook pages around the world. He will then see that there are some “nasty and vindictive things” said on them too.

SNAP is aware that the Catholic Church in New Zealand has safeguarding standards which include listening to the abused. Bishop Adams’ reaction to an invitation to get to know a survivors’ network and support the abused, appears to be a violation of those safeguarding standards.

National leader for SNAP in Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Christopher Longhurst stated in response to Bishop Adam’s comments:

“I think it is appalling that any church leader would criticise any victim of clerical child sexual assault or any church-related abuse, accusing them of a lack of charity, or asking for assurances before supporting them. This betrays an utter ignorance around trauma-informed response. Victims and survivors have suffered enough. They deserve unconditional support from all members of the church. Their anger is perfectly justified. It is the lack of charity from church leaders such as this bishop that is shocking.”

National leader for SNAP in Australia, Mr Donald McLeish, also responded to Bishop Adam’s comments:

“They do not realise the pain they have caused and continue to cause. I have no answer but to not expect support when it is not there. The bishop is saying, providing we stop the criticism he will cooperate. We cannot do that while the criticism is warranted.”

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Joining AUKUS Pillar Two

The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...


Government: Backs Police To Crackdown On Gangs
The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell. “Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase... More

Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More

Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.