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Clergy Abuse Survivors Respond To Appointment Of New Catholic Bishop Of Hamilton

Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Richard Laurenson as the new Catholic Bishop of Hamilton.

SNAP expects the new bishop to be more effective than his predecessor, Bishop Stephen Lowe, in supporting victims and survivors of clergy abuse, and in protecting vulnerable persons, especially children, in the NZ Catholic Church.

To that end SNAP asks, where was Fr. Laurenson when:

1. Bishop Lowe made derogatory and unfounded comments about survivor representations to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care?

2. NZ Catholic bishops attempted to shift the blame for priests raping children onto the victims and their parents?

3. Bishop Lowe tried to make sexual abuse in the Church no different from sexual abuse in society?

4. Some of his fellow clerics were raping women across the Hamilton Diocese?

SNAP is informed that the Hamilton Catholic Diocese has multiple unresolved allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

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SNAP holds correspondence to victims and survivors of clergy abuse from the Hamilton Bishop's Office denying their complaints. However, reasons for the denials were not forthcoming.

According to SNAP, Bishop Lowe, without foundation, has accused female complainants of generating situations conducive to abuse by clergy. “Fr. [X] was purely wanting to offer you pastoral care,” Bishop Lowe recently wrote to one female victim who lodged a formal complaint with the NZ Catholic Church’s National Office for Profession Standards, against a Hamilton priest for breach of professional pastoral boundaries.

Bishop-elect Laurenson has asked: “What do we need to be doing in the diocese once the dust settles?”

A positive action on the bishop-elect’s part would be to open up a respectful and continuous line of communication with SNAP and all abuse survivors and their advocates to help resolve the injustices the survivors have suffered and continue to suffer in the Hamilton Catholic Diocese on account of the denial of fair church redress.

SNAP invites the new bishop, Richard Laurenson, to be honest, and fully open and transparent in all of his ministry.

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