Vulnerable New Zealand children ‘failed by Church and state’

Complaints of abuse, cruelty and very poor conditions (Pixabay)

New Zealand's most vulnerable children were failed by Church and state, says the head of the NZ National Office for Professional Standards, Otago Daily Times reports.

This week, the newspaper has run a series of stories on abuse within state and Church institutions, including within the Australian-based Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God.

Bill Kilgallon, of the National Office for Professional Standards, told the newspaper that the Church's New Zealand office, created in 2004 to investigate historic abuse claims, had fielded about 22 complaints a year since 2013.

About 20 a year related to "non-recent behaviour against children", either within a church setting or involving clergy within the state care system, he said.

"A number of the complaints we're dealing with would be children who were in state care but placed in an establishment run by the Church - Marylands, for example," he said.

The complaints of abuse, cruelty and very poor conditions showed the level of care by the state or Church was "very often very poor", he said.

And the Church, in particular, "should have achieved better than the state", he believed.

"It comes back to one thing - why are you taking children into care? You're taking them into care because their situation at home is intolerable.

"The obligation therefore, on the state or whoever is providing the alternative care, is to provide something much better than they came from.

"For too many of these children, that wasn't the case. They didn't get anywhere better. In some cases, they got something worse."

Mr Kilgallon, a former priest from Yorkshire, came to New Zealand to retire in 2013, but was instead recruited to take up his new role.

In March, he was also appointed to the Church's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, set up by Pope Francis to advise on the protection of children from sexual abuse.

Mr Kilgallon said increased media scrutiny and public awareness was behind the number of complaints in New Zealand dealt with by his office in recent years.

FULL STORY

Catholic Church (Otago Daily Times)

RELATED COVERAGE

No Justice for a life destroyed (Otago Daily Times)

St John of God response (Otago Daily Times)

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