TV New Zealand, reporting on the Royal Commission in NZ stated that NZ Catholic Church moved certain brothers or priests who had sexually abused children to Fiji.

A person, giving his testimony as a victim of sexual abuse, has alleged to have been sexually abused by one of the brothers who was moved from New Zealand.

The media has asked for my comments and reactions:

First and foremost, I empathise with people who are victims of sexual abuse. I empathise with their hurt, anger, trauma and feelings. I empathize with the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience. I empathize with the brokenness they have to live with and affect the way they relate to others.

As head of the Fiji Catholic Church, I feel ashamed with the behavior of our church personnel.

I feel angry. There is a heaviness in my heart yesterday and today. My first reaction was not to want talk to the media.

On behalf of the Catholic Church in Fiji I express our remorse for past failures and extend our sincere regret and deep sympathy to peoples-victims of sexual abuse.

The Church apologizes unreservedly for any abuse perpetrated by clergy or religious.

Sexual abusers have failed the ‘Sixth Commandment’ – You must not commit adultery.

How does the Catholic Church respond to allegations of sexual abuse?

The Catholic Church has learnt from our weakness.

2011 CIRCULAR LETTER: TO ASSIST EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES IN DEVELOPING GUIDELINES FOR DEALING WITH CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSES OF MINORS PERPETRATED BY CLERICS

2014 Archdiocese of Suva

The Catholic Church in Fiji published its “Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Abuse” in 2014.

The Guideline states clearly that if anyone has suffered abuse by a priest or religious – or by anyone working for the Church – then that person should, in the first instance, report the matter to the police as soon as possible, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. (37.1 & 37.6).

Furthermore, the Church should not interfere in any with the proper processes of criminal or civil law.

Pope Francis in May 2019 released new Vatican Laws Concerning Sexual Abuse – ‘Vos Estis

Lux Mundi’(You are the light of the world). The Pope made it Church law throughout the world, that any clergy or religious who are told of sexual abuse, must report the matter to civil authorities and to religious superiors.

That law came into effect on 1 June 2019 and is available on the Vatican website and from the Archdiocesan office.

The new law is a procedural law, setting up a solid reporting system

The new law focuses on three main points: mandatory reporting, the institution of the metropolitan model to investigate bishops and others who are in positions of authority, and the obligation to establish in every diocese and eparchy a stable and easily accessible system to report abuse and cover-up.

The Archdiocese of Suva is strongly committed to the protection and safety of all people, especially the vulnerable and children.

The Archdiocese takes all reports of abuse very seriously and reports them to civil authorities where required, and investigates the accusations
thoroughly and independently.

If the allegation is deemed credible, the accused is permanently barred from ministry and from serving in any capacity on behalf of the Archdiocese or any Catholic institution.

I also strongly encourage anyone who has been abused or who knows of abuse to see that the matter is reported to the Church – the report is best made to the Safeguarding Officer, Mr Berenado Daveta 8695277.

The matter will be investigated independently.

How does the Church ensure accountability on the protection of minors?
 If a priest or religious is coming to work in Fiji, that person as well as that person’s religious superior must sign a document stating there have been no accusations or incidences of sexual or other abuse.

That person would also be required to show a police clearance from their country.
 Those attending the seminary are required to undergo police clearance and psychological testing and training

 A Safeguarding training was held on July 3-6, 2017 for Priests, Teachers, School Managers, Trainers.

 We have a Safeguarding Policy that includes: Code of conduct for Working and Ministering to Minors and Schools, Guidelines of Pastoral Counseling of Minors, Guidelines for Ministry to Minors Conclusion

Sexual abuse is a serious problem in our society, not only in Catholic Church.

On behalf of the Catholic Church I apologize to victims of abuse, to their families, and to Fijian society – for the hurts inflicted on them by some of our priests, brothers and lay workers.

This is a cause of great shame. The overwhelming number of priests and religious are faithful men and women who share the horror and grief that all people feel when sexual abuse is brought to light.

The procedures the Archdiocese of Suva follows today represent a serious and genuine effort to help victims of abuse and to eradicate sexual abuse from the Church.

We continue to work to learn from past experience and from the experience of victims to ensure that the danger of sexual abuse is prevented in the future.

For the Church and for the Archdiocese of Suva, prevention, justice and healing for victims of sexual abuse always come first.

May God heal our society.

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