Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe has called on all parishioners of the diocese to join him in praying “that the cycle of sexual abuse may be broken” as reports on Fr Magnus Murray (who once worked as a priest in Hamilton diocese and who was convicted in 2003 of sexually abusing four boys from 1958 to 1972 in Dunedin) hit the front pages of the
secular media recently. In a pastoral letter dated August 3, Bishop Lowe assured parishioners “of my commitment to these actions and in particular in working for justice and healing for those who have been abused”.
He encouraged victims of a priest or religious to contact either his office or the National Office for Professional Standards (03 365 1993 firstname.lastname@example.org) “so their story may be heard and their complaint from this tragic chapter in the history of the diocese investigated”.
“Alternately people may choose to go directly to the Police,” he said.
Hamilton Bishop Emeritus Denis Browne made the same call in 2003.
Bishop Lowe said those past offences are the most difficult aspect of his ministry.
“In looking back at these offences it is not my place to judge how things were handled in the past by the Church or civil authorities. I cannot change the past,” he said.
“All I can do is continue to work towards ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable adults in the Church today, to act justly and with compassion towards those who have been abused and to deal appropriately and justly, according to Church and civil law, with those who have abused.”
Bishop Lowe said he will not enter into a debate in the media, adding that many of those who have been abused wish to maintain their privacy. Members of the diocese who want to raise any concerns, though, can contact him.
He asked the people to join him in praying and working towards ensuring a safe Church.
“In the same way let us pray for the wider community as we become increasingly aware of the presence, nature and impact of sexual abuse throughout the whole strata of our communities and the world and that the cycle of sexual abuse may be broken,” he said.