Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley has said he is “very interested” in there being a future liturgical gathering to acknowledge the victims of clerical sexual abuse in the diocese and the Church’s failure to handle the issue properly.“Some sort of liturgical gathering has been suggested and I am very interested in doing that. I could envisage it would be in Dunedin. At the moment there are no concrete plans but I am sure these will evolve over the next few weeks,” he told NZ Catholic.

In a letter to the parishioners of the diocese dated August 22, the bishop apologised to the victims and families of those who had been abused by Magnus Murray, a priest who worked in their diocese, and Des Fay, a Christian Brother who taught in Dunedin, saying
“the harm caused to the victims is particularly distressing”.

Only a few months in his office, Bishop Dooley has had to face the controversial topic head on after the secular media reported on historic clerical sexual abuse that happened in
the diocese.

In his letter, Bishop Dooley said hearing about the abuse had been “shocking and painful” for many.

“As I have publicly stated in the media, I apologise as bishop for the suffering endured by victims and their families through this abuse. Children and young people were abused by
representatives of the Church whom they should have been able to trust,” he wrote. “These are crimes that damage us all in our Church community.”

Bishop Dooley wrote that the Church’s handling of this issue has come under scrutiny. “We are open to any investigation to uncover the truth,” he said.

“I am committed to continue the work of ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable adults in our diocese,” he added.

He also encouraged those who had been abused by a priest or a religious to contact his office at 03 474 5750 or the National Office for Professional Standards at 03 365 1993. He said people could also go directly to the police and he gave an assurance of the cooperation
of the diocese in any investigation.

“I thank you for your prayers and support at this difficult time and ask you first of all to remember the victims of abuse and their families as we pray for them and for their healing,” he wrote.

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