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The Catholic Church in New Zealand has revealed the extent of alleged abuse perpetrated by those within its ranks.
They have admitted 14 per cent of the diocesan clergy have been accused of abuse against children and adults since 1950.
In addition, the report shows 8 per cent of male congregational members had complaints made against them, while 3 per cent of female congregational members were the subjects of claims.
Of the 1,680 complaints on the record, 80 per cent involve children. Over half of all complaints were reports of sexual harm against a child.
The report draws on records from 428 Catholic parishes, 370 Catholic schools and 67 care institutions in New Zealand.
The figures have been released at the request of the country's Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, which has since been expanded to include churches and other faith-based institutions.
The Royal Commission was set up by New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in 2018. She said the country needs to confront the 'dark chapter' in its history.
Te Rōpū Tautoko, the group that coordinates Church engagement with the Royal Commission, acknowledged that the records will not represent all abuse that has taken place within the Church's ranks.
"Church leaders are committed to ensuring transparency," Te Rōpū Tautoko's Catherine Fyfe said. "Consistent with this principle, we have published this information now, as soon as the work on it has been completed.
"It is important to note that the extent of reports of abuse in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand has not been collated before now."
Cardinal John Dew, President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, said the Church would learn from its past mistakes and build a safer church.
"These statistics on abuse in the Catholic Church going back to 1950 are horrifying and something we are deeply ashamed of," he said.
"I am grateful that so much work has been done in researching the details and making them public.
"As we continue to respond to the Royal Commission into Abuse and we build a safer church for everyone, I firmly hope that facts like these will help us to face the sad reality."
Katherine Anderson, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, thanked all survivors who had helped the inquiry, and said the data was 'sobering'.
"The research is startling, and the heart-breaking reality is that helpless and vulnerable children and adults sit behind these facts and figures," she said.
The Royal Commission is due to deliver its final report in June 2023.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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