NZ Church leaders issue apology for child sexual abuse in the Church

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Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand have issued a heartfelt apology to survivors of child sexual abuse in the Church.

“Such instances of abuse are intolerable and inexcusable, and to those survivors of such abuse we are sorry,” the apology letter (right) states.

“We are also aware of the many instances where survivors of abuse have suffered further trauma because as a Church community we have not listened to, believed, cared for or supported survivors of abuse. For this too we are truly sorry.”

A royal commission into child abuse will commence in New Zealand later this year, with the first public hearing to be held on Tuesday, October 29. The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry will include those abused in faith-based institutions such as churches and religious schools. Its scope will be broader than Australia’s royal commission, covering not only sexual abuse but also other forms of abuse such as emotional and physical abuse.

Adsafe* general manager Ann Wooldridge encouraged survivors to share their experiences with the royal commission. “It is important for your experiences to be heard and acknowledged,” she said. “The sexual abuse of a child is a terrible crime and is one of the greatest of personal violations against the most vulnerable in our community. Child sexual abuse can have long-term and far-reaching effects on survivors, their families and their community.”

*Adsafe is the independent agency responsible for creating safer environments for children and vulnerable adults in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you would like any further information about the NZ royal commission or you would like to learn more about what our Church is doing to keep children and vulnerable persons safe, please contact Adsafe on 1800 220 468 (Australia) or 0800 442 458 (New Zealand). For more details about the NZ royal commission go to abuseinstatecare.royalcommission.govt.nz.