Vatican Decision On Allegations Against Cardinal John Dew “A Whitewash.” Abuse Survivors Publish Letter Of Complaint

For immediate release, New Zealand, 8 July 2024

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in Aotearoa New Zealand, known as SNAP, has made public its letter to the Vatican about a presumed investigation into child sexual assault allegations against Cardinal John Dew, former Archbishop of Wellington.

SNAP wrote to the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Disciplinary Sector, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, responsible for dealing with sexual abuse complaints against clergy. 

A copy of the letter was published on the SNAP Oceania website.

The letter expressed concerns that the Dicastery interviewed only the alleged offender and that another coverup has occurred, this time between the New Zealand Catholic hierarchy, the Vatican, and a Catholic Religious Order known as the Sisters of Mercy.

“To say that your current outcome is a whitewash is an understatement,” SNAP wrote to Fernández. “Protecting the hierarchy at the expense of the people makes it plain that the bona fides of the Dicastery are skewed in favour the hierarchy,” the survivors said.

The letter also urged the Dicastery to reopen this matter. “We urge the Dicastery to publish its report on John Dew. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done,” the letter stressed.

SNAP reports the reason why it made a copy of its letter public is because to date no acknowledgement or reply had been received, not even after follow-up nor when a copy of the letter was sent to Monsignor John Kennedy, a Dicastery secretary in Ireland.

Complainant Steven Carvell was not impressed by the Dicastery’s conduct. “I have to say the Church is like a vault. I expected nothing more to come out of it,” he told SNAP.

Barbara Taylor SNAP Aotearoa's director of survivor support said “sadly, this kind of non-response to requests for more transparency is what survivors repeatedly experience. Only when the media or lawyers get involved is there a response.”

According to the survivors, the Vatican’s disregard for their concerns shows that in effect there has been little to no change made by Catholic Church officials in the way they respond to abuse complaints.

SNAP calls for a more open and transparent approach to dealing with clerical and religious child sexual abuse allegations in the New Zealand Catholic Church. 


For any clarification about this media statement please contact SNAP in Aotearoa New Zealand, [email protected]

Kia kaha! Kia māia! Kia manawanui! / Stay strong! Stay brave! Stay steadfast!

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