New Zealand Cardinal Dew denies allegations amid Vatican investigation into alleged abuse — By: Catholic News Agency

Cardinal John Dew in 2016. / Credit: Screenshot / YouTube / Responsibility

CNA Newsroom, Mar 7, 2024 / 10:25 am (CNA).

The Vatican is launching an investigation into a claim of historical sexual abuse against New Zealand Cardinal John Dew, according to a public letter published by the Archdiocese of Wellington on Thursday.

Addressing the Catholic community of the country in the Pacific Ocean, Archbishop Paul Martin, SM, of Wellington wrote on March 7 that the Church inquiry into allegations against Dew was launched after a police investigation concluded without charges. 

The allegations date back to the 1970s and involve an alleged incident at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Upper Hutt, roughly 20 miles northeast of Wellington, where Dew, then an assistant priest, is accused of abusing a 7-year-old boy.

Police investigated claims made by a man who alleges Dew sexually abused him — then an assistant priest — at St. Joseph’s Orphanage when he was 7 years old. 

Despite the absence of charges, Dew, who retired as archbishop of Wellington at the age of 75 last May, continues to refrain from participating in public ministry pending the outcome of the Church’s own Vos Estis Lux Mundi investigation.

“Inquiries by the Church are not run concurrently to those being undertaken by the police. Now that the police investigation has concluded, Cardinal John continues to stand aside while Church inquiries proceed,” Martin stated in his letter to the nation’s estimated 400,000 Catholics.

Dew has consistently denied the allegations. He reiterated his innocence and highlighted his commitment to his episcopal motto, “Peace through integrity,” in a letter provided to CNA dated March 7.

The cardinal wrote: “I do not know the person making the allegations and have never met him. The allegation against me is false, it may come from a well of anguish and grief arising from other reasons.”

“I am acutely aware of how distressing this is for many: survivors who have put their trust in me, our Church community, and my family and friends. I state once again that all incidents of abuse are wrong. I hope and pray that all abuse victims will find peace and healing.”

Following the protocol of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Church inquiry aims to ensure a thorough and impartial examination of the claims against Dew.

Archbishop Martin noted Thursday that this had “been a distressing situation for all involved. I would ask that we pray for all those affected and offer support where we can.”

Dew, born in 1948 in Waipawa, New Zealand, has been a prominent figure in the Catholic Church in New Zealand and internationally.

Ordained as a priest in 1976, Dew served in various pastoral roles before being appointed as the archbishop of Wellington in 2005. Pope Francis elevated him to the cardinalate in 2015.

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