The Catholic Church is defending its decision not to defrock a paedophile priest who abused boys in Dunedin.
It was confirmed this week Magnus (Max) Murray, now 90, is still alive and in the care of a Catholic-owned rest-home in Auckland.
Despite admitting 10 charges of sexual offending against boys in Dunedin, dating back to the 1950s, Fr Murray has retained his status as a priest following his conviction in 2003, the church has confirmed.
It was a discovery that outraged Murray Heasley, the head of a group of former pupils campaigning for Kavanagh College to adequately acknowledge its links to Fr Murray’s dark past.
He was a teacher at St Paul’s High School, which later became Kavanagh College, at the time of his offending.
A picture of him was on the college’s honours wall until earlier this year, when a complaint from Dr Heasley and 12 other former pupils prompted its removal.
Dr Heasley said the church’s handling of Fr Murray was another insult to victims.
He was at Mercy Parklands, a hospital-level facility owned by the Catholic order, Sisters of Mercy, where he was receiving dementia care.
The religious, not-for-profit facility offered a mix of Catholic and non-religious services, including a chapel, but catered for the general public.
Although in retirement, the priest still used the title of “Father” at the home, including on the sign on his bedroom door, it was confirmed.
“This is not justice,” Dr Heasley said.
“The man is living the life of Riley and his victims are still suffering.
“Why is he still a priest? What does it take to lose your priestly status?”
Bill Kilgallon, the director of the Catholic Church’s National Office for Professional Standards in New Zealand, which investigates complaints against clergy, said the situation would not be “normal process” today.
If a member of the clergy was convicted of child abuse now, a request to defrock them a process know as laicisation, or returning them to the status of a lay person would be sent to the Vatican.
Otago Daily Times