Catholic Church calls on Vatican to investigate case of priest sexting



Sateki Raass left the priesthood after pleading guilty.

David White / Tips

Sateki Raass left the priesthood after pleading guilty.

The head of the New Zealand Catholic Church has asked the Vatican for permission to open an investigation into the handling of complaints about a priest who treated a teenage girl.

Sateki Raass resigned from the priesthood after being convicted in 2019 of indecent communication with a girl under 16 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

A series of stories from Thing has since unraveled the handling of the case by the Diocese of Auckland. This includes Bishop Patrick Dunn’s original plans – all subsequently reversed – not to tell school communities attached to Raass Parish, to allow Raass to say mass after his arrest, and to release him into custody. deposit in a presbytery attached to another primary school despite the deposit conditions prohibiting contact. with those under 16.

Dunn also told parishioners that Raass’s offense was just an “inappropriate text message,” paid for a QC to represent Raass, and did not directly apologize to the victim’s family.

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The girl’s aunt testified before the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care, which triggered a letter of complaint from a support group, The Network of Survivors in Faith-based Institutions and Their Supporters.

Group leaders Liz Tonks and Murray Heasley wrote to the Catholic Bishops‘ Conference – the group of five New Zealand bishops.

Among their criticisms of Dunn were his lack of focus on the victim, his downplaying of Raass’s offense and the fact that Raass had been dismissed from his post when Dunn had originally planned to let him say another mass. before being arrested by the authorities.

The Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn.


The Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn.

“Bishop Dunn has had the opportunity to make things better … but has acted to the public disgrace of the institution he represents.”

Cardinal John Dew responded with a letter saying the issue was his responsibility and had referred it to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a Vatican committee that oversees much of the world church.

“I have attached your letter to the documents I sent to Rome and asked for permission to open an investigation into how this case was handled,” he wrote.

Dew said he also alerted Archbishop Novatus Rugamba, a Tanzanian cleric based in Wellington and the Pope’s representative in the Pacific region.

The investigative process is that put in place by Pope Francis in 2019 reserved for complaints against bishops and was used that year when the Bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, was forced to resign (although not removed from the priesthood) after admitting allegations of sexual misconduct.

Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, is the head of the New Zealand Church.

Robert Kitchin / Tips

Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, is the head of the New Zealand Church.

After Thing wrote another story on October 3, which revealed that a previous complaint against Raass while in Tonga had not been forwarded to Auckland Church, Tonks and Heasley wrote to Dew again, who responded by saying: “I can assure you that this material will be forwarded to Rome to be added to the material already sent.

When Stuff called Dew’s cell phone, a woman answered and, after a muffled conversation in the background, said Dew was “not available for comment.” When asked if he would ever be available, she replied that he was very busy.

In response to an email follow-up request, Dew wrote: “I am obligated to send information to Rome if there is a possibility that the processes will not be followed”.

He explained that the Pope demanded that any complaint relating to the bishops be referred to Rome. “I asked Rome if there was anything to be investigated further. My reference to Rome is without prejudice to the actions of Bishop Dunn.

Dunn spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said dismissals to Rome was an issue Dew needed to comment on.



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