Dunedin priest stood down after being accused of sexual misconduct

Stuff [Wellington, New Zealand]

March 1, 2021

By Hamish McNeilly

A Catholic priest in Dunedin has been stood down pending an investigation by his church.

Father Fivins Chittilappilly has been working as an assistant priest in Mercy Parish in South Dunedin since January 2020.

A statement read out at his church’s mass over the weekend said he had been stood down pending an investigation.

The statement, released by Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley, said: “Recently there has been a complaint by an adult person concerning Fr Chittilappilly and this is in the process of being investigated by the Church authorities.”

“During this investigation Fr Chittilappilly will remain in New Zealand but will not be working in ministry or residing in Dunedin Diocese.

“I realise this is a stressful time and ask for your prayers for all involved at this time.”

Dooley declined to comment on the specific allegation to Stuff due to “the wishes of the complainant”.

The Otago Daily Times reported Chittilappilly was being investigated over an allegation of sexual misconduct, and the complaint was laid by a woman.

Assistant priest Father Fivins Chittilappilly has been stood down from Dunedin's Mercy Parish. Google Maps
Assistant priest Father Fivins Chittilappilly has been stood down from Dunedin’s Mercy Parish. Google Maps

Dunedin police had not received any complaints concerning the allegation.

A 2019 announcement about Chittilappilly’s appointment noted he was from the Rosminian Fathers, which had its headquarters in Rome. The church had been caught up in several sex abuse scandals.