AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND)
La Croix International [France]
March 31, 2021
“They (the Vatican) have all the information from the investigation. I really don’t know why he is still a bishop,” says Cardinal John Dew of Wellington
New Zealand Cardinal John Dew is wondering why former Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North, who resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct with a young woman, still remains a bishop.
Pope Francis October 4 accepted Drennan’s resignation over allegations of engaging in “unacceptable behavior of a sexual nature.” The behavior was not with a minor, nor criminal.
The New Zealand Catholic Church’s independent investigation body, the National Office of Professional Standards, had already contracted a licensed investigator to undertake an investigation under the oversight of Cardinal Dew, archbishop of Wellington.
Both Bishop Drennan and the young woman participated in the independent investigation.
Cardinal Dew in answer to questions from counsel Sally McKechnie at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care pointed out that the pope is the only one that can remove a bishop from office.
“They have all the information from the investigation. I really don’t know why he is still a bishop,” said Dew, stuff.co.nz reported.
Drennan still keeps the title of bishop and remains a cleric.
“If (Drennan) was (demoted to being a priest), I think they would have to be very careful where they put him and have clear safeguarding procedures put in place.”
Dew said no-one asked for Drennan’s laicisation.
“I sent in my votum about the complaint and it was up to Rome to decide what his future might be.”
Dew told the Royal Commission that Drennan must follow strict conditions imposed on him and is required to:
- move out of the diocese of Palmerston North
- find accommodation outside the diocese
- not participate in any public ministry whatsoever
- not wear any episcopal attire e.g. a bishop’s ring
- not to participate in any celebration or function as a bishop.
- ordinarily remain in New Zealand, but if he wants to leave the country he has to tell the Apostolic Nuncio, the
Vatican’s diplomatic representative in New Zealand.
Cardinal Dew currently remains the Apostolic Administrator in the Diocese of Palmerston North until a new bishop can be appointed.
“In the eyes of the Catholic church, Bishop Drennan’s behavior was completely unacceptable, and it fully supports the young woman for coming forward,” the cardinal had earlier said in a statement.
“The Catholic Church has no tolerance for any inappropriate behavior by any of its members. I encourage anyone who experiences such behavior to bring it to the attention of the Church, police or any organization with which they feel comfortable,” Cardinal Dew had said.
Bishop Drennan, 60, was a member of Te Roopu Tautoko, the body was established to manage cooperation between the Catholic Church in New Zealand and the Royal Commission into Historic Abuse in Care.
A final report from the royal commission is scheduled to be released in 2023.
The royal commission is looking into physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults between 1950 and 1999.
Bishop Drennan worked for seven years for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State under St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, was appointed co-adjutor Bishop of Palmerston North in 2011 and took over the diocese in 2012.
He accompanied Pope Benedict XVI on a trip and was his translator at public audiences, and wrote speeches for Benedict and John Paul II.
Bishop Drennan had previously been secretary of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference.