Palmerston North parishioners process Bishop Charles Drennan's shock resignation

By Paul Mitchell
Manawatu Standard
October 6, 2019

Parishioners will have a chance to ask questions about Drennan's resignation at a special church prayer meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.

A prayer meeting has been set up for Palmerston North's Catholic community in the wake of the news of Bishop Charles Drennan's fall from grace.

Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Charles Drennan's resignation, which was announced on Friday night, over a complaint made by a young woman in regards to "unacceptable" behaviour of a sexual nature. On Saturday it was revealed it was not the first sexual misconduct complaint made against Drennan.

It wasn't until Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Broadway Ave, the church where Drennan was officially acknowledged as the city's bishop in 2012, that many of his parishioners heard about his resignation.

Monsignor Brian Walsh sombrely informed the congregation of the news and announced a prayer meeting and question and answer session would be held at the cathedral on Monday evening.

"This has all come about due to the saddest and most unfortunate situations, which Bishop Charles has apologised for and deeply regrets," Walsh said.

The pope has appointed Cardinal John Dew, the Metropolitan Archbishop of New Zealand, to administer the Diocese of Palmerston North until another bishop was found.

Walsh asked the congregation to respect the woman involved's request for privacy and not to share any additional information they may know. 

"This a difficult time for the young woman and her family and for those that worked with and knew the parties concerned.

"I implore you to respect her wishes and to pray for all involved."

A parishioner, who did not wish to be named, said while some had seen details of Drennan's resignation in the news, many of the congregation were only just finding out on Sunday morning. 

It was sad to see a respected bishop like Drennan fall short of the expectations and duties of his office, she said.

"But who are we to judge. We all come to church to ask for blessings and forgiveness. We're all human, with human failings."

She appreciated Walsh's candour about the matter with the congregation and that they would get a chance to ask questions about how it will affect the diocese at Monday's meeting.

Drennan had been on leave for several months while an investigator contracted by The New Zealand Church's independent investigation body, the National Office of Professional Standards, looked into the allegations. 

Both Drennan and the young woman participated in the investigation, which led to the resignation.


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