(5 Oct 2019) Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a New Zealand bishop over what church officials said was his “completely unacceptable” sexual behaviour with a young woman.
Charles Drennan of Palmerston North had offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to a statement from Cardinal John Dew, head of the church in New Zealand.
The Vatican said Friday that the pope had accepted the resignation.
The removal is significant since the Catholic Church has long considered sexual relationships between clerics and adult women to be sinful and inappropriate, but not criminal or necessarily worthy of permanent sanction.
Drennan was a member of the New Zealand church team of priests and sisters selected to respond to the country’s Royal Commission inquiry into sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults in state and faith-based care between 1950-1999.
Cardinal Dew said the woman made a complaint and the New Zealand church’s investigative body contracted an outside investigator to evaluate her claim.
Both Drennan and the woman participated in the investigation.
Details of their relationship were not released.
The woman asked for information from the complaint to remain private, Dew said.
Dew praised the woman for coming forward and said she was continuing to receive support from the church as well as her family.
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