Cardinal Dew left angered and disappointed

John Dew

Cardinal John Dew is left deeply disappointed and angered that Bishop Charles Drennan has had to resign.

“My reaction is one of great disappointment that this happened at this time in the Church when we are really striving to do all we can to make sure people are safe, that we have safe-guarding policies, and yet this has still happened.

“It’s a time of anger and deep disappointment for me and many other people,” he told RNZ, Saturday from St Peter’s Square, Rome.

Dew says the behaviour was not sexual assault but involvement of a sexual nature and that “Any sexual behaviour in a pastoral situation is totally inappropriate”, he said.

RNZ reports the police are not investigating as the behaviour was inappropriate but not illegal.

Community reaction

People’s responses to Drennan’s resignation are wide-ranging.

Academic, retired professor Peter Lineham, described the handling of Drennan’s resignation as “precedent-setting” by the Catholic Church.

“This (transparency) is the very issue which has been at the heart of concerns that the Church has often not addressed things cleary or explicitly,” he told RNZ.

He said it suggested that the church had realised it had to change.

“I think Cardinal Dew has been absolutely on the mark in the way he has very firmly ensured that the girl’s privacy is protected, but she’s offered support.”

Lineham’s comments are echoed by several Sunday mass-goers.

“I’m pleased they have said something. It’s difficult to know how much they can say”, said Annie.

“Just when things seemed to be settling”, commented Graeme.

Sara said she felt very sad for all involved. “It just goes to show, priests are humans, and we all have feet of clay,” she said.

“Who are we to judge…We’re all human, with human failings” said an anonymous parishioner of the Palmerston North Cathedral parish.

However, not all agree.

“Who are we to judge? Well, who else will judge? The tooth fairy?” responded Murray Heasley on Facebook.

Heasley is the spokesman for the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions.

Another, Steve Goodlass, who co-founded a survivors support group on Facebook, says the Church needs to be more transparent.

He told RNZ the statement “raises more questions than it answers”.

“The statement from the Church is very, very sparse on detail, and it would be good to find some clarification on what has actually happened.”

However during Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North, Vicar General of the diocese, Fr Brian Walsh asked the congregation to respect the young woman’s privacy and not 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.”

The future

Commenting to OneNews, in a statement, Drennan described the situation as not one of sides, or opposing voices.

He told OneNews that now that the Vatican has accepted his resignation, he has nothing further to add.

Clarifying Drennan’s status, Dew said that Drennan is no longer the bishop of the Palmerston North diocese, and it is completely over to Pope Francis to decide what his future will be.

Dew has been appointed Administrator of the Palmerston North diocese until a replacement is found. He will also replace Drennan on Te Rōpū Tautoko, the Catholic support group for the Royal Commission into the Abuse in Care.


Note to commenters

In relation to this story CathNews has received several comments about sexual abuse.

One thing we do know is the story is not about sexual abuse but sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Other commenters write assuming they know details.

Our publication of wide-ranging potentially inaccurate comments is unjust and no doubt illegal.

Comments are closed.


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