Vatican authorities order second investigation of former Dunedin priest

NZ Herald

The Vatican has ordered a further investigation into the behaviour of Fr Fivins Chittilappilly.

Chittilappilly had been working in New Zealand as an assistant priest in Mercy Parish South Dunedin since January 2020.

However, following a complaint of sexual harassment from an adult woman, towards the end of last year, he was stood down from working in ministry and residing in the Dunedin Diocese.

He left the diocese late last year.

In March the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley (pictured) told the Otago Daily Times (ODT) the church’s procedures began immediately once the complaint was made and the Church’s authorities were engaged in an investigation of the complaint and that included the Church’s National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS).

NOPS reported back to Dooley.

However, in a move that surprised some, Dooley announced the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has directed him to conduct a further investigation into the priest’s behaviour.

Dooley provided the update to the ODT on Sunday.

Dooley told the ODT the further church investigation will involve taking statements and examining evidence.

It would be undertaken by canon lawyers — men and women in the church who are trained in canon law.

“The lockdown in Auckland has unfortunately delayed the process but I am hopeful that it will be completed as soon as possible,” he added.

The ODT Sunday report does not say why a second investigation is necessary nor specifically how it will differ from the Church’s NOPS process.

The NOPS process has been agreed to by all the New Zealand Catholic Bishops and leaders of New Zealand’s religious orders.

Sources told CathNews Chittilappily had complied with the initial investigation and subsequently done what was asked, did not engage in ministry and lived outside the Dunedin diocese waiting to hear the final result of the NOPS inquiry from Dooley.

However, on Sunday, Dooley told the ODT that Chittilappily had left New Zealand in September and returned to India because his visa to remain in New Zealand had expired.

“He is now living in a Rosminian house in India, under supervision, and is not involved in any public ministry until the investigation is concluded,” Dooley confirmed.



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