From the public media this weekend you will know of the resignation of Bishop Charles Drennan of the Diocese of Palmerston North. Since it has not been possible for me to inform you of this situation directly through diocesan communication channels, I have asked priests to read this message from me at all Masses in our diocese today.
Earlier this year a complaint of unacceptable behaviour was laid against Bishop Charles by a young woman. The resulting investigation was carried out by an experienced and independent person and support is being provided to the woman and to Bishop Charles who have both participated in the investigation. As a result of the investigation Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Charles’ resignation.
This is very testing time for all who are affected by this situation and I urge you to pray for all who are suffering as a result.
Until his appointment to Palmerston North, Bishop Charles was a priest of our Christchurch Diocese. I know therefore that Catholics and many other people in our diocese will be painfully affected by this news, experiencing a mix of feelings including sadness, denial and anger.
On our Christchurch diocesan website you will find the statement that was released to the media, as well as contact information should you or anyone you know need to speak someone about this or any related matter.
This is an especially difficult time for the young woman and her family. Our prayers are with them.
As a son of our diocesan family Bishop Charles is also assured of our prayers.
We pray too for the people of the diocese of Palmerston North.
I was moved and inspired when I heard the reflection of a young 19-year-old man at last year’s Youth Synod in Rome. He said: “I am a part of the church not because of priests and bishops and the people of the Church but because I believe in Jesus and what he’s done in people’s lives.”
May every one of us be open to the Spirit of Jesus active in our personal lives, in our church and in our world, the Spirit of Jesus who brings healing and forgiveness.
As we turn to Jesus with renewed awareness of our frailty and our need, let us pray together:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.