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Catholic Bishop Resigns Amid Sexual Complaints

A New Zealand Catholic bishop has resigned after a young woman accused him of engaging in unacceptable behaviour of a sexual nature, the Church said.

It said Bishop Charles Drennan, who oversaw the North Island Diocese of Palmerston North, tendered his resignation after an independent investigation into his conduct.

“The young woman has requested that details of the complaint remain private,” the Metropolitan Archbishop of New Zealand, Cardinal John Dew, said in a statement released late Friday.

Sex abuse scandals around the globe have shaken the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope has promised zero tolerance.

“In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Bishop Drennan’s behaviour was completely unacceptable, and it fully supports the young woman for coming forward. It can be confirmed that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation,” Dew said.

Dew said the complainant had been informed of Drennan’s resignation and the Church was committed to giving her ongoing support. The NZCatholic website said Drennan, 59, became a bishop in 2011 and took over in Palmerston North a year later.

It said he had previously worked for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State under St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

More recently, Drennan was part of a Catholic group that was liaising on the Church’s behalf with a judicial inquiry into historical abuse of children in care.

The royal commission, established last year, is examining abuse of children who were wards of the state or church between 1950 and 1999.

“The Catholic Church has no tolerance for any inappropriate behaviour by any of its members. I encourage anyone who experiences such behaviour to bring it to the attention of the Church, police or any organisation with which they feel comfortable,” Dew stated.