Pope Francis attends a feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. The ceremony takes place two days before a Synod of bishops on the Pan-Amazon region opens at the Vatican to address the ecological, social and spiritual needs of indigenous peoples in the Amazon. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

NZ bishop resigns over ‘unacceptable’ sexual relationship

October 04, 2019 - 3:49 am

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has accepted a New Zealand bishop’s resignation over what church officials said was “completely unacceptable” sexual behavior with a young woman.

Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to Cardinal John Dew, head of the New Zealand church.

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, but not criminal or necessarily worthy of permanent sanction.

The #MeToo movement and the scandal over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, however, have forced a reckoning about the imbalance of power in relationships between clerics and lay adults, nuns and seminarians, and whether such relationships can ever be consensual.