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Bishop resigns from liaison group linked to Crown investigation into historical abuse cases


Oct. 09, 2019

The head of the Catholic Church's liaison group with a Crown investigation into historical abuse cases sees no reason to review past decisions or procedures, after one of its own resigned in disgrace over sexual misconduct.
Te Rōpū Tautoko was set up last year to co-ordinate the church's response to allegations reported to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission , and its co-operation with the resulting investigations.
Charles Drennan, a member of Tautoko, resigned as bishop of the Palmerston North diocese last week, after a months-long investigation into a sexual misconduct complaint made by a young woman.
It was later revealed a "mature woman" had previously made a similar complaint against Drennan more than two years ago, but hadn't wanted to talk to investigators.
Tautoko chairwoman Catherine Fyfe said Drennan has stepped down from his position in the group and she was confident his misconduct had not affected or influenced Tautoko's work.
"As this group operates collaboratively in its responses to the Royal Commission, I have no reason to believe that responses provided to date will require a review."
Drennan was one of 10 members of Tautoko, including representatives of church leadership and two members with appropriate expertise.
Although Fyfe was a lay person, Tautoko has drawn criticism from survivors of abuse by Catholic priests for being dominated by clergy.
Fyfe did not believe Drennan's misconduct would tarnish the trust required for Tautoko to carry out its role, because it was beingdealt with.
Drennan has not attended Tautoko's meetings or been part of its discussions or decisions since the investigation into the young woman's complaint began, she said.
The group's role was to deal with the commission on behalf of senior church leadership.
Tautoko did not engage directly with abuse survivors, since that was more appropriately handled by the Commission itself, she said.
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