All posts by Cardinal John Dew

About Cardinal John Dew

Archbishop of Wellington: His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD

Bishop Charles Drennan resigns as the Bishop of Palmerston North

4 October 2019

Bishop Charles Drennan resigns as the Bishop of Palmerston North

Cardinal John Dew, the Metropolitan Archbishop of New Zealand, today announced that Bishop Charles Drennan has resigned as the Bishop of Palmerston North. Bishop Drennan tendered his resignation to Pope Francis following an investigation into a complaint of unacceptable behaviour of a sexual nature. The complaint was made by a young woman. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation.

Upon receiving the complaint, the New Zealand Church’s independent investigation body, the National Office of Professional Standards (NOPS), contracted an independent, licenced investigator to undertake an investigation under the oversight of Cardinal Dew. Bishop Drennan stood aside from his duties. Both Bishop Drennan and the young woman participated in the independent investigation.

The young woman has been informed of his resignation and the Church is in ongoing contact with her. The Church is committed to giving continuing support to the young woman, her family and those around her.

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

The clergy, staff and church leadership of the Diocese of Palmerston North have been told of the acceptance of Bishop Drennan’s resignation and provided with guidance and resources to help them to support parishioners and other members of the Catholic community. The wider Church of New Zealand will also be advised and supported.

“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,” said Cardinal Dew.


Media Contact:
Cardinal John Dew
c/o David McLoughlin, Communications Advisor
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference
Phone: 021 611 052

His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD is a Roman Catholic bishop. He was appointed Archbishop of Wellington in 2005 and elevated to Cardinal in 2015. He is also the Vice-President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Metropolitan Archbishop of New Zealand is the senior bishop of a group of dioceses in a country or a province. He has limited functions and powers in relation to the other dioceses and does not have authority to intervene on his own initiative in the governance of a diocese in his province. In May 2019 Pope Francis gave Metropolitan Archbishops
the power to oversee investigations into abuse complaints against bishops of the dioceses in the Archbishop’s province.

The Catholic Diocese of Palmerston North is the region of New Zealand assigned to the Bishop of Palmerston North. The region extends through the northern reaches of Taranaki in the east to Hawke’s Bay in the west, following the coastlines and internal areas through Whanganui-Waimarino and Tararua into Manawatū and some of the Wairarapa.

The National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) sets the strategic direction and ensures compliance of the Catholic Church’s safeguarding policy and procedures for children and vulnerable adults. They are also responsible for overseeing the investigation of complaints of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct against clergy and members of
religious orders.

If you or someone you know has a complaint:
The Church has a specialist team to receive complaints about inappropriate behaviour in any Church context, to support complainants find the right path towards healing, and to investigate complaints using an established process when any civil process is completed or not undertaken. The National Office for Professional Standards can be contacted on 0800
114 622 or online at:

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 19 September 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

From +John…

On Wednesday 11th September, the Council of Priests had one of its regular meetings. The meeting began as it always does with a time of prayer and reflection. One of the questions we were asked to reflect on during our prayer was “as we are called to lead major change within the local Church of Wellington perhaps, we need to be reminded of some basic truths as priests?” This led into a wonderful time of prayer and sharing and included the words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in his first homily as Pope: “We were conceived in the heart of God and for this reason ‘each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.’” I think we all do well to reflect on those words spoken by Pope Benedict, because unless we know deeply that we are “willed, loved and chosen” it will be hard to lead in this time of huge change and challenge.

Only a few days before our Council meeting Pope Francis had spoken to the clergy and religious during his visit to Madagascar. I was thinking of his words as we prayed and reflected at our meeting. He said on 5 September: “I was pleased by something one of the catechists said: ‘We are a Church that is part of a heroic people’. A people that has experienced suffering yet keeps hope alive. With this holy pride that you take in your people, a pride that invites a renewal of faith and hope, all of us today want to renew our ‘yes’. How happy is Holy Mother Church to hear you manifest your love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given you!”

It is a lovely thought to think that we are part of a heroic people. What does that mean for you?

We are a people who have experienced suffering, but we keep hope alive! What do we do as individuals and in our communities to keep hope alive?

We are invited to renew our faith and hope, do we really want to renew our “Yes?”

The Pope reminds us how happy “Holy Mother Church to hear us show our love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given us”.

  • What is your mission?
  • How do you live out your mission?
  • How do we work together supporting each other in our mission?

Please remember and pray with the words “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”.

Naku noa

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 5 September 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

Last Sunday’s Gospel could be summed up with these words “Everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted”. Last Sunday morning I was reading a reflection from the Magnificat magazine. The meditation of the day was “How to be humble” written by Dom Eugene Boylan, an Irish Cistercian. He began the reflection by saying “if one asks how am I to be humble, the immediate answer is by the grace of God, and that is indeed the truth. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own condition and realization of his exaltation that make for humility. But even though it be a grace, it is a grace with which we must co-operate. The first thing to do is to ask in prayer for the grace of humility and to ask sincerely. The second thing is to accept humiliations when they come our way. But let us never forget that there is an enormous difference between being humble and being humiliated.”

In these days when we continue to be shattered, disappointed and angry about the abuse crisis throughout the world, many people do feel humiliated. That is probably especially so for we priests who are seen as the Church’s public representatives.

There has been a lot written about humility. Pope Francis himself has spoken about it, saying that if this is a time of shame and humiliation, it could also actually be a privileged moment to grow closer to Christ, not just for those who have offended but for all the Church, so that everyone realizes, acknowledges, and lives by the fact that everything we do is by the grace of God.

I think Pope Francis is saying that this is giving us an opportunity to change the way the Church does things, and if this is so, then then let’s embrace it. We are getting the message that humility is the only way God will have a say and the only way the Church will change.
Pope Francis is constantly referring to being poor, as Christ was poor, being crucified, as Christ was. Remember the Pope knows well the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, which have shaped him. Ignatius himself was no stranger to humiliation and actually saw it as the most opportune moment for meeting the real Christ. One of the lessons we are learning is that up until now the Church’s culture in leadership was command and control, and that is what protected the Church and anyone who challenged it became a victim. Now is the time for humility.

That reflection last Sunday on “how to be humble” and the Gospel of the day was a great lesson for us. Pope Francis seems quite content to be humiliated because he sees it as the only way that the learning will sink in, and that we will discover that God is in control. How are we to be humble? The immediate answer is by the grace of God. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own human condition and help us to be grateful and humble for all that God does for us.

Naku noa

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John shares his thoughts on the future of the Church

Please note this is Cardinal John Dew’s script from his “Cardinal’s Lunch” presentation on 28 August 2019. (Used with permission)

Cardinal’s Lunch, 28th August 2019    –   The Future of the Church
He hōnore, he korōria ki te Atua                                     
He maungārongo ki te whenua                                        

He whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa.                          
Tīhei Mauriora.                                                                
Tēnā koutou katoa.

As-salamu alaykum,       Shallom,    Greetings to you all

Thank you for coming today, thank you for your attendance at these Cardinal’s lunches. Abrahmaic Council Members, Family ….This is the fourth of these gatherings with the first speakers being Sir Bill and Lady Mary English; the second the Irish Ambassador, Peter Ryan; the third Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican Astronomer.

Today you’ve got me, I have been asked to speak on the Future of the Church, which really is a bit presumptuous. I don’t know what the future of the Church is, but I do know that it definitely has a future. For anyone of faith there must be a future, despite the current scandals, the sex abuse crisis which has rocked and continues to rock the Church worldwide. Despite all of that and the pain and agony it has caused, there is a future….because we are the Church of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that this crisis is forcing us to look deeply at ourselves and to examine where we need to be purified, where we need to be humbled, where we need to rely on and trust in God.

The Church of the future is certainly going to be different; it is constantly changing and needs to do so. Many people find change hard to cope with, but it actually does not worry me, anything living needs to keep changing. I often think of the words of Cardinal Newman, soon to be canonized. He once said, “in a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.”  I was fortunate to discover those words in my second year in the seminary, they have stayed with me ever since.   Change will continue to be part of the Church, because we can never settle for mediocrity, or half-heartedness.  In fact, discipleship calls for a WHOLE-HEARTED response, all day and every day.

I give far more homilies than I give luncheon speeches. This is simply thoughts of mine as to how I see the Church needs to be in the future.

It is hard to be a leader in the Church today or anywhere for that matter. However, Catholics have the most incredible example of leadership in Pope Francis. He is giving us very clear examples of how to lead and how to lead in such a way that we can be seen as joyful and hopeful…..that is what the Church must be in the future, full of joy and full of hope. As Francis has said more than once no one is going to be attracted to an organization if everyone goes around with a “face like a sourpuss” or looking as if they “are constantly at a funeral.” About three years ago I presented Papal Medals to a couple who had been very active in their parish and in the local Catholic College for many years. Making a speech later the husband spoke about the first time Cardinal Tom preached in their parish and told the Congregation that “being a Catholic should be fun!” He went home that day and spoke with his wife and family, they all decides that from then on they had fun! I want people to know they belong to a Church which is lifegiving and enjoyable.   “Negativity and sadness are not Christian attitudes”.

In 1987 Cardinal Tom stopped me one day. I was working in Youth Ministry at the time. He told me that the bishops wanted me to go to work at the seminary and to be responsible for the formation of the first-year students. He later told me that he had never seen anyone go so white so quickly!  I was dreading it. I had no preparation for this kind of work, after a few years in the Cook Island and five years in Youth Ministry the thought of living in an Academic Community was more than foreboding! As it turned out it was a privilege and I loved it.

I quickly discovered something; I had known it but never articulated it.

I used to say to the seminarians and I still say it to myself and to priests today, “Just be friendly.” I had been ordained only 11 years, but I had realized that most people do not ask us deep theological questions. Yes, it is absolutely essential to be formed theologically, but most of the time people just want us to be friendly and kind, to welcome them, accept them and show them they belong.  The Church of the future has to be friendly and welcoming…not just the

leaders, but ALL of us. I often say, “It is belonging that leads to believing, not believing that leads to belonging.” When the Church today, and in the future enables all people to belong, then we are the Church. It is not about what theological persuasion we are, what spirituality attracts us, what ethnicity we are, what age we are……we are members of the one body. “JUST BE FRIENDLY!” Being friendly is the human thing to do.

Almost 30 years ago Pope John Paul wrote a document about Priesthood and about the human qualities needed in a priest. I hope in the future these qualities are seen even more, Because, the Church cannot do without them. I don’t believe however they are just for priests, they are for all of us…it is our human qualities that will speak loud into who we are: Listen to what he wrote:

“Future priests should therefore cultivate a series of human qualities, ……. These qualities are needed for them to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behaviour.

I have always said that ministry is about relationships, our parishes are about relationships, the Church is about relationships, therefore John Paul went on to say “Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This demands that the priest – or any of us who are baptised – not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening ourselves to relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console……” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 43)

They are challenging words and very much needed for the future of the Church.

The Church of the future has to be full of kindness, that means every individual is to be full of kindness. It is maybe best summed up in a saying of Suzanne Aubert, “Above all things let us be kind. Kindness is what most resembles God.”

I mentioned that most people are not going to ask us deep theological questions, and I believe that is true. However, the Church of the future – many of you here today – will need to be expanded theologically, through your own reading, through book groups, actual theological study. Most people do not do any further study – any religious education or theology once they leave school. There are endless opportunities for this. The world is more complex, the Church is more complex. Moral and ethical questions are more complex. Our Lay Pastoral Leaders complete eighteen theology papers as part of their preparation for their ministry. As they begin their studies the reaction of nearly every one of them is “Why didn’t someone tell us this before!” The Church of the future needs lay people who are formed theologically, because we will be relying more and more on Lay Leadership in the future.  Not just because of a severe reduction in the number of priests, but because baptism calls us to leadership.

I also want people to see that the Church is YOUNG. I am not speaking about the demographics of age. There may be a majority of older people in our congregations, but we can change that – the Church is forever young. I am talking about the Church being young in spirit. This is seen in Francis, 82 years of age, but full of energy, full of wit, vital and alive, interested and ready to greet anyone.  It is the Spirit of God who keeps us young, open to new ideas and fresh ways of operating. The Spirit inspires us to do things differently- I am convinced that we should never be afraid of new ways of doing things. The Church can never be staid, it can never be boring- especially liturgically –  because it is about life. Lifegiving, vibrant liturgies where everyone participates and is caught up in the ceremonies will bring life to the Church, that will energize us to go out and make a difference in society.

Pope Francis recently said, “A Christian is always young,” “when the heart of a Christian begins to age, so does his/her Christian vocation.”  “Either you are young in heart and soul, or you are not fully Christian.”

I am totally convinced that the Church of the future must be prayerful and reflective; It is our daily dialogue with the Spirit that allows us to go forward and which keeps us young and interested. Prayer is not just what we do on a Sunday, if prayer and reflection on the Scripture is not part of our life as individuals and as communities, there will be no future, it is communion with God that energises and fortifies us. Daily reflection on the Scriptures, consciously applying the Gospel to daily life – to our work, our professions, our families- relating faith to daily life will be part of the future. The challenge for the individual believer and individual citizens is to know how to connect faith to life, to professional life, how to connect Sunday worship to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…and to be committed to that connection of faith and life.

From the beginning of his papacy Francis has called us to go to the edges, to the peripheries. There will be no future unless we go out to others, to others in need, to others who are struggling in life and looking for, needing hope.   For his first formal visit to a Roman

parish in May 2013 Francis chose not a Baroque masterpiece Church near the Vatican but travelled to the outskirts of the city because, as he told the parishioners “We understand reality not from the centre, but from the outskirts.”    Just before he visited that parish he said ‘We should not lock ourselves up in our parish, among our friends …with people who think as we do – but instead the Church must step outside herself. To go where? To the outskirts of existence, wherever they may be.”   Address 18th May 2013

A few weeks later he told Jesuit journalists from La Civillita Cattolica “Your proper place is on the frontier not to build walls but bridges.”   (14th June 2013)

The Church of the future must build bridges. The current incumbent of the White House began his term in office by speaking about closing the United States in and building walls that keep people out. Francis began his ministry by speaking about going out to the peripheries, reaching out to all. The Church of the future can never close in and protect itself, it is about going out and offering life to all. Our local parish communities can never be just about the parish itself; our parishes are always about serving others, reaching out to the world around us, especially the poor and lonely, the struggling, the stranger, the disabled, the hurt and abandoned.

Over fifty years ago the Constitution of the Church in the Modern World was promulgated…the very first lines say; “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men (and women) of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”  (GeS 1)

The Church of the future must know that wherever there are griefs and anxieties, wherever there are joys and hopes…. they are OURS too, because “nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”

Four years ago, Francis wrote the now famous document on the environment, on the earth being Our Common Home one that we are challenged to look after. I have a favourite paragraph in that document. Francis is writing about the huge cities of the world where there is pollution, no clean water, buildings are decaying, rubbish is piled up in the streets. He writes “The feeling of asphyxiation brought on by densely populated residential areas is countered if close and warm relationships develop, if communities are created, if the limitations of the environment are compensated for in the interior of each person who feels held within a network of solidarity and belonging. In this way, any place can turn from being a hell on earth into the setting for a dignified life.”

That is the Church of the future, that is what I want to see

-the development and building of close and warm relationships

-communities being created

-people knowing that they are held within networks of solidarity and belonging

-our task, as Church, our task as fellow human beings is to turn what for some people seems like hell on earth into a setting for a dignified life.

That is the Church of the future.

At the very end of his letter on the environment, “Laudato Si” …remember Francis has spoken about the pollution of the world’s cities and its oceans, the deforestation of the rainforests, – Francis is particularly concerned about the fires raging the Amazon forests in these days – he is concerned about the poor exploited by the rich, and how consumption of the worlds goods by the rich and wealthy is out of control. He has painted a sad and bad picture of the Earth, Our Common Home. But this is what he says:

“In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”  Laudato Si 244

I say the same about the Church today, of course we have our challenges, the universal Church has challenges. There are many issues which confront us ——BUT “In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this Church which has been entrusted to us, let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for our Church never take away the joy of our hope.”

I want to conclude by quoting from two Presidents of the United States, ………………. Not the current President.

I often quote President Harry Truman who once said, anyone can be a leader as long as they don’t mind who gets the credit.” It is a wonderful quote and says a great deal about leadership in the Church, where we are called to lead by example and to do so in a spirit of service. I also associate President Truman’s words with those of Pope Francis which I have heard him use often, he is very clear about saying The only authority we have is the authority of service.”  In the future any of us who are leaders in the Church can lead only when we are of service to others and not looking for the credit.  If we do look for credit it is another instance of clericalism, and the Church in the future can never be led by clerics or anyone else who assumes a sense of ENTITLEMENT.

The other quote is longer, it is taken from a speech of President Theodore Roosevelt which he made in Paris in April 1910, entitled “Citizenship in a Republic.” He said:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Why am I quoting that Theodore Roosevelt? It is a great speech, think about what he says, The credit belongs to the man/woman who is actually in the arena… whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again.”

 Align that to the Church today …

We are called to be in the arena, called to be in the arena which can be a very frustrating place to be, a place of scandal and deep

disappointment, but still the only place to be. I often think of the place in the Gospel where the followers of Jesus turned and walked away because they could not understand what Jesus was saying. They said of his words “This is intolerable language.  Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them if they were going to go away too. Peter’s response was “Lord, who shall we go to, you have the words of everlasting life.”

It is hard, it is difficult, it is challenging, there are things we don’t like, human mistakes and shortcomings, BUT – there is no one else to turn to, we are called to stay in the arena. It is still a place of hope and inspiration, it is still a place where an enormous amount of good is done and people helped, given hope and encouragement.

In the future I want people to be in the arena being Intentional Disciples – making up our minds every day to live the Gospel, to live it wholeheartedly and with magnanimity and enthusiasm (my most favourite two words).

So, in the future

The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who err, and come short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who do actually strive to do the deeds; who know the great enthusiasm, who spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

The Church can never be full of cold and timid souls ……

The church can only be made of those who are in the arena and who dare greatly.

Today and in the future, we dare greatly ….

To live the Gospel,

to BE the living Gospel for all to see and hear

to be on a mission

in fact, to be a Mission

Today and in the future, we dare greatly….

Nō reira,

 E  te iwi  kua huihui mai I tenei ra                                                                    

kia tau mai    te rangimārie

ki a koutou katoa

Tēnā tātou  katoa.

ABORTION LAW REFORM in NEW ZEALAND: ‘Have Your Say by 19 September’

A Message from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops to Parishioners

The full document can be viewed here.

Every pregnancy involves at least two lives – the child and the mother. Every abortion takes away an innocent life.

Protecting and caring for life from conception to natural death stands at the core of our Catholic faith. From the moment an embryo comes into existence, a genetically and spiritually unique human life has begun. It is already the human being it will always be. It will only grow in size and complexity and is therefore entitled to be treated with the same respect as other human beings.

Our parliament is currently debating a significant revision of our abortion laws. This is a matter of serious concern. There are three ways we need to respond:

Political: We are called to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We have an obligation to advocate for the right to life of the unborn child and the well-being of mothers. We encourage every one of you to exercise your democratic right to make a submission to parliament and to contact your local MP.

Prayerful: Every human life is a gift from God. Just as parents spontaneously pray for their unborn child, so we are called to pray for all the unborn, as well as for their parents and extended families. We also pray for wisdom for our MPs.

Pastoral: Our belief in the sanctity of life is demonstrated in the way we show love for both unborn children and their mothers. The message others hear from us will be shaped not just by our words, but also by the way in which we speak and act. We need to ask: ‘After this debate is over, will our faith communities be seen as places of love, compassion and care that women facing the challenges of a pregnancy will want to turn to?’

We urge you to inform yourselves about this issue and take a stand for life. Submissions close Thursday 19 September.

The full document can be viewed here.