A Vatican-led review of an abuse complaint against New Zealand Cardinal John Dew has concluded that no further Church inquiry is required, according to a statement by Archbishop Paul Martin of Wellington provided to CNA on Wednesday.

The allegation of historical sexual abuse had been raised against Dew around the time he retired as archbishop of Wellington in May of last year.

The archdiocese said on June 5 that New Zealand police had also conducted a lengthy inquiry that led to a decision not to file any charges.

The accusations dated back to the 1970s and involved an alleged incident at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Upper Hutt, roughly 20 miles northeast of Wellington, where Dew was serving as an assistant priest at the time. 

“Cardinal Dew immediately stood aside from all public Church activities while the police investigated the allegations,” Martin said. 

“When the police advised in March that no charges would be laid, Cardinal Dew continued to stand aside while a separate Vatican review proceeded, using the Church’s international procedures for complaints against bishops.”

According to Martin, with the Church’s review complete and no further action proposed, Dew can resume public Church activities.

“This has been a distressing experience and painful for everyone concerned,” he said. “The Church has an ongoing pastoral responsibility to offer support to all those involved and continues to do so. This includes the complainant to whom the Church has continued to offer support.”

Dew has consistently denied the allegations. He reiterated his innocence and highlighted his commitment to his episcopal motto, “Peace through integrity,” in a letter provided to CNA in March.

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The cardinal wrote: “I do not know the person making the allegations and have never met him. The allegation against me is false; it may come from a well of anguish and grief arising from other reasons.”

Born John Atcherley Dew in 1948 in Waipawa, New Zealand, the prelate has been a prominent figure in the Catholic Church in New Zealand and internationally.

Ordained as a priest in 1976, he served in various pastoral roles and, in 1995, was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Wellington Archdiocese. After a year as coadjutor, he succeeded as ordinary in 2005, the same year he was appointed bishop of New Zealand’s military ordinariate.

Dew also served as president of the New Zealand bishops’ conference and the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO). 

During the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, the then-archbishop intervened, suggesting that divorced and remarried Catholics could be admitted to Communion.

Pope Francis elevated him to the cardinalate in 2015.