Cincinnati Church Officials Shift Blame over Fr. Drew
Three times in six years, Cincinnati Catholic officials reported suspicious conduct by a priest to a prosecutor. However, they then ignored the prosecutor’s recommendation, and let the cleric "self-report” to a '’monitor” not connected with his parish. Today, that prosecutor, Mike Gmoser, called the church leaders’ behavior “absurd.” We would use much harsher language.
Fr. Geoff Drew, until recently the pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Paris, allegedly “touched and communicated with teenage boys in a sexually suggestive manner.” The priest should have been suspended following each and every report, and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr should have publicly announced the suspension and the reasons behind it. The archbishop should also have sought out others who may have suffered, witnessed or suspected similar behavior by Fr. Drew.
Instead, the typical playbook of “obfuscate, deny, and ignore” was applied, keeping children in Cincinnati at risk. Contrary to what Bishop Schnurr said, we would not characterize these actions --or rather these lack of actions -- as “serious mistakes.” Based on the Catholic’s church’s past record, we would say that they were deliberate decisions, designed to protect the comfort, careers and reputations of church officials, as well as the institution itself.
This is the latest in a long, painful pattern of bishops refusing to accept responsibility for the Catholic sex abuse scandal, whether they blame subordinates, lawyers, reporters, gay people, church psychologists, society’s ‘lax morals,’ or even victims themselves.
We call on Cincinnati Catholics to donate elsewhere until everyone who was responsible for putting children in harm’s way is identified, disciplined, and denounced. Only when there are quick and sure consequences for such irresponsible behavior will abuse and cover-ups truly stop. Finger pointing and blame shifting only perpetuates the problem, when instead heads should roll.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)