Opinion: Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse
After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew.
Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese, including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.
Shortly thereafter, Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati was joined by over 1,500 area Catholics in petitioning the Vatican and 80 Catholic leaders to investigate the handling of the Drew case by the Archdiocese. In a well-researched document, our group cited complaints about Drew spanning 30 years, three counties and four parishes. These complaints were both in writing and in personal meetings with then-Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer. Even Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Gmoser warned the Archdiocese to "keep an eye" on Drew, to assign him a monitor and to keep him away from children.
The McCarrick Report cites cover-up, negligence, refusal to believe or investigate accusations and outright lying in handling complaints about McCarrick. "For the good of the Church, keep this quiet," the report quoted one bishop, summing up the hierarchical attitude that enabled McCarrick’s 50 years of exploitation.
What happened in Cincinnati may not have been very different. Archbishop Binzer chose not to place any of the Drew complaints in the priest’s public personnel file, allowing Drew to move from parish to parish and continue his predatory behavior. Binzer has yet to be held fully accountable. In addition, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Binzer’s immediate superior, admitted that the prosecuting attorney’s directives were never followed.