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Cincinnati bishop resigns after failing to report local priest later charged with rape

Bishop Joseph Binzer (Archdiocese of Cincinnati)
Bishop Joseph Binzer (Archdiocese of Cincinnati)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A Cincinnati bishop has resigned for his role in handling alleged inappropriate conduct by a priest.

Bishop Joseph Binzer offered his resignation from his office as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in late April. Pope Francis accepted the resignation, which is effective Thursday.

Binzer was previously removed as the Director of Priests’ Personnel after he failed to bring past concerns about Father Geoffrey Drew’s conduct to the attention of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and the Priests’ Personnel Board. Binzer also served on the Child and Youth Protection Committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and resigned from that committee this past August.

Drew has been charged with nine counts of raping a 10-year-old altar boy 30 years ago while he was the music minister at St. Jude in Bridgetown. He's being held on a $5 million bond.

While Binzer apparently didn't know of the alleged rape, he failed to report an alleged pattern of behavior including uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages and inappropriate sexual comments directed to teenage boys.

“I am deeply sorry for my role in addressing the concerns raised about Father Drew, which has had a negative impact on the trust and faith of the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati," Binzer said in a statement. "In April, having studied this matter since last summer, the Holy See informed me that it agreed with this assessment. As a result, and after much prayer and reflection, I offered my resignation from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. I believe this to be in the best interest of the archdiocese.”

Binzer is a Cincinnati native. He has ordained a priest on June 4, 1994. Binzer served as Chancellor of the archdiocese for eight years before being ordained a bishop and installed as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on June 9, 2011.

Although Binzer has resigned from his office of Auxiliary Bishop, he remains a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“I have been blessed to serve the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as a priest for almost 26 years and hope to do so for years to come. I will continue to pray for all of you, and for all those I have affected,” said Binzer.

“Bishop Binzer will continue to serve the people of the Archdiocese with the title of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus," said Schnurr. "What exactly that ministry will look like will be determined after discussions between Bishop Binzer, the Priest Personnel Board, and me.”

Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann is a concerned Catholic from St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“He was well-liked. I think that you hear that a lot, and it's unfortunate. He was well-liked, but, again, the focus of child protection wasn't there,” said Dinwiddie-Herrmann. “Unfortunately, he's not the only one at fault here. Many of us Catholics in general just feel like he's being used as a scapegoat. We feel that Archbishop Schnurr should have made a move before he did."

Daniel Frondorf is a member of the group Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP).

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“I don't think he should just be able to resign and be reassigned. That's not going to keep anyone from doing it in the future. There are no deterrents here whatsoever,” said Frondorf.

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