VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Roman Catholic bishop in Cincinnati has resigned after not going to his superiors with concerns about a priest who now is set to be tried on charges that he raped a boy.
Pope Francis recently accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, the Vatican announced Thursday. The announcement gave no details.
But the Archdiocese of Cincinnati noted that Binzer had already been removed as director of priest 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.
Drew is accused of raping the boy in the 1980s and 1990s, years before he was ordained as a priest and while he was music director at a suburban Cincinnati parish. Drew has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape. His trial was scheduled for October.
“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,” the archdiocese quoted Binzer as saying. “In April, having studied this matter since last summer, the Holy See informed me that it agreed with this assessment.”
Binzer, a Cincinnati native, was ordained as a priest on June 4, 1994, and later served as chancellor of the archdiocese for eight years before being ordained a bishop. He was installed as auxiliary bishop in 2011. Binzer remains a priest in the archdiocese.
“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,” Binzer said.
“In this difficult and unfortunate time, please keep Bishop Binzer and all the people of the archdiocese in your prayers,” Schnurr said. “Bishop Binzer will continue to serve the people of the Archdiocese with the title of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus. What exactly that ministry will look like will be determined after discussions between Bishop Binzer, the Priest Personnel Board, and me.”
The Cincinnati archdiocese is the 44th largest Catholic diocese in the United States, with more than 450,000 members, and has the sixth largest Catholic school system, with more than 40,000 students.
The 19-county territory encompasses the Cincinnati and Dayton areas and includes 211 parishes and 110 primary and secondary schools.