The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has assigned a former auxiliary bishop who resigned under a cloud of suspicion last year to oversee two local parishes. Parents are outraged, and are not sitting still for it. Several have said they will remove their children from the associated Catholic school.
The two parishes — Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann — feed into the school of a third parish, St. John the Baptist.
“Who is going to put an end to this and allow us a safe place for our kids to have an education and practice our faith?” asked parent Angie Reynolds in a conversation with local Fox News affiliate FOX19NOW. “It’s been very frustrating and very concerning that no one will listen to us,” she said. “We are paying our hard-earned money to send our kids to this school yet we have no say. It makes no sense.”
Bishop Joseph Binzer was head of the archdiocesan priest personnel board for many years. Between 2013 and 2018, Binzer chose to deal quietly with complaints of inappropriate behavior against Fr. Geoff Drew, but Binzer arranged things so the personnel board did not have the complaints on record when they considered Drew’s 2018 request for assignment to the parish with what is reportedly the largest Catholic elementary school in the state.
That transfer went through, and when word of Drew’s alleged behavior reached parents, the affair exploded.
Fr. Drew, in the meantime, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of child rape. Drew has entered a Not Guilty plea and is now facing criminal trial and possible life sentence on charges he repeatedly raped a boy years before entering formation for the priesthood.
The short version of a very long and complicated story is that there was some sort of ecclesiastical investigation in the latter part of 2019, at the end of which Bishop Binzer discerned that it would be best if he resigned as auxiliary of Cincinnati. He faced no trial. There was, apparently, no broader investigation into the archdiocese or Archbishop Dennis Schnurr’s role in the Binzer-Drew business. There were no consequences for Binzer beyond his stepping back — temporarily, it turns out — from duty.
Bishop Binzer’s new assignment as pastor of Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann parishes reportedly came as a surprise to the current pastor, Fr. Kyle Schnippel, who wrote a letter to parishioners saying he is now leaving six years earlier than expected.
“When we started discussing the Beacons of Light Pastoral Planning Process,” Fr. Schnippel wrote, “I had no expectation, not even a thought, that we would also be discussing a change of pastor during this process as well.” Schnippel went on to tell parishioners: “I am very happy and content here in this pastoral region and was looking forward to six more years of service in this region.”
Another parent told FOX19NOW the archdiocesan officials with whom they did speak apparently were unaware the assignments entailed any sort of responsibility for school children.
“They told us they didn’t know there were children associated with his pastor assignment,” parent Kim McRoberts told FOX19NOW. “At some point, we just had to laugh it was so ridiculously stupid.”
Cincinnati archdiocesan spokesperson Jennifer Schack told FOX19NOW that the precise role — if any — that Bishop Binzer would have in the life of St. John the Baptist School, is still under consideration. “There have been no decisions at this time about the role that Bishop Binzer will (or won’t) play at St. John the Baptist School,” Schack is quoted as saying. “Several meetings with several groups (parishioners, Parish Councils, etc.) have been held over the last few weeks,” Schack said, “to hear from parishioners both concerned about the assignment as well as supportive of the assignment.”