Apology not enough, parishioners say of priest suspension case

‘I’m sorry’ not good enough, some parishioners tell Catholic Archbishop in wake of priest suspension

Hundreds of parishioners came to a Butler County church on Tuesday evening to hear the leader of the Cincinnati Archdiocese explain why a longtime priest is suspended following allegations of misbehavior involving teenage boys.

Members of the St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church in Liberty Twp. nearly filled every pew in the massive church as they heard details from archdiocese officials on the suspension of their former pastor, the Rev. Geoff Drew.

News media were not allowed by church officials to cover the meeting, which included the participation of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.

Archdiocese officials have stated “serious mistakes” were made in their handling of concerns and complaints brought to them regarding Drew.

Some who attended the St. Maximillian Kolbe meeting said it was emotional. Many left the church grim faced.

“I’m sorry is not going to mend a broken heart,” said parishioner David Starr. “And there has been many, many broken hearts here at St. Max and I don’t know if they are ever going to mend.”

“From the Archbishop on down the ‘I’m sorrys’ are just not the answer that people want and I’m one of them. If they knew about this stuff they should have nipped it in the bud immediately,” said Starr.

During a news conference Monday, Archdiocese spokesman Mike Schafer outlined allegations against Drew that led to Schnurr placing him on administrative leave July 23 and ordering him into “comprehensive physical, psychological and spiritual evaluation at an independent in-patient treatment facility.”

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“In 2013 and again in 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Fr. Drew’s behavior. The alleged behavior involved a pattern of such things as uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee, and inappropriate sexual comments about one’s body or appearance, directed at teenage boys,” Schafer said. “This behavior naturally made these boys uncomfortable.”

A meeting previously scheduled for Monday night with the St. Max community was abruptly cancelled late last week because of new developments, officials said.

The archdiocese revealed Monday it also removed Bishop Joseph R. Binzer as director of priest personnel while archdiocese officials investigate whether he knew about the allegations concerning Drew but did not inform Schnurr.

Drew previously served at St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Dayton and St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Beavercreek.

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