By Barb Arland-Fye
Msgr. Drake Shafer, who was exonerated last year of sexual abuse of a minor, has asked to be relieved of his assignment at Holy Family Parish in Davenport immediately.
Father George McDaniel, the diocese’s chancellor and temporary administrator at Holy Family, read a brief statement at all Masses Jan. 17-18 explaining Msgr. Shafer’s decision.
The statement said Msgr. Shafer expressed his thanks to the many parishioners who had welcomed his coming to the parish, as well as the staff and faculty of the neighboring All Saints Catholic School.
“There were a small number who felt differently and Msgr. (Shafer) was very concerned that they would make his ministry here difficult or dangerous for him or parishioners,” the statement said. “Many false statements were made and there is still confusion and lack of understanding of the thorough process that found Msgr. not guilty of misconduct.”
The statement also said that Bishop Martin Amos would be discussing a future assignment with Msgr. Shafer.
In a brief interview with The Catholic Messenger, Msgr. Shafer said hateful comments by bloggers responding to a Quad-City Times article about his appointment to Holy Family apparently fueled the animosity of a small group of people.
Prior to Christmas, threats were made concerning the priest being involved in the school. The county attorney’s office reviewed the threats and decided not to take further action at this time.
Msgr. Shafer had waited 5-1/2 years to be able to clear his name and to return to active ministry following an accusation of sex abuse said to have occurred more than 30 years ago.
Last summer, an ecclesiastical court found the 62-year-old priest not guilty of sexual abuse. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which had final say, concurred with the ecclesiastical court’s decision.
Msgr. Shafer had exercised his right to an ecclesiastical trial after a Special Review Board of lay and clergy decided on a 5-4 vote that he had violated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
As for the future, Msgr. Shafer said, “I’m still anxious to pursue returning to active ministry.”