By Elizabeth Hur
SPRINGFIELD, Pa.(CBS) – A Delaware County priest was abruptly placed on administrative leave by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
In a statement, the Archdiocese explained:
“Father Louis C. Bier, Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in Springfield, Delaware County, has been placed on administrative leave by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. O.F.M. Cap. in response to concerns regarding his suitability for ministry at this time. These concerns are not connected to any complaint of inappropriate behavior with minors. An announcement regarding this situation was made at all Masses at the parish this weekend.
While on leave, Father Bier will not exercise his public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself publicly as a priest. Father Bier has not been living at the parish since prior to this weekend. A parochial administrator will be appointed by Archbishop Chaput as soon as possible.
A private meeting for parishioners will be held at the church this evening. This gathering will be an opportunity for prayer, clarity, and open discussion about how the parish will move forward. There are a variety of reasons why a priest could be found unsuitable for ministry. As Father Bier’s situation is currently under thorough examination, and no determination has yet been reached, it is not possible to provide further information at this time.”
Still hoping to get some answers, parishioners of St. Francis of Assissi packed a private meeting Monday evening that lasted about an hour.
When it was all over, most chose to keep their thoughts to themselves while some conveyed compassion for their leadership.
Jim Murray, parishioner said, “I believe in my faith. I believe in St. Francis of Assisi. There are great men and women in there and I’m proud to be a member of St. Francis of Assisi.”
Proud but others admit they can’t help but wonder why their pastor, Father Louis Bier has been placed on administrative. We are told the 62-year old served as the parish’s assistant Pastor from 1990 to 1997 then returned last June as their Pastor.
Barbara Mulhern said, “He was a very nice person.”
Helen Berlingis added, “He seemed to be doing his job. There was no reason to suspect anything.”
And so they hoped to learn on this night what went wrong to no avail.
Berlingis said, “They’re not answering. They’re just saying they’re not aware of what’s going on.”
Mulhern added, “Just a little bit unusual that there’s not a representative from the Archdiocese here. We’re all just wondering what happened and is it going to happen again and will he come back and how do we prevent it in the future whatever it was.”
Monday afternoon, Eyewitness News learned from sources that a male friend of Father Bier was arrested in September and has pled guilty to dealing prescription drugs in the vicinity of a home and car owned by the priest in Rehoboth, Delaware. Father Bier has not been charged with any wrongdoing and is not under investigation for drugs or any other illegal activity.
When we reached out to the Archdiocese for more information based on this new information, church officials declined to comment.