March 1, 2019
In a shocking admission, Bishop Steven Raica admitted to the inappropriate handling of the scandal regarding a former priest on the diocesan sex offender list working at a Catholic Church in his diocese. As reported by Gaylord Diocesan Watch, James Holtz, a former priest who was removed from his duties in 2002 for molesting a minor, was allowed to work for years at St. Francis Xavier Church in Petoskey. This is despite warnings to the bishop by concerned individuals in Petoskey. In his interview with TV 7 & 4 on February 27, 2019, he stated the following with regard to Holtz working at the diocese: “That was a matter that was addressed. I received a letter from, uh, the associate, the priest who was the associate there, and which he said he had spoken to that priest and spoken to the pastor and that the matter had been taken care of. So I presumed that had been taken care of. Um, and then I found out later that it hadn’t been taken care of. So when that came in again, I then I began to address that matter more forthrightly myself. Should I have done something earlier? Probably, um. And do I regret not doing something. Yeah, I do.” This interview is available in the Document Library of this website.
Bishop Raica also claimed that protocols for dealing with sexual abuse have been in place for many years: “we have been dealing with this process for some time.” He claimed that processes for dealing with abuse go back to the 1980’s. Apparently, this has not been the case for the faithful in Petoskey as James Holtz was allowed to work under the vicar general (the second in command of the diocese) Fr. Dennis Stilwell for years.
Gaylord Diocesan Watch has not been able to find a specific policy from the diocese of Gaylord with regard to sexual abuse of adults. (A policy for workplace sexual harassment does exist.) We would be happy to partner with the bishop to develop such a policy.