Bishop Raica  stated today that he categorically refuses to meet with members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch.  This occurred during the visit of Bishop Raica to St. Anne Church in Cadillac.  Bishop Raica was present for a mass celebrating the installation of Father Michael Janowski as pastor of St. Anne, St. Stephen, St. Theresa, and St. Edward churches.  (Why this is occurring now is a mystery to parishioners as Fr. Janowski has been pastor of these churches for three years.  Sadly, the church was only 2/3 full at best according to individuals who attended.  This represents a huge problem for the Diocese as church attendance diocese-wide has plummeted.)

Earlier this month, Gaylord Diocesan Watch member Dr. Martin Dubravec sent a letter to Bishop Raica with a courteous request for an audience with him.  The intent of the meeting would be to discuss concerns of faithful Catholics in the Diocese.  No response was received – until today.  After the installation mass of Father Janowski, Dr. Brenz asked the Bishop if there was any way he could meet with Gaylord Diocesan Watch.  This Bishop responded with “no”.  When Dr. Brenz stated he was a member of Gaylord Diocesan Watch, the Bishop responded, “no way”.  Dr. Brenz then alluded to the Bishop’s sermon in which the Bishop spoke of the teaching authority of pastors.  The Bishop emphatically stated “no chance”.

Concern has been raised that this is a violation of Canon Law.  According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the following is notable:

  • Canon 212.2:  The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
  •  Canon 212.3:  According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

The actions of Bishop Raica today are consistent; he and other members of his staff have refused to meet with members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch despite numerous efforts on our part to reach out to the Bishop.  The members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch desire to meet with the Bishop for more than a one-sided conversation.  We would like to hear the Bishop’s views on issues of concern in addition to sharing those views with him.  We are open to education, criticism, and correction from the Bishop.  We believe we have the right to meet with him, not only because Canon Law provides for that right, but also because the Bishop asks for our hard-earned dollars and volunteer time (including entrusting our children to Diocesan personnel) to keep parishes and the Diocese running.  It is clear that the Bishop is either unwilling or lacks understanding of accountability and transparency.  How can he legitimately ask for our time and money when he is not willing to talk to us?  What non-profit entity in the United States can realistically expect to function, let alone grow, with this type of attitude?

During his sermon, he also mentioned that parishioners should not be misled by dissidents or even “billboards”.  This is an obvious reference to our recent billboard campaign to remind residents of the Diocese of whistleblower Father Matthew Cowan’s plight.  It is clear by his reference that our campaign has had an effect.

Another individual asked the Bishop, “When will Father Matthew Cowan be returned?”  The Bishop replied, “we’re working on that”. He gave no further information.  Has he spoken to Father Cowan since last year?  Is he actively talking to authorities in Rome to resolve this situation?  We feel these are good questions that can easily be answered by Bishop Raica.