The Michigan Attorney General has released a report on sexual abuse in the Diocese of Gaylord titled, ” Diocese of Gaylord A Complete Accounting”. Gaylord Diocesan Watch has reviewed the report. Our findings are given as a series of articles. These articles contain sensitive material that may not be suitable for non-adult audiences. Gaylord Diocesan Watch is committed to spreading truth for the good of the Gaylord Diocese. It is our desire to describe the following information with as much respect and charity as possible.
The following information is extremely concerning. The recent report on sexual abuse from the Michigan Attorney General (page 14 of the report) reveals a most troubling situation regarding Fr. James Gardiner, listed on the Diocesan website as of this writing as “Senior Priest, Sacramental Minister St. Anthony of Padua-Mackinaw City”. Fr. Gardiner was appointed this role in May 2022, two months after Bishop Walsh became bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord.
Fr. Gardiner admitted to police that in 1996, he performed a sex act on a male (John Doe 1). The lurid and disgusting details of this can be found in the report. This information was forwarded to Bishop Cooney in 1998.
Years later, Fr. Gardiner was also accused of sexual abuse by another male individual (John Doe 2). These charges were found not to be credible by the Diocesan Review Board, although according to the Attorney General report, police were informed by the Diocese that Fr. Gardiner was “disciplined” and was assigned to “an administrative capacity where he would no longer have contact with Catholic parishioners” due to allegations of John Doe 2. What is on display here is a significant discrepancy. Fr. Gardiner, if he was disciplined, and placed away from parishioners, was placed back in ministry a few years later!
In a twist of irony, which unfortunately is too often par for the course, in 2021, Fr. Gardiner was named temporary Administrator to cover the leaving of Fr. Bryan Medlin, who was taken out of ministry due to inappropriate conversations and text messages with high school students at St. Mary School, Lake Leelenau. This was ordered by Bishop Walter Hurley, the disgraced former administrator of the Diocese. Fr. Gardiner was then named “Senior Priest, Sacramental Minister St. Anthony of Padua-Mackinaw City” in 2022.
This priest has no business being in ministry. Why did Bishop Walsh allow this to occur? What did Bishop Walsh know about Fr. Gardiner when Fr. Gardiner was made Sacramental Minister two months after Bishop Walsh was installed? Why was Fr. Gardiner allowed to be in ministry after performing a perversity on a male who, according to the report, described himself as “suicidal at the time and that he had tried getting in touch with Father Gardiner earlier in the day and had left a message for Father Gardiner to get a hold of him”? Is this how a priest counsels a troubled member of the flock – with a sex act? Why is Fr. Gardiner allowed in ministry for the Diocese of Gaylord?