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. In addition to the links in articles, interested individuals may find the Attorney General’s Report in our Document Library.
The recent report of the Michigan Attorney General lists a series of clergy in the Diocese of Gaylord who have been accused of sexual misconduct. However, some have voiced concerns as to the accuracy of the report.
As an example, the allegations against the disgraced Fr. Stilwell were not in the report. In fact, Fr. Stilwell is not even listed as an accused clergy even though he had allegations of sexual harassment lodged against him. Furthermore, it was Fr. Stilwell who allowed Fr. James Holtz, a self-admitted child molester, to work with children at St. Francis Xavier Church after Fr. Holtz was taken out of ministry. Fr. Holtz was also given other assignments at St. Francis by Fr. Stilwell. It was not until the sordid past of Fr. Holtz was made known to the public that Holtz was taken out of his roles at St. Francis Xavier Church. Despite this scandal and other scandals surrounding Fr. Stilwell, Stilwell is not listed in the report and continues to serve as a sacramental minister.
Several other examples of the report not being accurate are examples of the lack of accountability of Diocesan bishops who participated in the scandals. Bishop Cooney allowed the serial child molester Fr. Shirilla to be transferred from the Archdiocese of Detroit to the Gaylord Diocese. Under Bishops Hebda and Raica, the disgraced Fr. Stilwell was allowed to enlist the assistance of Fr. Holtz. Under Bishops Hurley and Walsh, molester Fr. Gardiner was in ministry until this report came out. Bishop Walsh remarked at one of the listening sessions sponsored by the Diocese that, “I can’t speak for other bishops.” Is he not a representative of the Church? And if he is not able to speak for other bishops, could he not take responsibility for his own actions?
In addition to others, the above examples make the thoroughness and accuracy of the report in question, at least when it comes to the depth and breadth of abuse in the Diocese. Did the priests listed only commit crimes listed in the report? Are there more priests than those listed in the report with credible allegations of sexual misconduct? What about misconduct to a vulnerable adult?