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.

One of many sad stories to come out of the Attorney General’s report was that of two priests involved in homosexual activity while in active ministry in the Diocese. The description of this is graphic and disgusting. It is found on page 79 of the report. As a summary, in 2017, Fr. Sylvester Obwaka was charged with sexual assault of a fellow priest. The identity of the accuser has not been publicly listed as news media do not list victims or potential victims of sexual abuse, even if the allegations prove to be dropped in court. Fr. Obwaka denied these allegations. Testimony also revealed conflicting statements by the two priests as to whether or not the sexual activity was consensual.  Fr. Obwaka was eventually found not guilty of the charges. He then disappeared from the Diocese after Bishop Raica suspended his priestly faculties in the Diocese. In the Attorney General’s report, Bishop Raica stated the following:

“Even though the civil trial returned a verdict of “not guilty,” it is necessary for me to take into account other compelling factors. These factors include the issue of scandal, and the publicity of your own testimony before the court which differed from your testimony to me and is now a matter of public record. These factors cause me great concern and unease. I am unable to overcome them.”

This unfortunate affair produced concerns for how the Diocese approached these priests. Fr. Obwaka abruptly left the Diocese although he was found innocent. Furthermore, Fr. Obwaka was left in jail for months before his trial which acquitted him. During this time, the priest that accused him was supported by the Diocese and continues to be in active ministry in the Diocese. Although Fr. Obwaka’s testimony differed from what he told the Diocese, if Fr. Obwaka was innocent of the charges, then the accuser priest’s veracity could also be questioned. The Diocese stated that Fr. Obwaka was to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but was he afforded that opportunity?  

But even more fundamental is the question of whether or not two priests involved in homosexual activity should be in ministry at all. Why is the accuser still in active ministry in the Diocese when not once, from what has been reported, did he publicly renounce homosexuality?  Why was the homosexual activity of these two priests not a cause of “great concern and unease” in Bishop Raica?