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 reports of abuse in Michigan dioceses by the Michigan Attorney General represents a sad chapter in the state of Michigan government as well as the Church in Michigan. To date, the report has garnered no convictions. It has drudged up, in some circumstances, allegations that can never be proven as the alleged perpetrator and/or the person alleging the crime are both dead. In addition, no other institution in Michigan has received the same scrutiny as the Catholic Church. How about other Christian denominations? How about the public school system in Michigan?

The timing of the report is also curious. Why has the state of Michigan chosen to release the reports about the dioceses in stages, during 2023 – 2024? The current state legislature and governor are no friends of the Catholic Church when it comes to abortion, gender ideology, assisted suicide, and a host of other issues. Trashing the Church and its leadership would be a reasonable way to discredit them if continued legislation on these issues comes up and Church leaders speak out against the proposed legislation. Discredited leaders make for poor persuaders. At this time, legislation to drop the statute of limitations for certain crimes as well as other legislation regarding assisted suicide are being proposed in the state legislature. How can Catholic clergy be leaders in speaking out about these issues when these reports are being published?

It is curious that some allegations of abuse or sexual harassment have not been noted in the Report. Why not? Did the Diocese convince the Attorney General not to publish that data? What if a priest was wrongly accused and then exonerated? Why was the public not made aware of that finding that could give some balance and objectiveness to the Report?

The report also brings up questions as to how the dioceses in Michigan responded:

  • Did the bishops and their attorneys fight hard to prevent scurrilous or unprovable allegations from being published?  How hard did the bishops fight to keep the reputations of priests intact if they were not guilty of a charge?  Are priests really innocent until proven guilty?  How hard did the Diocese fight to keep allegations of dead priests and dead accusers, neither of whom could speak to their innocence or guilt, from being dredged up for public consumption?
  • Did the bishops of Michigan possibly aid in the smearing of the Church by simply handing over files and not questioning the outcomes?
  • Why did Bishop Walsh not do anything about Fr. Gardiner, Fr. Geyman, or Fr. Cotter until the Report came out in January? The Diocese noted it had a rough draft of the Report two months prior to its publication; why was nothing done at that time? Had the Report not come out, would the Bishop have done anything? The same action occurred when Fr. Medlin was accused of wrongdoing – Bishop Hurley did not act until his sexual misconduct was made public. Why does it take a public shaming for a bishop to act? Is the bishop not aware that this destroys trust in the faithful?

It is because of these questions, as well as a host of other reasons noted in our posts, that Gaylord Diocesan Watch needs to exist. It is abundantly clear that the Diocese is not able to competently regulate its activities without the aid and assistance of faithful Catholics to help it in its mission. Every diocese should have an organization such as Gaylord Diocesan Watch if the bishop, clergy, and administration of the diocese are not capable of adequately managing the affairs of the diocese in a way that is consistent with Catholic church teaching. Gaylord Diocesan Watch would not need to be in existence if the Diocese competently, transparently and consistently communicated and interacted with faithful Catholics in concert with Church teaching. Bishop Walsh has yet to agree to a meeting with members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch. We continue to hope and pray that he will meet his duties as father and shepherd of the souls in this Diocese and meet with those who, in charity, wish to give their concerns and help him.