MI- Grand Haven priest takes leave of absence, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Friday, September 19, 2014
A Michigan Catholic priest will take a leave of absence over a sexual encounter with an adult. If she is or was a parishioner, we are deeply concerned. In 17 states, such conduct is illegal.
Fr. Bill Langlois from St. Patrick’s/St. Anthony’s Parish in Grand Haven admits he became sexually involved with a woman.
A highly educated, allegedly celibate man who holds the revered title Catholic priest cannot ever have truly consensual sex with a congregant. Catholics have been raised since birth to believe priests are God's representatives on earth, can forgive our sins, can turn wafers and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Priests always hold an exalted position, and when they have any sexual involvement with parishioners, it is always wrong and hurtful.
There is an inherent power imbalance between clergy and church members. It is much like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. It's the bishop's duty to help congregants understand this.
We hope Bishop David Walkowiak will explain this to parishioners and take necessary precautions that no other people are hurt. We also hope he aggressively reaches out to the public and parishioners – not just in Grand Haven, but in other places where Fr. Langlois worked – and urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered exploitation by the priest to get help and speak up so that others might be safer and be healed.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
SNAP will be Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors in Rome!
We are taking the fight to Rome and are standing up for all survivors on a world stage! From February 19-25, Board President Tim Lennon, Seattle Leader Mary Dispenza, Los Angeles Leader Esther Hatfield Miller and Austin Leader Carol Midboe will be traveling to Rome for Pope Francis' Papal Abuse Summit.
If you are a member of the media and looking to get in touch with these survivors while in Rome, click here for our media advisory and contact information. If you are interested in connecting with a survivor in the US from your area of coverage, please contact one of the SNAP leaders in the US listed below:
- East Coast/DC: Becky Ianni (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044)
- Midwest/Chicago: Zach Hiner (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
- Midwest/St. Louis: David Clohessy (email@example.com, 314314-566-9790)
- West Coast / San Francisco: Melanie Sakoda (firstname.lastname@example.org, 925-708-6175)
If you are looking to help spread the word about the importance of this summit and for survivors to be heard, add your voice to the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PBC2019. Be sure to follow SNAP on twitter and Facebook and share our posts, add your comments, and let the world know that we are watching!Learn More