Suspended Priest Found “On the Job” in Gaylord

Though a Michigan priest was supposedly “permanently removed from ministry” in 2002, he was recently working as a sacristan and alone around boys in church according to a new report.

In 2016, Gaylord Bishop Steven J. Raica received a letter complaining that Fr. James A. Holtz was seen helping an altar boy with his belt. Then, six months later, he received a second letter.

It was only then that Raica supposedly began taking action. But he should have shouted from the rooftops and called police the minute he heard Fr. Holtz was working again in a church. Tragically, Bishop Raica did not. He kept quiet instead. We shudder to think of how many children were put at risk because of this reckless decision.

Given how easily Fr. Holtz was able to begin working again in a new parish, we can only help but wonder how many other suspended or even defrocked priests are functioning in other roles around vulnerable kids and unsuspecting families in churches throughout the US.

We commend Joni Hosler and other concerned parishioners for speaking up. We wish, however, that they had called the police and sounded the alarm publicly. We hope anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups by Gaylord clerics will contact law enforcement immediately.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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