MI- Grand Haven priest takes leave of absence, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Friday, September 19, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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