Michigan AG Forces Transparency on Church Officials in Marquette
Once again, thanks to the intrepid work by Michigan’s Attorney General, we now know much more about the issue of clergy abuse within the state of Michigan. We are grateful to A.G. Dana Nessel and her team for their transparency and for releasing a report that provides parents, parishioners, and the public with far more detail about the extent of clergy abuse in Marquette than had been provided by Catholic officials.
The report released by A.G. Nessel includes the names and details of 44 priests who worked, lived, or spent time in the Diocese of Marquette. Of those men, 38 were trained, ordained, and employed by the Diocese itself. This report flies in the face of supposed transparency and honesty from Church officials from Marquette, where the names of only eight abusive priests had been released. Just like in Illinois and Pennsylvania, the lists released by Catholic leaders have been proven to be insufficient and inaccurate when investigated by secular law enforcement.
It should be embarrassing to Church officials in Marquette that A.G. Nessel was able to find and name five times as many abusers as those same officials had acknowledged. Bishop John Doerfler should be ashamed and his parishioners should ask pointed questions about what he really means when he claims to be “committed to do all he can to prevent clergy sexual abuse.” In this case, that commitment clearly does not extend to being honest with his flock about the extent of abuse within his Diocese.
We applaud A.G. Nessel and her team for once again dragging the half-truths and misrepresentations by Catholic officials into the light. We hope that people throughout Michigan will read the report and demand more of their leadership, regardless of whether they worship in Marquette or one of the state’s other dioceses. It is not hard to imagine that the cover-up in Marquette would be replicated throughout the state.
Additionally, we hope that this news encourages other victims who may still be suffering in silence to come forward and make a report to the Attorney General’s office. Unlike in other states where attorneys general claim to be working on behalf of victims but have little to show for it, we believe that the reports released and convictions achieved by the Michigan team shows that they are truly dedicated to transparency and pursuing justice on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse. We hope that any survivor, witness, or whistleblower with information will come forward and aid the Attorney General in her ongoing work to clean up the Catholic dioceses in Michigan.
(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)