In face of scandal, Saginaw Bishop Cistone has a history protecting “the institution of the church”
Father Robert DeLand was the priest entrusted with recruiting and guiding young men thinking of becoming Catholic priests. He was also the pastor of a parish in the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw. Now, he stands accused of sexual assault and gross indecency based on the accusations of a 17-year-old high school student and a 21-year-old man.
Local law enforcement says his bishop, Joseph Cistone, and the diocese are not cooperating with the investigation. That led to police raiding the bishop's home last month, as well as the offices and the cathedral rectory of the Diocese of Saginaw.
This is not the first time a priest sex abuse scandal has been connected with Bishop Joseph Cistone.
He was an auxiliary bishop in Philadelphia when that archdiocese, and its late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, came under immense scrutiny for an apparent effort to cover up sexual abuse committed by its priests. A grand jury report strongly condemned the archdiocese for its handling of sexual predator priests.
David O'Reilly is a 35-year veteran reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer who covered religion and the Catholic Church. O’Reilly joined Stateside to discuss the former scandal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Cistone’s involvement in the archdiocese, and his impression of the bishop’s philosophy and character.
Saginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan Jr. has announced he has formed a special investigative team to coordinate and investigate allegations of abuse involving officials within the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw. We requested an interview with the prosecutor's office, and they did not back to us by air time today.
The Saginaw diocese sent us a statement that says:
"It would be inappropriate for the Diocese of Saginaw to comment on the specifics due to the ongoing criminal investigation, as well as pending civil litigation. The Diocese has and continues to encourage any victims of clergy abuse or anyone who knows a victim to make direct contact with law enforcement."