New Saginaw Catholic bishop pledges transparency in priest sexual abuse allegations | Michigan Radio
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New Saginaw Catholic bishop pledges transparency in priest sexual abuse allegations

May 24, 2019

“There is no place in the church for sexual abuse of minors or anyone else," says incoming Saginaw Catholic Bishop Robert Gruss
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Saginaw’s new Catholic bishop says he’s committed to “transparency and accountability” on matters concerning sexual abuse by priests.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Robert Gruss to take over the Diocese of Saginaw earlier this month. Gruss held his introductory news conference Friday, shortly before Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against five Catholic priests in different parts of Michigan. The Attorney General's office is investigating allegations of sexual abuse in all of Michigan's Catholic dioceses.

Gruss has dealt with similar allegations in his current posting in Rapid City, South Dakota. In March, the Diocese of Rapid City released a list of 21 priests accused of sexual misconduct dating back to 1951. Twenty on the list are dead. The sole living priest on the list pleaded guilty in February to sexually touching a 13-year-old girl.

“There is no place in the church for sexual abuse of minors or anyone else,” says Gruss. “My desire is that the Church becomes holy in the way that Christ calls her to be, and those who abuse their power and authority are held to accountability.”

In recent years, the Saginaw diocese has dealt with several cases involving allegations against priests.

In April, Rev. Robert Deland entered a plea of no contest to criminal sexual conduct. This week, Rev. Dennis Kucharczyk was removed from ministry amid an allegation of misconduct with a minor.

Under the previous bishop, police raided diocesan properties searching for evidence as part of an investigation into criminal sexual assault. 

Gruss will serve as the Saginaw Diocese's seventh bishop. The diocese includes Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Sanilac, Saginaw and Tuscola counties.

Gruss’ installation in Saginaw is scheduled for July 26.