Michigan AG seizes Catholic dioceses’ records in abuse probe

Over third of US Catholics question membership amid abuse crisis

Michigan authorities have seized records from every Catholic diocese in the state as part of an investigation into possible sexual abuse by clergy, the dioceses said in separate statements released Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of Detroit, and dioceses in Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Marquette and Saginaw said their offices were served search warrants Wednesday morning from Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette’s office announced last month that it would be looking into possible sexual abuse by priests in the state’s seven dioceses.

CNN has reached out to Schuette’s office for comment.

A post on the attorney general’s website says the investigation will be “independent, thorough, transparent and prompt” and will “find out who knew what, and when.”

“The Michigan Department of Attorney General has determined that a full and complete investigation of what happened within the Catholic Church is required,” the post says.

Church officials said they are cooperating with the investigation.

In a statement posted to its website Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Detroit said it “welcomes the Attorney General investigation as part of its continuing commitment to transparency and healing.”

The archdiocese said it granted Schuette’s office access to “files regarding clergy misconduct” that were housed in the Archdiocese’s Cardinal Mooney Building, on the seminary campus in Detroit and in the office of Monsignor Michael Bugarin, the Archbishop’s Delegate for Clergy Misconduct.

Pennsylvania report

Michigan’s investigation is one of several launched following the release in August of a report by a Pennsylvania grand jury detailing decades of alleged sexual abuses by priests and cover-ups by bishops in that state.

The report said internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania — some held in a secret archive to which only the bishop had a key — showed that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.

In addition to Michigan, officials in several other states, including Illinois and Missouri, have launched inquiries into allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic clergy.

The Catholic Church has been plagued by clergy sex abuse scandals spanning the globe for more than 30 years.

Last month, the US Catholic bishops’ conference issued an apology for the role of bishops in the scandal and announced new initiatives to hold abusive or negligent bishops accountable.

The statement came a week after the conference’s leadership met with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace in Rome.

Francis has summoned the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world to the Vatican next February to discuss the “protection of minors.”