Letter: AG Nessel owes Michigan Catholics apology

The Detroit News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel held a press conference Thursday on a very important topic: sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Last year the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office released a report which showed that the Catholic Church within Pennsylvania had been involved in a widespread cover-up of sexual abuse spanning decades.

Attorney General Dana Nessel answers questions from reporters during a press conference Thursday morning in Lansing.

In response, Attorney General Bill Schuette started a similar investigation here in Michigan. Nessel deserves applause for keeping that investigation going.

Unfortunately, Nessel went far beyond simply pledging justice for the victims. In a blatant attempt to make headlines, Nessel made serious and unsubstantiated accusations that the Catholic Church in Michigan was obstructing justice by accusing the Catholic Church of “self-policing” sexual assault cases. This accusation was quickly denied by the Archdiocese of Detroit. 

As a Catholic and a parent, I am deeply alarmed. Since 2002 the Catholic Church has made a commitment to its believers that it would deal with sexual assault cases in accordance with the law. If that is not the case, the attorney general owes it to the people of Michigan to say which dioceses or parishes are not complying.

Instead, Nessel made a blanket statement that instead implicates the Michigan Catholic Church in its entirety in a massive cover-up. The two million Catholics who call the state of Michigan home deserve better.

Nessel said that victims of sexual assault should "ask to see their (investigators) badge and not their rosary," a reference to Roman Catholics use of devotional prayer beads. As a Catholic, I find this statement extremely troubling. The rosary is a very sacred devotion to Catholics, and to turn it into the butt of a joke to score headlines is highly inappropriate.

Making light of any groups religious practices to score cheap headlines is wrong and Nessel owes Catholics across Michigan an immediate apology.

Tony Zammit, spokesman

Michigan Republican Party