Some Saginaw Diocese parishioners are calling for Saginaw Bishop Joseph R. Cistone to step down after prosecutors say his diocese failed to cooperate in an ongoing sexual abuse investigation. Police executed the search warrants and raided his house because of his refusal to provide key details in their investigation. Rectory at the Cathedral and Catholic Diocese of Saginaw offices were also searched alongside bishop Cistone’s home, and documents and hard drives were removed.
Cistone was never prosecuted and he never faced criminal charges. Only one diocese priest has been criminally charged. Robert De Land was arrested on February 25 on accusations he sexually assaulted two males in his Saginaw Township condominium. Another diocese priest, Ronald J. Dombrowski, was suspended earlier in March by the diocese after they received a report he allegedly sexually assaulted a person when they were a minor. He has not been criminally charged, according to MLive Media Group.
This was not the first time Cistone had tried to protect priests who were accused of sexual abuse. Cistone was a high-ranking member of the Philadelphia Archdiocese when he was accused of protecting a priest known for his “predilection for naked children.” According to grand jury report Cistone was given several updates on efforts to silence a nun who tried informing parishioners about a priest’s past, particularly his “predilection for naked children,” as Patheos reports. In 2012, Cistone was accused of refusing to confirm that he witnessed the shredding of documents that contained information about the priests accused of child abuse.
Repeating involvement in situations where priests are accused of sexual abuse and suspicion that he protected the accused in two states is hardly only a coincidence. According to Mlive Media Group, some of the parishioners are insisting that he must step down from his position.
"He has no credibility," said Mary Ureche, a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Saginaw Township. "The reason he's here is because of the cover-up and shredding of documents in Philadelphia."
"The Diocese of Saginaw needs somebody who can fix this, and I don't think Bishop Cistone can," Nathan Medina, who grew up worshiping at Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw, said.
Maybe Cistone avoided criminal charges, but by protecting the accused and preventing the investigation he became an accomplice and is also responsible for the consequences that occurred. Especially because this is something that has already happened to Cistone while he performed his role as a member of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Photo Credits: Church Militant