A retired Catholic priest who served a lakeshore parish has been dismissed by Pope Francis from the clerical state due to sexual abuse.
Retired priest Fr. William Langlois' dismissal includes a dispensation from all obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy.
According to the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Langlois may no longer minister as a priest, celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical dress, or present himself as a priest.
In September 2014, Langlois was on leave for six months. A spokesman for the Diocese of Grand Rapids said Langlois was taking leave from his duties at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish for having an inappropriate, but not illegal, relationship with a woman. The spokesman said the leave is an opportunity to heal.
Back in Sept. 2014, the diocese described Langlois as a very popular priest, and leaders hoped he return to his duties after his leave.
In April 2016, he was granted senior priest status, which means he has not been assigned to a parish since that time.
However, Pope Francis dismissal of Langlois announced on Friday, May 7, 2021, comes after a victim-survivor who approached the Diocese of Grand Rapids in 2018. The incidents of sexual abuse that occurred from 1999-2006 happened while Langlois was serving as pastor of St. Patrick - St. Anthony Parish in Grand Haven the diocese said.
According to the Diocese of Grand Rapids, these incidents began while the victim-survivor was a minor and continued into adulthood. The diocese immediately notified local authorities, who worked with the Office of the Michigan Attorney General to investigate the allegations.
Though Langlois was already retired, the Diocese of Grand Rapids didn't allow Langlois to participate in any type of public ministry as soon as they learned of the allegations.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids' Review Board assessed the allegation made against Langlois and advised Bishop Walkowiak that it was true. Bishop Walkowiak forwarded the results of the preliminary canonical investigation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for their determination on the case.
“It takes courage for survivors to share their story. I am appreciative this survivor came forward and I hope that this announcement will aid in the healing process,” Bishop Walkowiak said in a press release. “As Bishop, I renew my profound apologies to all those who have suffered abuse in the Church. I continue my prayers and support for their recovery and healing.”
Feb. 24, 1974: Ordained to the priesthood
1974: Associate pastor, St. Stephen Parish, East Grand Rapids
1976: Associate pastor, St. Jude Parish, Grand Rapids.
1979: Chaplain for Blodgett and Butterworth Hospitals, Grand Rapids
1984: Pastor, St. Michael Parish, Coopersville with a mission at Grand Valley State University
1996: Pastor, St. Patrick – St. Anthony Parish, Grand Haven
2016: Granted Senior Priest Status (retired)
To report abuse: Any person who suspects the sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy or by any person acting in the name of the Catholic Church is urged to make a formal complaint to the Michigan Attorney General’s Hotline at 844-324-3374.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, either as a child or an adult, by someone representing the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Grand Rapids urges you to come forward to seek help. A report can be made regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred. Every diocese has a victim assistance coordinator who is available to help survivors make a formal complaint and obtain support:
To contact the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Grand Rapids:
Call: 616-840-2079, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to:
Diocese of Grand Rapids - Cathedral Square Center
Attn: Victim Assistance Coordinator
360 Division Ave. S.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.