Bishop Walter Hurley was appointed administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw following the death of Bishop Joseph Cistone in October.
Hurley is leading the diocese until the pope names a permanent replacement.
In an interview with TV5, Hurley released new details about the diocese’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations following the charges against Father Robert DeLand and the overall state of the diocese.
Hurley said the diocese has cut ties with the judge who Cistone appointed to oversee allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic diocese.
Cistone appointed Judge Michael Talbot of the Michigan State Appeals Court to be a special independent delegate last April.
Under Cistone, Talbot was to assume full authority within the diocese with regards to all matters involving the alleged sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct by clergy.
There was some push back on this, especially from the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor’s office said the diocese should not be used as a clearing hour for the reporting of crimes by victims.
After Cistone passed away in October, Hurley took the helm in Saginaw. When he was appointed he said he agreed to move on without Talbot because he wants to be transparent and open. Hurley said he didn’t see Talbot as being needed any longer.
“I think to a greater extent, communications broke down between the diocese and civil authority. It was with the hope that Judge Talbot would be able to help in that regard, but it didn’t turn out that way,” Hurley said.
Hurley said he feels he can handle most of what Talbot was doing. He said any allegation of abuse in the diocese will be passed on to law enforcement immediately without the need for the diocese to investigate first.
"We want to recognize the rules between civil authority and the church. Each has a different role to play," Hurley said.
Hurley is looking to move the diocese in a positive direction after multiple scandals and criminal investigations.
"It's not something that you can just put a program in and say all of a sudden there's going to be trust. It has to be by dealing with the issues at hand, being very open about what we're trying to do," Hurley said.
Hurley also removed Father Edwin Dwyer, a chaplain at Saginaw Valley State University and administrator at Our Lady of Peace in Bay City.
Hurley said Dwyer was bringing back traditional teachings that caused too much division within the church.
"He brought in a style of worship that many people found very difficult. So there's a great deal of turmoil in the parish. So the issue is not so much Father Dwyer, it's more about the issue of the division in the parish," Hurley said.
Hurley said he hopes his direction will bring more stability and harmony to the diocese of Saginaw.
"Father Dwyer only strove to bring his Parish into compliance with the Church’s official liturgical norms and doctrine. According to public reports, not everyone agreed with this effort, despite the great fruits and increase in Mass attendance," according to Marc Balestrieri JCL, the canon lawyer representing Dwyer.
You can read Dwyer's statement here.