|Anchorage Archdiocese Suspends Priest for Repeated Violations of ‘code of Conduct’
By Joel Davidson
May 4, 2011
Due to accusations of inappropriate relationships with three adult women, Father J. Michael Hornick, a priest of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, has been suspended from all priestly duties and a formal process has begun to ensure that he can no longer function as a priest within the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Anchorage announced these actions May 2, one day after an open apology was read at St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in Anchorage — the last parish where Father Hornick served from 2006 to 2009.
Father Hornick is accused of three boundary violations with women. The first was reported in 1997, when Archbishop Francis Hurley was still the Archbishop of Anchorage. At that time, Father Hornick was sent to a treatment facility, Anchorage Archdiocese Judicial Vicar Father Thomas Brundage told the Catholic Anchor.
The second complaint surfaced in July of 2009 and was handled by the Byzantine Eparchy of Van Nuys where Father Hornick was pastor at St. Nicholas of Myra in Anchorage.
“After a thorough investigation, Father Hornick was forced to resign as pastor [in 2009] and was placed in retirement by the Archdiocese of Anchorage with restricted faculties,” Father Brundage explained.
The third complaint, however, came in January of this year and Father Hornick was immediately suspended of all priestly ministries.
Father Hornick is a priest of the Anchorage Archdiocese but he was on loan from 2006 to 2009 to the Eparchy of Van Nuys, an Eastern Catholic church structure that is in full union with the pope in Rome but which has a separate hierarchy and leadership from Roman Catholic dioceses. As such, the eparchy is independent of the Anchorage Archdiocese.
St. Nicholas parish is under the authority of Bishop Gerald Dino, of the Van Nuys Eparchy based in Phoenix, Ariz.
A letter from Bishop Dino was read after the May 1 Sunday liturgy at St. Nicholas apologizing for Father Hornick’s alleged boundary violations with a female parishioner.
According to the letter, Father Hornick is accused of failing to uphold the code requiring “clear, appropriate boundaries in all counseling and counseling relationships,” including violating the code that prohibits physical contact such as “touching, hugging, holding” between pastoral counselors and the people they counsel.
Bishop Dino said the Eparchy “deeply regrets what has transpired” and any impact it has had on parishioners.
A statement by Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz affirmed the letter by Bishop Dino.
“I concur with Bishop Dino’s statement. As Archbishop of Anchorage on January 21, 2011, I canonically suspended Father J. Michael Hornick from all priestly duties and have initiated additional canonical proceedings under the Code of Canon Law to deal with Father Hornick’s behavior,” Archbishop Schwietz said.
“I join Bishop Dino in thanking the victim for coming forth with this disturbing violation of the Code of Conduct and in apologizing for any harm that was done.”
In light of the accusations, the Archdiocese of Anchorage has started the process of laicizing Father Hornick, which would permanently prohibit him from practicing as a priest.
“Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz and I met with officials at the Vatican in April to consult with them on this matter and seek guidance,” Father Brundage told the Catholic Anchor. “They concurred with our decision to have Father Hornick laicized.”
Archbishop Schwietz urged anyone who believes they were harmed by Father J. Michael Hornick to contact the Anchorage Archdiocese victim assistance coordinator, Rosemary Insley at or STAR at (907) 276-7279.
Father Brundage answered a series of questions from the Catholic Anchor regarding the actions taken in against Father Hornick. Those complete responses can be read here.
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