Announcement from Bishop John Folda on allegations against the late Bishop Sullivan

Diocese of Fargo ND

July 2, 2021

The Diocese of Fargo has been informed by the Diocese of Lansing, MI that after an investigation, accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor made against the late Bishop James Sullivan, sixth Bishop of Fargo, and previously a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, have been deemed credible. The Diocese of Lansing has added Bishop Sullivan’s name to its list of clergy with credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

As a result of this, the Diocese of Fargo has also added Bishop Sullivan’s name to its list of clergy who served or ever lived within the Diocese of Fargo who are on the list of another diocese/religious order. 

“I am saddened by the reports concerning Bishop Sullivan, and I am sure the faithful of the Diocese of Fargo share in my disappointment,” said Bishop Folda. “I ask that we join in prayers for healing and continue in our resolve and efforts to protect those whom we serve.”

The accusations allege the incidents took place several decades ago when Bishop Sullivan was a priest in the Lansing Diocese. There have been no allegations made against Bishop Sullivan during his time as Bishop of Fargo or after his retirement. Bishop Sullivan passed away June 12, 2006 in Fargo, and cannot respond to the allegations.

Sullivan Middle School, part of the St. John Paul II Catholic Schools network, was named after Bishop Sullivan. Due to this situation, Sullivan Middle School has been renamed Sacred Heart Middle School.

The Diocese of Fargo is committed to the protection of youth. Please report any incidents or suspected incidents of child abuse, including sexual abuse, to civil authorities. If the situation involves a member of the clergy or a religious order, a seminarian, or an employee of a Catholic school, parish, the diocesan offices or other Catholic entity within the diocese, we ask that you also report the incident or suspected incident to Msgr. Joseph Goering, vicar general, at (701) 356-7945 or the victim assistance coordinator, at (701) 356-7965 or by email at To make a report of sexual abuse of a minor and related misconduct by a bishop, go to or call 1-800-276-1562.