“Incomprehensible”—UPDATED

That’s how one parishioner in this post by Frank Weathers describes the story behind this picture. It shows a priest who confessed to groping a teenager in 2001 evidently having a very good time in 2010.

With teenagers.

Details:

Amid calls for a Vatican investigation, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers came under fierce criticism Monday for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

At the Monmouth County church where the Rev. Michael Fugee had been spending time with a youth group, angry parishioners said they were never told about Fugee’s background and they questioned Myers’ defense of the priest, the subject of a lengthy story in the Sunday Star-Ledger.

“It’s complete craziness that the church can let this happen,” said John Santulli, 38, a father of two at St. Mary Parish in Colts Neck. “I’m a softball coach, and I need a background check just to get on the field. Every single person I spoke to today said, ‘Oh my God. I didn’t know about this.’ It’s incomprehensible.”

Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell, who previously said Fugee was operating in the diocese without his knowledge or permission, has ordered the pastor of St. Mary to bar the priest from any church activities, a spokeswoman said in a statement Monday.

Read more. 

UPDATE: From Frank Weathers’s blog, which cites calls among some for the archbishop to resign:

“Enough is enough,” said [State Senator Joseph] Vitale, who has pushed for laws that aid victims of sexual abuse. “Based on everything that’s happened, not just in New Jersey but around the country and the world, you have to follow the spirit of the law, and they have not done that in this case. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance.”

Myers, the state’s highest ranking Roman Catholic official, was not alone in facing scathing criticism. At St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, longtime parishioners called for the removal of the pastor, the Rev. Thomas Triggs, and the removal of the two youth ministers who invited Fugee to take part in youth group activities.

The lay minsters, Michael and Amy Lenehan, are longtime friends with Fugee. A spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese has said Triggs and the Lenehans knew of the priest’s past and of the agreement Fugee reached with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in 2007. The three were monitoring Fugee accordingly, the spokesman has said.

But like the lawmakers, parishioners said it was clear Fugee should not have been in the presence of children at all, supervision or no supervision.

“There aren’t enough words to describe how we feel,” said Grace Collins, 68, a member of the parish for three decades.


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