What is the *matter* with this guy?

How, at this late date, can a bishop still be such an utter, utter numbskull?

Newark Abp Myers allows priest who *admitted* groping boy to continue working with children

What baffles me is the sheer gratuitous, wilful, reckless, irresponsibly wicked stupidity of this stuff. 30 years ago, when the Smart People were saying that second chances and rehab would fix it, I can imagine a dumb bishop listening to The Experts[TM] against his better judgment and putting a perv back in circulation.  But 20 years after Rudy Kos and the pileup of evidence that this is just stupidly endangering children to no purpose, and 10 years after the immense catastrophe of 2002?  And 10 years *after* saying “We will never endanger children again?”  And with an entire civilization now hyper-focused on the expectation that a bishop will do the stupidest and most irresponsible thing possible?  What kind of mentality can possibly be at work inside that way-too-tight mitre to possibly suggest to a bishop that this was a good idea?  Let’s prescind entirely from the most bleeding obvious question “How do we protect children from harm?” (since that does not, even at this late date, seem to be uppermost in the mind of a “shepherd of souls” like this).  My question is “How does even the most selfish, stupid, moral dwarf *possibly* conclude that there is some benefit to be derived from an action like this?  The criminal mind does bad things in order to achieve some selfish good end.  He steals or kills because he hopes to gain some benefit.  But how  on God’s green earth, even if he is an arch-criminal, instead of an archbishop, does a bishop think, “It will be a really good idea if I do something as massively stupid and certain to get into the news thing as put this guy back in circulation with children?” What in hell does he hope to gain?   There’s a sort of preternatural stupidity and wickedness about it.  As though a human being is, with demonic assistance and a sort of anti-grace, going above and beyond what an ordinary pagan moron acting with merely mortal stupidity and wickedness would do.  Absolutely nothing is gained  by it, as is usually the excuse for some evil human act.  It’s just pure stupidity and wickedness for it’s own sake.  I don’t don’t don’t understand it.

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  • jaybird1951

    I totally agree with your comments. Myers has had a good reputation. This decision on his part is incomprehensible and adds fodder to the Church’s enemies. His brother bishops had better have a strong word with him on this if they haven’t already.

    • “Church’s enemies” only? No. I’m a mother in the Church and want this bishop in jail. “Strong word” from brother bishops? No. Demanded resignation. Our outrage at this mismanagement needs to be loud and clear each time it happens. There’s no excuse!

      • There is no proof of mismanagement- the archbishop’s current story is that laity did an end-run around the system.

        • Kevin O’Brien

          That is indeed the “archbishop’s current story”.

        • Newp Ort

          Did you read the whole CNA article, Theodore?

          After the criminal case was complete, the review board said he could return to ministry, the Abp reviewed their decision, sent it to Rome to get their input and it was OK’d. Read the last few paragraphs.

          If the laity did an end around anything it was because the Abp handed off to them with Rome’s approval.

  • Dan Li

    Myers! Why didn’t you send him into isolation in a place far, far away? He signed an agreement, yet he still seems to have access. Stronger measures were needed than that… ack.

  • Rosemarie


    Terrible. Unbelievable.

  • Dan F.

    oh *#$%%^^. I know (and like) Father Mike – I had no idea about any of this.

    • Apparently, neither did the Youth Group Leaders who asked him to do *confessions* for *teenagers* on retreat.

      • Dan F.

        update to my comment – having gone to some people more closely connected to this there appears to be another side of the story (in which Fr. Mike was falsely accused and ‘confessed’ after hours of interrogation, after which the accuser (supposedly) admitted that his father was pushing him to make the accusation for the sake of $$).

        And that Fr. Mike has closely complied with the specifics of his agreement (to limit unsupervised contact with minors) and always had a second person with him (except in the confessional obviously but with a second person close by).

        My own experience with the man is that he is a gifted teacher and minister who cares deeply about the spiritual lives of teens.

        Sometimes I have to remember that there is always more to a story than a reporter or ‘activist group’ with an agenda will report, particularly if it doesn’t fit in with their pre-ordained narrative.

        Mark – I think that you might owe the archbishop an apology.

        • Kevin O’Brien

          Read his confession, Dan. Read his agreement with prosecutors. Read the original documents before you go accusing the police of anything nefarious, or before you accuse Mark Shea of criticizing a bishop who deserves to be criticized. Read them here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/561652-fugee-police-statement.html / https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/528129-fugee-agreement-with-pros-office.html

          • Dan F.

            I’m not accusing anyone. My point was that there is another side to the story that doesn’t fit the preordained narrative.

            • Kevin O’Brien

              Dan, both you and I agree on this: we don’t want a “preordained narrative”. We want the truth. Read the original documents and you’ll have a raw version of the truth free of anyone else’s narrative.

              • Dan F.

                Documents are not the ‘raw version of the truth’ – they are at best a third level interpretation of the truth, even if they are the best available to most people to understand this particular issue (quick primer on my use of interpretation: 1st level occurs when I speak what is in my mind; next level of interpretation happens when someone hears what I have spoken; third level of interpretation happens when that 2nd individual relates (verbally or in writing) what I had originally thought in my mind. It’s a fourth level of interpretation when a 3rd party reads/hears that , etc.)

                I’m more likely to trust people I know than documents created by people I don’t – particularly when (as in this case) the people I know can make a good case for the documents being incomplete (not false or made up – again, not accusing anyone of anything).

                • jrg

                  Dan, these are Fr. Fugee’s own words transcribed: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/561652-fugee-police-statement.html

                  Fr. Fugee was not waterboarded to make these statements.

                  Read an excerpt: (‘A’ is F. Fugee himseld speaking):

                  Q: Was there something that occured between yourself and **** which would be considered inappropriate?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: What was that?

                  A: Well, while wrestling with ****, I grabbed his crotch.

                  Q: Okay. With your hands?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: Over his clothes?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: Why?

                  A: In the — while wrestling, the sudden urge to do it, I did it.

                  Q: Did it excite you in some sort of way?

                  A: No, not to arousal, no.

                  Q: Okay. But did it excite you at all?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: Do you have an interest in males?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: Okay. Would you consider yourself homosexual?

                  A: Bi-sexual, homosexual, I guess, but struggling with that identity.

                  Q: Still to this day?

                  A: Yes.

                  Q: How did **** react after that incident?

                  A: Immediately shut down. Would not talk to me at all the rest of the weekend.

                • kenofken

                  Spoken like a true bishop or his defense attorney. A three-car monte of legalistic moral reasoning. We just can’t know what really happened or if there was a willful violation of paragraph 5, subsection or what the true legislative intent of “shall not” was, so my client must be presumed innocent, and he is the real victim in this unforeseeable tragedy….

                  • Dan F.

                    Not sure if your comment was intended to be a serious reply but thanks for playing!

                • Clare Krishan

                  Transparency would allow the parents to be the judge of that, no? They’re pretty riled up at not being permitted to speak for themselves to their rights as primary educators of their children. With just cause it would appear: the parish Pastor and youth ministers conspired with their Bishop to keep this all under wraps, sad, so sad. These teens now have an emotional cudgel to beat their parents over the head whenever it comes to visits to the sacrament of reconciliation – I don’t want to, how can I trust him?

        • Also, if a priest who has signed an agreement really does “care deeply about the spiritual life of teens”, he will stay away from them. I can care deeply about the spiritual life of my neighbor’s wife, but if I’ve had a problem with her in the past, the best thing I can do for her spiritual life and my own is stay pretty far away.

          • Dan F.

            Agreed but again, assumes that the priest in question actually committed an abuse which is my point. In today’s zero tolerance day and age, if the Diocese and then the CDF both found that no abuse occurred doesn’t it seem that perhaps this story might be being blown way out of proportion by various individuals/organizations who have a specific agenda?

        • Dan F., I had the same issue with a favorite priest. I almost did the same thing these retreat people did- invited him on a retreat where children would be present.

          He refused.

          Fr. Mike didn’t.

          The evidence in both cases was similar. The crimes accused were similar.

          Fr. Don Durand is retired and is forbidden from saying Mass despite the lack of evidence against him, and he’ll die in that state.

          Why isn’t Fr. Mike?

          • Dan F.

            I don’t know the specifics of Fr. Durand’s circumstance.I do know that on the retreat in question Fr. Mike came and said Mass but didn’t stay the night which sounds to me like him being careful.

      • Clare Krishan

        Our archdiocese provide these quidelines to follow for youth retreat leaders, at top of page 3 and page 4

        “VI.A Human experience is the starting point for catechesis of young people. The personal story of youth must be joined to or seen in light of the Christ story [Purity of His Most Sacred Heart, anyone?]. B. Retreat designs and components are based upon the developmental stages of the participants in the areas of: 1. Faith 2. Moral growth [do let’s make sure telling the truth is on the curriculum, shall we?]”

        “2. Preparation for Retreat Leaders [make sure they can read? ] b.Ensure all Safe Environment requirements are met.” [tricky passive voice there: who’s to “ensure”? The parents after the fact?]

        (my annotations inserted in italics)

        Does Newark’s Bishop Myers not consider this prudent practice? Did the pastor never consider the unintended consequences to his witness of the Faith in the Tristate area of being so lackadaisical?

  • Leon Suprenant

    I don’t know the facts of this situation, but I am appalled that you would find it necessary to write a post that calls a respected archbishop an “utter numbskull.” Maybe he is, but that’s not the point. Why call anyone, let alone a successor of the apostles, such a name? You’re a very smart guy, but I think this ad hominem attack for no discernible constructive purpose shows bad judgment.

    • chezami

      “Utter numbskull” is kind compared to the language most parents would use about a bishop who deliberately puts a groper in contact with their children. I kept it clean.

    • For this “successor of the apostles” who warrants the title about as much as Cardinal Mahoney does, utter numbskull is indeed kind.

      • I take this back- more facts are in. It is hard to accuse the archbishop of making a bad decision in a situation where the laity did an end-run around the system.

    • Jason Negri

      How dare you show more resentment for Mark’s choice of words than for Myers and his ilk?! You’re “appalled”? Your comments evince the sort of clericalist attitude that allows this “above the law” behavior to continue.

    • bruceinkansas

      I think Leon’s point is that whether the archbishop acted as a numbskull or not (and he seemingly did) is still not justification for publicly calling him names. When more facts are in, we might be better able in some way to understand how he made such an apparently spectacularly bad decision.

      • chezami

        Whereas I think the issue is that swallowing camels like child molestation is vastly more important than straining at gnats like expressing frustration about bishops who keep. on. swallowing. camels.

      • And more facts are in, and the answer was: He wasn’t consulted in the decision.

        • enness

          Fair enough. I think we can generalize my point above – “stupid is as stupid does”

    • enness

      I would suggest that if he doesn’t want to get called a numbskull, he shouldn’t act like one. He is going to hear a lot worse from outside the fold.

    • iamlucky13

      That’s not ad hominem, and appropriate or not, the intended purpose was obviously to emphasize the degree of his disagreement.

    • TIMedWork

      Wasn’t Judas one of the apostles?

  • Perhaps could some people who live in the Newark archdiocese give their perspective about the Abp.’s track record on personnel decisions?

  • kenofken

    There’s no mystery at all to this. Myers is following the same culture of secrecy and non-accountability and collegial deference among bishops and the pope that engineered the crisis. That has not changed at all since the height of the crisis, and so policies and bad press and solemn vows of “never again” and billion-dollar payouts are meaningless.

    This culture of leaders is groomed and selected for traits of institutional loyalty and corporate sociopathy. Doing the wrong thing is perfectly logical to men of this mind, and there are zero personal consequences when they get caught. It makes perfect sense that he would do this.

    Until the Church gets serious about changing this culture, or we start sending bishops to die in jail, we will continue to read stories like this on a monthly basis or more, for the forseeable future. Get serious about it or get used to it, and get used to having the Catholic brand closely identified with abuse in the greater society.

    • The point is we were *supposed* to get serious about this a good 10 years ago- we did in my archdiocese, which is why the last bad actor priest ended up in jail before the archbishop knew what was going on.

    • And it appears the Newark Archdiocese is handling this appropriately, see link above.

    • iamlucky13

      “bishops and the pope that engineered the crisis”

      Either you completely misunderstand the term “engineered” or you have paid even less attention to the crisis than those who misguide themselves into defending the malfeasance that led to it.

      What happened was not a result of deliberate planning. It was a failure to uphold the duties of being shepherds of the church AND to see past the babble of those who in the 70’s and 80’s were promoting in the field of psychology that these deviances could be dealt with.

      “we will continue to read stories like this on a monthly basis or more, for the forseeable future.”

      You won’t any more than you have for the past decade, because change HAS taken place. I’ve been involved in working with youth in the Church throughout this time and I’ve seen a sea of change with my own eyes. That’s why a Catholic blogger like Mark is so shocked by this priest’s apparent violations of his plea bargain, because this “grooming for sociopathy” you allege is complete bullcrap.

      Aside from those who weren’t ready to make public the abuses they suffered until just recently, there have been almost no new cases (meaning recently occurring, not recently discovered) in the last several years. I’m actually at a loss to think of one right now, although I won’t claim it hasn’t happened.

      • kenofken

        Bishop Finn was convicted of covering up crimes that he discovered less than three years ago.

        • iamlucky13

          Ok, there’s one I will keep in mind, although from what I looked up, it was a priest viewing child pornography. Still very serious of course, but not quite on par with the priest himself committing assault.

          I’ll also note that despite the fact that this priests actions supported an evil industry and were a warning sign that should not have been ignored, a good precedent was set in that authorities actually did pursue criminal action. We can’t think of ourselves as against the law.

          • kenofken

            It is commendable that law enforcement is finally getting serious about this problem. The nature of the case, and the fact that a bishop can only be trusted to do the right thing by reporting to a probation officer gives the lie to the notion that the hierarchy has changed or now “gets it.”

            There may be fewer opportunities for priests to offend, and maybe even fewer at risk of offending, but the underlying leadership culture that perpetuated the abuse crisis has not changed one iota since the horrible heyday of Bernard Law or Mahony. Even with the benefit of decades of hindsight and a full understanding of how coverup damages the church and victims, the instinct is still not “man up and do the right thing.” It’s “what can we possibly get away with?”

  • Doug Sirman

    I have nothing to add to kenofken’s assessment other than “Exactly!” As far as Leon goes, do you use your right hand or your left to be that holy?

  • PurplePagan

    Firstly, that is an appalling misuse/non-use of a position of authority. To endanger in any way the well-being of other people, especially children, is a heinous transgression and breech of the principals of trust.

    However, “beyond what an ordinary pagan moron acting with merely mortal stupidity and wickedness would do. ” Really? Are you sure you wanted to use this phrase?

    • PurplePagan

      Uncomfortable as I am about replying to one of my own comments…

      Which of the two paragraphs caused someone to vote my comment down?

      The one that says that it’s the responsibility of those in positions of authority to safeguard people and make sure they don’t fall prey to those who would harm or exploit them?

      If not, that leaves the paragraph where I question the wording that insults people of my faith cluster (since paganism is an umbrella term). I’m sorry to say that some of us are a little irked that our faith’s name is still used as a pejorative.

      Maybe it’s my own fault for expecting not to be insulted by enlightened thinkers and authors.

      • Maybe the key is to be in a faith cluster (whatever that is) which is better defined.

        • PurplePagan

          I used the term “faith cluster” given that paganism is a very broad term, including Wiccans, Hellenics, Dianics, Kemetics, Asatruar… It’s a really long list, which sometimes even has been used to include Hindus (although that quite bewilders me). I hope that helped clear that point up.

          If only faiths didn’t need to be grouped together…

          • Newp Ort

            I voted you down because that paragraph is off topic and you aren’t really what Mark’s talking about with paganism (i don’t think). don’t get all bent out of shape about one downvote.

      • The point, PurplePagan, is Jesus’ point, not Mark’s. Jesus points out to the Jews that they have what they consider to be a revelation directly from God. God told them to be just and righteous and revealed how, and yet they don’t seem to be doing any better than those who don’t claim any special revelation from God.

        And the fact is, no matter how you define your “faith cluster”, they don’t claim a revelation from God in the same way that the Jews did. That’s all the “pagan” comment means.

    • PurplePagan

      Thanks to everyone for clearing this up.

      I see now that some people have very loose definitions of the term “pagan” and that I shouldn’t be upset. It’s not like anyone could get upset about the term “child molestation-enabling, phallic headgear proponents” either.

      World view now corrected. *facepalm*

      • Um, you’re the one who adopted a term that was already in the lexicon and chose to apply it to yourself. You can’t be offended at others’ use of a word you co-opted.

        • PurplePagan

          I can and do given that the word’s definition is skewed from it’s original context into a pejorative. I’m sorry my taking offence offended you.

            • PurplePagan

              Lol! Thanks for the giggle. That’s a chuckle for my Monday evening. Cheers!

              • And thank you for taking it in the spirit in which it was intended. 😉 I worried for a second after posting it that I was coming off as too dismissive.

                • PurplePagan

                  It’d be tough to be a Pantheist without a sense of humour. Consider the Platypus… 😉

  • Rachel

    All the more reason to pray. There needs to be a drastic clean up and I’m not sure how that can be done. It is sad to see that some bishops still haven’t got the memo

  • Do we seriously have to go over all this again? The Catholic hierarchy’s authority and power has nothing to do with their moral status. That way lies the Pelagian death of the church and eventual despair.

  • Actually, It looks like we were all mistaken about this:

    The two worst violations were requested without the Archbishop’s knowledge, at the least minute, by *Youth Group Leaders* who are friends with Fr. Fugee.

    I must admit, I almost made the same mistake with a priest who is accused a number of years ago when I invited him to join us on a retreat as a participant.

    Having said this- I sure hope the Newark Chancery Office gets ahold of these youth group leaders and lets them know that asking Fr. Fugee to hear confessions on a retreat is entirely inappropriate.

    • Kevin O’Brien

      Theodore, that article is all spin. Read the article Mark links to and read Fr. Fugee’s confession and the deal he struck with prosecutors, both of which are linked to from that article. Read the original documents. If people had read the original documents in Bp. Finn’s case, they would not have fallen for Donohue’s dishonest spin regarding Finn. Bp. Myers can not so glibly wash his hands of this, despite what “Goodness” suggests and what CNA publishes. Unlike the articles from the New Jersey paper, CNA is not talking to anyone but the PR man of the diocese. The CNA article is not reporting. It’s just publishing the diocese’s official position on this and calling it news.

    • Clare Krishan

      Mike and Amy Lenahan should also be barred from Youth Ministry IMHO, their unscrupulosity falls into the same category of offsense debated at length on another thread re: adults lying to maintain their Catholic employment.

      Perhaps the Bishop is too unaware of today’s highly socially-networked youth: risks from online grooming by unscrupulous adults at unmonitored Catholic venues such as
      (which in turn links to another rather vague ‘youth’ themed site, here
      are legion. Inappropriate online contact absent parental guidance should be 100% off limits. Heck, I can’t use our school’s whiteboards for CCD class without prior permission – who the heck do these goofballs think they are?

  • Jared B.

    I’m surprised nobody’s yet brought up the fact that Abp. Myers is Opus Dei, thereby derailing the whole conversation into competing conspiracy theories & defenses. I don’t have any dog in that fight, but when I read the headline my mind did immediately jump to that Irish priest who heard Robert Hanssen confess about his espionage—and advised him not to turn himself in but simply ‘don’t do it again’. Anti-Opus Dei mudslinging aside, maybe there is something about their spirituality that inclines them to err (sometimes gravely err) on the side of giving criminals a second chance? Again, not a conspiracy theory but I think a reasonable speculation: given that all active members of O.D. have spiritual directors that they take *very* seriously, it is not improbable that Abp. Myers took this question up with his adviser, and may have been acting on some bad advice there. Spokespersons for O.D. always insist that their spiritual direction never veers into telling people how to do their jobs, but there’s enough anecdotal evidence that that depends a lot on the adviser.

  • Michael O’Keefe

    It also begs the question why would he endanger this priest by allowing it to happen? Obviously this man has a problem. This act has put every priest in jeopardy, good and bad. Already they are often publicly abused by the general public due to the acts of the retired Cardinal Mahoney.

    I had to give my fingerprints to *preside at a Hallowe’en party* at my parish in which there would be at least one parent for every family present and at least 5 other adults (ccd teachers) who had the “Protecting God’s Precious Children” class and given their fingerprints. And I have my own children and a clean record!

    • As a teacher and parish worker, I’ve been fingerprinted, like, half a dozen times for public school, private Protestant school, and Catholic parish jobs. Goes with the territory nowadays.

  • Kevin O’Brien

    Apparently, there is always an excuser busy excusing enablers who are busy enabling.

    Theodore Seeber, Abp. Myers was not thwarted by laity who did an end run around him. It is his job as archbishop to protect children and to make sure priests who have worked out deals with prosecutors abide by them. Myers should be keeping tabs on Fr. Fugee, not having the diocesan spokesman (named “Goodness” of all things) giving a combination of lame excuses and outright lies to cover for Fugee’s violations.

    It is not surprising that our shepherds fall short of the high standards of the Christian Faith. It is surprising that they don’t even rise to the low standards of the secular world.

  • Melora

    The problem with people trying to judge the Archbishop–the laity (especially those who are not even Catholic nor attend a parish) don’t know all the facts–who knew what and when. Hopefully a full investigation will be done by both Vatican and police officials regarding all involved. We’ve already seen too many clergyman betray the Church by their abusive actions against children—many of whom were homosexual (the offending clergy). We will never know if they intentionally entered the priesthood to take advantage of the faithful or if they tried to practice celibacy but failed. Either way, there is comfort in knowing that the Catholic Church is currently doing MORE than any other organization (that includes public schools) against abuse of minors. But they need to do much more.

    • Newp Ort

      Ah yes, the homos did it. Abuse of minors is abuse of minors regardless of same/opposite sex.

      and regardless of why the twisted individuals committed the abuse, it was still the hierarchy that shuffled around the abusers allowing them to continue. (or maybe you think it was a bunch of gay bishops, archbishops, monsignors, cardinals that tried to hide the abusers. maybe they planned it to take advantage of the faithful! “Father Steve stop messing up this sweet deal we have goin here! I’m switching you to st alfonso, try to be discreet.)

      like said above, this is same old same old: welfare of children taking a back seat to code of silence and saving face. the church has done a lot to root this out, but should it be any surprise it continues to a lesser degree? it was happening for who knows how man decades (centuries?), it’s gonna take a sustained effort to eliminate it.

  • David

    The pendulum is now at the extreme in which at the first hint of anything we throw people overboard. People are so afraid of what the Church’s critics will say they fall into this trap and put themselves out as the great defenders of the good by leading the charge. First, there are some straw man arguments being put forth: the issue is not that there is a denial of Fugee’s guilt or his agreement not to work with minors. Myers is in no way denying this. The issue is whether he has had any ministry with minors in violation of the agreement, article 4. (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/528129-fugee-agreement-with-pros-office.html). There are only allegations at this point, by a local newspaper. Regardless of whether the paper may be motivated by anti-Catholic bias or not, the fact that people are automatically taking the allegations as proof that the agreement was violated, then constructing a whole narrative based on this is contrary to common sense and justice(innocent until proven guilty?).
    The Archdiocese is stating that his presence near minors of which they know of has always been supervised, which is in conformity with the agreement. And we have to believe them until the contrary is proven, and we cannot immediately label it as an excuse or a lie. The civil authorities are certianly not admitting that this is fact, but will conduct an investigation. So how can others already conclude there is guilt or certianly make criticisms as though this were the case. If it is concluded that Fugee did violate the agreement, with the knowledge and consent of Myers or other diocesan officials, then we can level the criticisms.

    One can add that it was the civil officials who first offered the agreement for Fugee to continue in ministry and did not incarcerate him. Yet it is strange people aren’t throwing stones at them. Why didn’t they disallow him any Church ministry or impose their own supervision or such? Bishops are also in a catch 22 situation: if they don’t dismiss the guy and try to keep tabs on him, they are blamed for harboring or abetting him. (In this regard putting Fugee in a position at the chancery is arguably a good idea as it is precisely a way to keep an eye on him. And not to mention that it is impossible to keep tabs on someone 24/7.) But if a bishop dismisses a guy then he commits something, they are blamed for not keeping an eye on him, letting him loose, etc.

  • Gail Finke

    ” As though a human being is, with demonic assistance and a sort of anti-grace, going above and beyond what an ordinary pagan moron acting with merely mortal stupidity and wickedness would do. Absolutely nothing is gained by it, as is usually the excuse for some evil human act. It’s just pure stupidity and wickedness for it’s own sake. ” SO WELL PUT