Convicted Child Molesting Priest Resigns: Does that Make it All Better?

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“The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

 Jesus Christ

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has the story. 

Father Fugee, the convicted child molester, has resigned. Archbishop Myers, who put him back with kids after his conviction, has accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la.

Rather than go through another trial, prosecutors required Father Fugee to undergo counseling – which I assume they thought would make him all better – then they required him to sign a document promising he wouldn’t be around children anymore. 

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You may remember Father Fugee. He’s the New Jersey priest who pled guilty to child sexual abuse and whose conviction was subsequently vacated on a technicality by an appellate court. 

Archbishop Myers is the New Jersey archbishop who also signed the document promising that Father Fugee wouldn’t be around children. It sounds like the prosecutors tossed this child molestor back into the same place where he had committed his original crimes on the basis that he had promised them he wouldn’t do it again. 

Prisons are costly enterprises. Just think how much money we could save in Oklahoma if we were smart like these New Jersey prosecutors. We never thought about asking felons to promise us they wouldn’t do it again. Think how much money we’ve wasted, locking people up, when all we had to do was get them to promise us they wouldn’t do it ever, ever, ever, again. 

Of course, Archbishop Myers, who was Father Fugee’s supervisor the first time he sexually abused children, needed to promise that he wouldn’t do it again, too. That fixed it. No problems now.

Tra-la-la-la.

When the Archbishop got caught recently, breaking his promise, well, all we needed was for him to explain that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Which he did. He sent a letter to the priests in his archdiocese, explaining to them that he had not violated the rules he helped write to govern bishops concerning how they handle child sex abusers. 

Tra-la-la-la.

When ignorant people who don’t understand continued their outrage, it was time to drain the boil. Father Fugee resigned and the Archbishop accepted his resignation. 

Archbishop myers

I think — not know, think — Father Fugee agreed to exit stage left and Archbishop Myers “promptly” accepted his resignation because the two of them talked it over and decided it was the best way to save the Archbishop’s bacon.

The rest of us, of course, are expected to wipe our brows, go whew! I’m glad that’s over. And fergitaboutit. 

According to a nj.com article, Father Fugee “submitted his request to leave ministry,” and “Archbishop Myers promptly accepted the resignation.” I hate feeling this way about one of the bishops of the Church, but that sounds like one fine case of professional courtesy to me. 

Tra-la-la-la. 

Again, I hate saying things like this about a bishop of the Church, but when I have to choose between the bishop and following Jesus, the bishop loses. According to another nj.com article, Archbishop Myers has a history of things like this. 

From nj.com:

Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests.

 In other cases:

 - In 2004, the Newark Archdiocese wrote letters to six dioceses in Florida on behalf of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, one week after learning Gorak’s ministry had been terminated in the Orlando Diocese — after he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home.

- Also in 2004, the archdiocese banned the Rev. Gerald Ruane from public ministry after investigating an allegation he molested a boy, but did not publicly notify lay people or other priests. Ruane continued to say Mass and wear his collar in public.

- In 2007, the archdiocese failed to inform lay people that it found a molestation claim credible against the Rev. Daniel Medina, who had worked in parishes in Elizabeth and Jersey City. The case wasn’t made public until a victims group uncovered an alert sent by the archdiocese in September 2008 to other bishops saying Medina was on administrative leave and could not be located.

PROCEDURES FOLLOWED

Neither Myers nor the priests identified above would agree to an interview for this story. But Myers’ spokesman, James Goodness, said the archbishop has lived up to his promises of 2002 and that the archdiocese has carefully followed procedures meant to bar abusive priests from ministry. He said it has trained thousands of church employees to spot molestation, published procedures for filing sex accusations against priests and passed annual audits examining whether it keeps its promises. He noted, too, that the archdiocese has an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office to forward all allegations of sexual misconduct to county prosecutors.

“We do not have priests in ministry without proper supervision, and those who have had credible allegations have been removed from ministry,” Goodness said. “We do notify the communities where people (priests) have served of the existence of allegations and the results of all our inquiries.

“We believe we are living both within the letter and the spirit of the charter,” he said.

One thing that troubles me is all this debate about whether or not Archbishop Myers followed the guidelines the bishops set up in Dallas. I don’t care if he followed those guidelines or not.

  1. He deliberately, with full knowledge of what he was doing, put innocent children in harm’s way.
  2. He violated the trust of every Catholic on this planet that our bishops will follow Jesus and shepherd us in the Way.
  3. He knew what he was doing
  4. When he got caught, he wrote a letter explaining how he hadn’t done anything wrong by putting a convicted child molester back with kids. He based this on a set of guidelines that he helped write. 

Let’s get off the guidelines and take a look at the Gospels of Christ. This man did not follow Jesus. He did not do his job of caring for the welfare of the people that the Lord God has entrusted to him. 

Father Fugee resigned and Archbishop Myers promptly accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la????

Does that make it all better?

Not for me, it doesn’t. Archbishops Myers refuses to even promise that he won’t do it again. In fact, he tells us he didn’t do it in the first place. 

To top it off, if that nj.com article is accurate, he has a history of doing things like this. I repeat a question I said yesterday: Has he ever heard of Jesus Christ? 

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New Jersey Archbishop Strains out Gnat of Legalities, Swallows Camel of Child Sex Abuse

“Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

Minnesota030

I support the bishops.

How many times, over how many issues, have I said that?

I support them whenever and however they teach and preach the Gospel of Christ. I support them in their battles against secularism and the social dissolution around us. I support them in their efforts to evangelize this great Church and inspire the people of God to stand up and speak out for Jesus.

I support the bishops.

Except when I don’t. 

When a bishop stops preaching Christ and Him crucified and starts parsing legalities in order to get around rules he wrote himself and which he gave us his word he would keep, I take a look at him. When a bishop does this in order to excuse another violation of the promises to stop endangering children by placing them in the care of priests who are known child abusers, I don’t follow him.

A case in point is Archbishop Myers of New Jersey. Archbishop Myers has evidently placed a priest who is a convicted child abuser in a position where he will be in extensive contact with children.

Let me repeat that: Archbishop Myers put a convicted child abuser in ministry to children. 

Of course, as usual, the Archbishop is not the only bad guy involved here. Father Michael Fugee confessed to “fondling a 14-year-old boy’s genitals.” In the course of his confession, he evidently also said that he was a homosexual. Three years after his conviction, an appellate court vacated his conviction because the trial judge had allowed the jury to hear the part of the confession in which he said he was a homosexual.

I don’t know the legal hat they hung this on, but I do know that whatever basis it was sounds very much like political correctness run amok once again. I would guess that the assumption was that his admission of homosexuality was somehow regarded as too prejudicial for a jury to hear. The confession of child sexual abuse? Not so much.

So.

We have a confessed, convicted child abuser that the courts turn lose. Rather than go through another trial, the prosecutor’s office decided that what Father Fugee really needed was some of that counseling for sex offenders that has been shown to work so well at changing these guys.

The prosecutor basically did what we’ve condemned the bishops for doing. They gave a child abuser useless counseling, then put him back in the situation where he could do it again. The sop to public safety was that they made Father Fugee sign a piece of paper saying he wouldn’t do it again. More specifically, he signed a paper saying he would stay away from children, and Archbishop Myers signed it, too.

Let’s think this through. We have a court that vacates a judgement because the jury also heard that the confessed and convicted child abuser said he was a homosexual. Then, we have a prosecutor who follows in the footsteps of bad bishops and decides that what this guy really needs is some counseling and to make a promise that he won’t do it again.

Archbishop myers

Archbishop Myers, not to be outdone in this chain of abuse of the public trust and disregard for the welfare of children, follows through by putting said child abusing priest back where he’s with children, once again. As if that’s not enough, we also have a couple of people at the parish level who know all about Father Fugee’s conviction and go along with placing him with children.

Is there anyone involved in this situation who hasn’t violated the public’s trust? 

It is so tiresome to keep hearing about abuse of the system that is so egregious that we end up more disgusted with the public and Church officials who should have done something and didn’t than we are with the actual child abuser.

Everybody involved needs to lose their job. From Father Fugee on up the food chain to the appellate court justice, they all need to go into a line of work where they are not responsible for other people’s lives. I’m including Archbishop Myers in this, as well.

I haven’t read the fine print, but I honestly thought that the bishops gave us their word that they’d stop this nonsense of putting child molesting priests back with children so they could do it again. I thought they promised us they’d stop doing this. I also thought they meant it.

I think just about every bishop out there did mean it. But it’s becoming obvious that at least a couple of them made these promises with their fingers crossed behind their backs. 

Archbishop Myer sent an it-all-depends-on-what-the-definition-of-is-is letter to his priests in which he explains, basically, that he’s done nothing wrong. His reasoning is all about the finest of fine points in the Charter for the Protection of Children, a document he says that he helped write. He says that claims that he violated this Charter are “baseless.”

I wonder, has this guy ever heard of Jesus Christ?

Has he ever once thought about the Gospels he proclaims?

What does he think that shepherd’s crook he carries means?

I think that Archbishop Myers has broken the real Charter, and that’s the charter of trust with the Catholic people of the world. Notice, I did not say the Catholic people of his archdiocese. I did not say the trust of the children he allowed this priest to be near.

He violated my trust. And yours. And the trust of every person on this planet who follows the Church with the belief that it will lead us in the narrow way of Christ.

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Whatever the fine points of this Charter that the Archbishop helped write himself to govern himself, he has violated both the letter and the spirit of the Gospels he proclaims. Jesus said, “Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

What part of that contract doesn’t the Archbishop understand?

Archbishop Myer’s letter:

Arch myers letter

Arch myers letter page 2

 

From NJ.com:

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Fr Fugee with two boys during pilgrimage to Canada in 2010. Facebook photo

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.

The bishop of Paterson, Arthur Serratelli, has likewise said Fugee was on a retreat at Lake Hopatcong without permission.

For the first time in his many years as an advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse, Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on the archbishop to resign, characterizing Fugee as the latest in a string of problem priests shielded by Myers.

“The archbishop continues to insist it’s fine for Fugee to work with children. It’s a very dangerous message,” Crawford said.

The Church, Same Sex Marriage and Biased Reporting

Archbishop Myers in a photo from Archdiocese web page.

Archbishop John J Meyers, of the Archdiocese of Newark, went out on a limb and made a statement Tuesday supporting the Church’s 2,000 year-old teaching on marriage. The resulting news article by NorthJersey.com is one of the finest examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion I’ve seen today.

Not, notice, that I’ve seen in my lifetime, or even this week. Examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion aimed at discrediting the Church’s stand in favor of traditional Christian morality are so commonplace that I can only say that this article is the most egregious I’ve seen today. So far. I reserve the right to come back later today with something worse.

The article leads with a few paragraphs describing the Archbishop’s statement, including the fact the he dropped the c bomb (“Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should ‘refrain from receiving Holy Communion.’”) Then it moves on to all sorts of saber rattling quotes from various secularists expressing their concern about the evils of Catholics Who Preach Politics From the Pulpit.

As usual for journalism of this type, the article tries to imply that a Bishop of the Catholic Church who issues a pastoral letter that explains Church teaching is violating the law. It creates this implication by quoting carefully selected people who can be counted on to say the right things.

When the reporter asks the head of an organization that is well known for opposing Church teaching if the bishop “crossed the line” with his letter, they can be sure they’ll get a quote that verges on condemnation to use in the story. That’s what happened here. Everyone the article quotes allows as how Bishop Myers did not, in fact, “cross the line” but they qualify this with ponderous statements implying that he’s awwwwfulllllyyyyy close to doing it.

The dubious reporting is topped off with an unflattering photo of Bishop Myers; one of those mouth-open, eyes-half-closed snaps that happens to everyone. After my years in public office, I’ve got some ghastly photos of me floating around out there. Not that I’m any beauty. But I can tell you from experience that a skilled news photographer can make you look any way they want.

This tactic of eliciting attack quotes by interviewing people you know will give them to you and then illustrating the story with a photo that makes your prey look daffy or drunk is pretty standard stuff. That’s why I’m going to reproduce part of this article here and link to it. This post is a lesson in spotting anti-Catholic propaganda. The comments section of the article demonstrates the effect this kind of propaganda has on people.

If you agree with Bishop Myers, you might drop him a line at the Archdiocese of Newark, 171 Clifton Ave, Newark, NJ 07104. I’m sure he’s getting plenty of the other kind of letter.

Here, for your edification, is the article. It says in part:

Newark archbishop urges voters to defend marriage, life

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012, 6:41 AM
BY ABBOTT KOLOFF
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD
PRINT | E-MAIL
In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote “in defense of marriage and life,” and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.

CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Archbishop John Myers of the Diocese of Newark
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the statement on gay marriage was not timed to coincide with the November election, now little more than a month away, and that he was not calling on Catholics to vote for a particular candidate. But he said they should examine the “full spectrum” of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and “a proper backing of marriage.”

He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.

“It’s not 100 percent for either party,” Myers said in an interview Monday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. “The basic point is that we must defend what we believe to be the truth. That includes voting, speaking out, contacting officials.”

The statement is being issued amid a politically charged atmosphere at a time when some other Catholic leaders have been criticized for talking politics from the pulpit. President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in May. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, opposes it. (Read more here.)


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