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Another Bishop Hits the News

This time in Newark, NJ. The bishop is Archbishop John Myers, and the offending priest is Michael Fugee, who admitted groping a 14 year-old boy 12 years ago. (He later recanted his confession, saying that he'd only confessed so he could go home sooner.) He was tried and convicted, but the conviction overturned on appeal based on inappropriate instructions to the jury. The appellate ruling did not question the validity of the confession. According to the NJ Star-Ledger, rather than re-try the case,

the prosecutors office allowed him to enter pre-trial intervention, a rehabilitation program for first offenders. At the same time, the prosecutors office secured an agreement that Fugee undergo counseling for sex offenders and have no unsupervised contact with children as long as he is a priest.

I infer that Fugee's agreeing to this condition means that he, in effect, recants his recantation. Otherwise, it would be a serious infringement on his ministry. A later effort to have his record expunged was denied on grounds of public safety. Subsequently, Fugee has been assigned to significant posts in the Archdiocese. His latest post is co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. On the face of it, this is a good resolution. After all, this job would not seem to bring him into contact with children, which is the terms of his deal with legal authorities. Alas, not so. Archbishop John Myers also permits him to say Mass in various parishes around the diocese, and in 2009 he appointed him to a position as a hospital chaplain. At least in the case of one of the parishes and the hospital chaplaincy, no one was told of the terms of Fugee's ministry. Noting other cases in which Myers has shown excessive leniency to sex offending priests, the NJ Star-Ledger has called for Myers to resign. Concerning Fugee, the editorial board states:

Fugee was not to work in any position involving children, or have any affiliation with youth groups. He could not attend youth retreats, or even hear the confessions of children. With the full knowledge and approval of Myers, Fugee did all of those things. Look at the picture of him clowning around with children in todays paper, and it makes you want to scream a warning. The agreement was designed to prevent exactly that.

Details of Myers' handling of other accused priests may be found here.Fugee's is a hard case, and partly done right. His day job does not involve kids. The problem is two-fold:1. the failure to advise parish and hospital authorities of limitations on his ministry.2. More significant, however, is that this seems to be in clear violation of the Dallas Charter, under the terms of its zero tolerance policy, viz:

When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants (SST, Art. 6; CIC, c. 1395 2; CCEO, c. 1453 1).

The following norm states

At all times, the diocesan bishop/eparch has the executive power of governance, within the parameters of the universal law of the Church, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric from office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of priestly ministry. Because sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric is a crime in the universal law of the Church (CIC, c. 1395 2; CCEO, c. 1453 1) and is a crime in all civil jurisdictions in the United States, for the sake of the common good and observing the provisions of canon law, the diocesan bishop/eparch shall exercise this power of governance to ensure that any priest or deacon who has committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor as described above shall not continue in active ministry.

It could be argued that the zero tolerance policy is unjust, in that (among other things,) it does not take adequate account of relevant differences between KINDS of abuse. People who abuse young children (true pedophiles) are persistently dangerous, and arguably the one-strike policy is prudent for them. People like Fugee, abusers of teens, are more amenable to therapy. I do not know whether Fugee has responded to therapy to such a degree that allowing him access to children is safe. Even so, allowing him into ministry with kids violates the charter as well as the agreement with civil authorities.The failure to warn the parish or hospital authorities about him is only implicitly addressed by the Charter. After all, the presumption is that abusers are removed from ministry, so there's nothing about situations in which they are not. However, the Charter does state:

Dioceses/eparchies are to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved. This is especially so with regard to informing parish and other church communities directly affected by the sexual abuse of a minor.

I do not know what will ensue from Myers' allowing Fugee to violate the terms of his agreement. It is hard to reconcile his behavior with his own account of how he promised to deal with such cases. This from his 2004 letter to the diocese:

From our initial policies in the mid 1980s, to more formal policies, to our participation in drafting and implementing a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding with the New Jersey Attorney General and county prosecutors, we are committed to obeying all current and future laws dealing with sexual abuse. We are also committed to pursuing all appropriate options available under the law of the Church to assure that those who offend never return to ministry.

Even if he believes Fugee's recantation of his confession, and even if he thinks the legal agreement restricting Fugee's ministry is unnecessary, he has failed to cooperate with law enforcement on this one. And, sadly, I suspect that the fallout from Myers' violation of the Dallas Charter will be pretty much like that of other bishops who have violated it. Nothing much.

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The bigger they think they are, the harder we know they will fall.And I'm referring to Myers. He is as good as anyone for the pope to make an example of and remove him from his job.We shall see ... but as Lisa said: I suspect that the fallout from Myers violation of the Dallas Charter will be pretty much like that of other bishops who have violated it. Nothing much. It would be nice to be proven wrong on this one, however.________________________________________

Lisa - this was posted by Richard Sipe in 2011....most of this is old history:http://www.richardsipe.com/diocesan_profiles/diocese_of_newark.htmAs you can see, Myers has had substantial numbers of cases to educate himself about abusive priests; manipulation; games they play, etc. In none of the case descriptions do you ever see Myers mention child safety; victims; etc.Posted four years ago:On October 22, 2009 the following letter was posted on the National Survivor Advocates Coalition News: "Parishioners of the Archdiocese of Newark are getting a clear picture of how Archbishop John Myers operates. His latest dangerous attempt to put a sexual molester back into ministry -the Rev. Michael Fugee at St. Michael's Hospital, Newark - is indicative of Myer's callous, ruthless and arrogant disregard for the safety of children, the vulnerable, civil and canon law, and socially accepted moral principles. Myers should have petitioned the Vatican to defrock Fugee many years ago when it was determined by a jury in Bergen County he had sexually abused a minor. There are still many Newark Archdiocesan priests who have abused minors, young adults, and the vulnerable and still function as priests, but I, a survivor of abuse and advocate for the abused, cannot exercise my priestly ministry because I have reported Myers and others for their outrageous behavior. It is time for Catholics to call for Myers' resignation, as I have done repeatedly, before more tragic events occur. The Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Founder and President, Road to Recovery" And, unfortunantly, following in McCarrick's footsteps (and misadventures) only makes the Newark Archdiocesan situation even more serious.

Consequences for Bishop Myers? Surely, you must be joking.We haven't seen much in terms of US Catholic Church LEADERSHIP since this scandal first broke in Boston in 2002 and CONSEQUENCES for that same group are, in fact, non-existent.Truth be told, you can't have one without the other and, given the track record of the past ten years or so, US Catholics should not look for either Leadership or Consequences from that group for some time to come.Michael SkiendzielewskiPhiladelphia, PA

A bishop just fired a Catholic teacher after 17 years because he received an anonymous letter that the anonymous person was able to discern that the teacher by reading an obit of the teacher's mother that this teacher had a partner. Proof enough for this bishop. Forget the courts and the law, the anonymous 'outing' does the trick in this hierarchal dominated Church. So why not have the well informed say to the church...'' So we'll give you outing if that's the game you want to play'http://www.examiner.com/article/teacher-fired-at-catholic-high-school-fo..."

The sickest part of all this is that the teacher, who was never accused of harming a child in any way, was fired, but the priests keep their jobs.I simply do not understand how the American bishops can remain silent when they see their brother bishops continuing to up for criminal priests. Who formed their consciences?

Oops -- continuing to cover up...

Did I read that right? Fugee said that he'd only confessed so he could go home sooner? That's what a third-grader might say after stealing a classmate's apple."Who formed their consciences?"Ann O. "His [Fugee's] latest post is co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests."I'm beginning to understand.

It will be interesting to see how pope Francis will react. Because of his interest in collegiality, he might signal to the USCCB that they ought to take a position on the matter and that he will follow their advice. That would partially let him off the hook while forcing US bishops to face their responsibilities in implementing or in refining the charter that they themselves voted.Because of his relative disdain for the letter of the law, he might less sensitive to faults consisting of violations of a charter and such lawyer-like episcopal problems, and more sensitive to the actual specifics of the case. In the present case: what ought to have been done?His early signals on what attitude he would take:http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/04/05/pope-francis-sex-abu...

I continue to wonder just how much relevant information gets to the popes from the curial bureaucrats. I dare say that JP II wasn't told the whole lurid story of Maciel, not until Ratzinger insisted on telling him, I'll bet. You can say that the popes meet every 5 years with the bishops, but have you noticed the seating arrangements at those "meetings" of many bishops with one pope? They are held in huge halls with the bishops seated at the edges of the room mostly facing each other across a wide expanse, with the pope alone at one end and a few other bishops far away at the other end of the hall facing him. What sort of conversation can be had in a set-up like that? You'd have to talk extremely loud to be heard from most positions,and the pope probably can't even see the expressions on the faces of the bishops. Everything seems designed to keep the pope ignorant.

We know a lot of things about addicts. We know they believe themselves to be above rules and the law. We know they compartmentalize their lives to avoid the crush of shame. We know that they groom supporters as well as victims. Bishops should know these things. The commonality between the Carla Hale and Michael Fugee cases seems obvious. Some bishops are deeply susceptible to manipulation. Anonymous letters. Sex predators in the clergy. Money, power, and especially more power.What about Archbishop Myers? He comes across as arrogant or a dupe. Maybe he's both. The spokesperson said the archbishop interpreted the court order as permitting supervised contact with minors. That doesn't appear to be in the legal document. This looks very bad for the Newark Archdiocese.

@ Bill: Indeed, the events aren't new, (and the Star-Ledger has been following the case for years,) though the paper's editorial calling for Myers' resignation is from today's paper. Here's an updated article also from today: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/with_approval_of_archbishop_pr..... Interesting in the update is that the Archbishop, through a representative, also signed the deal promising that Fugee wouldn't work with kids. Photos of Fugee with kids accompany the piece. Also, bishops from two other dioceses make clear that Fugee worked in their jurisdictions without permission.One of the things that puzzles me in cases like this is why bishops of dioceses who have been sent priests like Fugee aren't loudly, publicly and clearly p.o.'d, if for not other reason than the legal vulnerability this creates for them if the priest abuses on their turf. If they won't shout when a bishop flouts the Dallas Charter, maybe they will if it might cost them some cash? And of course we know from l'affaire Finn that merely being convicted of the crime of not reporting a molester doesn't threaten one's status as bishop.

"The spokesperson said the archbishop interpreted the court order as permitting supervised contact with minors. "I don't believe it for a minute. Lawyers have to convey court orders to all sorts of people, some don't know English very well, some are slow to understand, some are uneducated.They make sure their orders are interpreted correctly. The difference between "no contact" and "no unsupervised contact" is basic, and it is not believable that communication was ambiguous in that respect. The spokesperson's story is obviously a lie. (Right, you lawyers out there?)What I don't know is whether he truly thinks we're idiots, or if he doesn't care as long as he is setting up a narrative against possible legal consequences. It sounds like the start of the usual, despicable spin. I feel like saying, like the queen of hearts: "Off with their heads!"

@ Claire, 10:28 p.m., thanks for the interesting link. I wonder, though, if what Francis means is that all bishops conferences should have documents like the Dallas Charter? If so, given the DC's track record, not much cause for optimism there. Istm that only the Pope could call an archbishop on the carpet and have it mean anything.

Perhaps this is where the group of 8 cardinal advisors comes in to advise on the specifics of the local situation. What does Cardinal O'Malley think of all this?

Francis has made it clear that he will continue the policy of Benedict.

It would be interesting to see if Ab. Meyers has kept Fugee out of Bergen county; it was the Bergen county prosecutors with whom the agreement was signed.

Fr O'Leary: yes, but does he mean it? This is where the rubber hits the road.

Lisa - an outstanding post. Bravo for pointing out the Charter violations. A couple of points of interest in the Star-Ledger article:"In 2003, a jury in Bergen County convicted him of the sexual contact count but acquitted him of the endangering charge."Could one of our legal experts comment on the relative seriousness of these two charges?Regarding why the conviction was overturned: "Three years later, an appellate panel overturned the verdict on the grounds that the trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors. The decision was based, in part, on the judges decision to let the jury hear the portion of Fugees statement in which he described himself as bisexual or homosexual. The appellate court said the admission could have led jurors to find Fugee guilty because of the unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia. The rest of the confession was not called into question."This, in conjunction with the prosecutors' decision not to retry the case, suggests that they must have viewed another conviction as less than a slam dunk? I mention this because, if I understand the legal saga correctly, to this day, Fugee doesn't have a criminal conviction on his record - is that true? I.e. keeping his record clean may be a reason he agreed to enter the treatment program?And finally, as succinct an illustration of Missing The Point as we're ever likely to see: "Fugee continues to celebrate Mass daily at parishes across the archdiocese which includes Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union counties but Goodness declined to identify specific churches."What?!! "... declined to identify specific churches"?!! That may be the most outrageous thing in the entire article.

"Is it your recollection," the plaintiffs attorney, Jessica Arbour, asked [Archbishop] Myers, "that he (Fugee) admitted that he touched the boy?""Unfortunately, without his lawyer present, he did," Myers said.

Regarding the Dallas Charter: while I haven't read every single link presented in the post and in the comments, a missing piece seems to be the diocesan review board. For the sanctions in the Charter to be applied, I'd think that Fugee's case would need to be processed by the review board. Did this ever happen? What was the result? What recommendations were made to Myers? And what did Myers do in response?

Honestly, I think Pope Francis needs to do what a new President or Prime Minister would do...ask for the resignations of every bishop, archbishop and cardinal in the country, then go through and accept a good many of them. The only other alternative is to have a couple of these people prosecuted and convicted and sentenced to prison. Obviously there is a total disregard for protection of children among many in the hierarchy still. We've seen it in Kansas City, now Newark. Until someone higher up the "chain of command" loses his job or his freedom over this, or I don't imagine some bishops will get it.

Joseph O'Leary - if Francis continues the policies of Benedict then neither this bishop nor any other will be held accountable for protecting sexual molesters and enabling the crimes they commit. Jim Dunn has it right - and if Francis fails to change the church's policies regarding bishop accountability then the people who are the church need to get up the gumption to take action themselves.I ask again, as I have many times of many Catholics (usually answered with silence): Why do the Catholics in the pews - who are the source of the money to the hierarchy - continue to enable bishops who should be resigning by just handing over their wallets? Pope Benedict never did a single thing to stop bishops from enabling pedophiles - it was all empty words. If it's literally true that Francis will continue to do as Benedict did, then he also will not turn on his "brother bishops" even at the expense of innocent children. Let's pray that he will NOT follow Benedict's example.But if he does, the only way to force these bishops-without-a-moral-sense to give up their offices of power is to dry up the funds they need to operate. Those who hand over their money to bishops without demanding the development of policies that ensure enforceable accountability might think about whether or not they too are enablers. Those who no longer wish to enable the bishops who protect child molesters may want to think about how they support the church in ways other than money - time and talent might be the moral limits of what they can offer - until their money is no longer used to support a hierarchy that enables child rape and molestation. Send the money DIRECTLY to those doing Jesus's work on earth - directly to those who run food kitchens and free clinics and shelters for abused women and children etc....... There is no shortage of groups who do God's work and when you send the check directly to them, the bishop cannot skim off whatever portion of the donation he thinks he needs. At the parish level, volunteer to take on some tasks that the parish now pays others to do when possible (gardening tasks, small repairs etc) and perhaps set up a 501(c) non-profit for weekly donations. This money could then be used to directly pay the expenses of the parish, from the electric bill to staff salaries if need be. It could be done if the people in the pews really cared ENOUGH about this ongoing sin of hierarchical enabling of child sex abuse to refuse to continue to be part of it.

"Because of his interest in collegiality, he might signal to the USCCB that they ought to take a position on the matter and that he will follow their advice. That would partially let him off the hook while forcing US bishops to face their responsibilities in implementing or in refining the charter that they themselves voted."The USCCB could quite reasonably reply that the Charter is its position. The national conference has no teeth to enforce it - if a bishop won't abide by the charter, only the Holy See has the authority to insist on it.

Anne C says: "Those who hand over their money to bishops without demanding the development of policies that ensure enforceable accountability might think about whether or not they too are enablers."Amen. The church is governed as an autocracy, which only works if the bishops are given free reign. You can't have a functioning autocracy if review boards can trump the power of the bishops. Right now, according to the Dallas Charter, they can't. They can only "advise." You can't have a working autocracy if the USCCB can trump the power of the bishops. Right now, it can't. And if you're a bishop in an autocratic system, criticizing another bishop also compromises your own autocratic power. Autocracy cannot coexist with accountability and transparency. Situations such as this will continue to happen until the system of governance changes, and it won't change until the people in the pews think up alternative means of funding the good works besides sending the cash through their diocese.

Lisa - good point about cross diocesan transfers and the lack of transparency. Who knows - reasons:- continues to be an episcopal culture in which bishops don't question each other even when it costs money; harms children; etc . (as some say - it makes bishops appear to be a version of the omerta)- continue to believe that priests can be easily forgiven (cheap grace) and go back to work (confuse forgiveness with criminal requirements in terms of supervision; restrictions; paying society back and an abuse of the sacrament of reconciliation - they leave out the communal aspect and the need to do repentance) (as some say - just continued clericalism)- is this because of the lack of priests so bishops, who are desperate for manpower) are quick to rationalize (you note the diocese of Jefferson City, MO led by Gaydos....do some research on Gaydos and this diocese's minor seminary.....the abuse damage was significant and yet Gaydos has yet to heal or correct the damage (he served as MC for a couple of powerful STL archbishops/cardinals - how the clerical culture takes care of their own)- then, you have those bishops who just don't understand abusers e.g. current case goes to court in Amarillo,TX this week involving a priest from CA who went through the NM Paraclete facility and Bishop Mathiessen welcomed him to his diocese (just one of many that Leroy did this with). And Leroy knew his history but felt that all should be given a second chance; and, of course, Leroy needed priests in his huge diocese)Lisa - one thing does create questions for me. Since the late 1990s, insurance companies for catholic dioceses have changed, tightened up, and, in some cases, dropped all coverage of abuse. Given this, you would think that insurance companies would be yelling - yet, all conversations are behind closed doors. My only thought - until the Dallas Charter (and the church) insist that bishops be treated the same as priests (thus, a few bishops go to jail) there will continue to be more Myers or Gaydos, Finn, etc. (just think about Mahony's tweet accounts rationalizing his behaviors)

"- is this because of the lack of priests"I've long thought this is an important aspect of why these guys with sullied records continue to be circulated.

From one of the Star-Ledger stories: "Then late last year, Myers named Fugee co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, igniting a new firestorm. Goodness likens the post to a pencil-pushing job in which Fugee simply alerts other priests to seminars and educational opportunities. Advocates for clergy sex abuse victims call it a far more influential position, with responsibility for the molding of priests."Both camps are in spin-o-rama mode here. I'd think that role is to coordinate education seminars around the diocese, and that it wouldn't involve coming into contact with kids as part of the job. If this guy is to remain in active ministry, it sounds to me like it might be the right sort of desk-jockey position that allows him to be under someone's eye and away from kids. But why should he remain in active ministry at all?

From the same Star-Ledger piece: "Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for Trenton Bishop David M. OConnell, likewise said Fugees work with St. Marys took place without the dioceses knowledge or permission. "Upon learning of this, the diocese has addressed this matter with the parish and reached out to the archdiocese," Bennett said in a statement. "The Archdiocese has reported that Father Fugee is a priest in good standing and free to minister in another diocese.""Once again, the yawning gap: how is it that he is in good standing? Has the archdiocesan review board reviewed the incident for which he was originally convicted? What was the outcome, what was recommended to the archbishop, and what was the archbishop's disposition?

One would like to think that both of the other bishops read the riot act to Archbishop Meyers. Jim Pauwels, I agree that both sides are in spin mode, and likely the job assigned to Fr. Fugee is exactly as you describe it. The problem is that Archbishop Meyers, by allowing Fugee to ignore/bend other rules, opened this one to question. Most likely nobody even knew that a co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests existed. What does it involve? Are there situations where he comes in contact with children and teens? I'm guessing it is more likely someone who schedules conferences and meetings for priests on various issues. But i don't really know.

What role does the Apostolic Delegate have in any of this? I haven't heard of him in a long time...

A while back, Grant posted (http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=11253) about an open letter on the need for the revelation of truth concerning the priest sexual abuse scandal. The letter was written by the then vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Fr. James Connell. Grant called it a remarkable document, one that deserves to be read by Catholics lay and ordained alike. I dont recall ever seeing, on this blog, as much praise for someone as was lavished on Fr. Connell by a wide range of readers in their comments on the thread.Now Fr. Connell, a canon lawyer, has written to Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The following are excerpts from the letter:

I request that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) investigate within a Church penal process Archbishop John Myers handling of the matter concerning the Reverend Michael Fugee. . . . Archbishop Mller, in light of the information contained in . . . two key documents [Fr. Fugees confession to the police, and a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Fr. Fugee, his attorney, and the vicar general of the archdiocese], the declarations made in the [Newark Star Ledger] article compel me to bring this matter to your attention. Indeed, I do so recognizing my responsibility as presented in canon 212, 3 of the Code of Canon Law. My concern regards Archbishop Myers compliance with Church law as presented in the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, which stands as particular law for the dioceses and eparchies that comprise the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, having been established as such by the Congregation for Bishops. Here is link to the Essential Norms http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload... Two Norms focus my concern.Norm 6 of the Essential Norms (thus, Church law) establishes: When there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith shall be notified. This requirement of Norm 6 mirrors the Vatican requirement If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF stated in a Circular Letter to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clerics, dated May 3, 2011. Here is the link to that Circular Letter http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_... Norm 8 of the Essential Norms (thus, Church law) establishes: When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from the ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants. Hence, I present to you three questions: (1) Is there sufficient evidence to require that a case of sexual abuse of a minor against Fr. Fugee be presented to the CDF as required by Norm 6 of the Essential Norms and by Vatican requirements, so that the CDF can put into motion procedures to determine if Fr. Fugee should be removed permanently from ministry as required by Norm 8 of the Essential Norms? (2) If yes, did Archbishop Myers comply with Norm 6 of the Essential Norms and the Vatican requirements by reporting this case to the CDF? (3) If Archbishop Myers did not report this case to the CDF as required by church law, should Archbishop Myer be required to explain himself within a Church penal process?

In his letter to Archbishop Mller, Fr. Connell provided links for what he described as the two key documents:1. Here is the link to [Fr. Fugees] confession; especially see pages 6, 8, and 9 https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/561652-fugee-police-statement.html2. This Memorandum [of Understanding] documents an agreement to be followed by Fr. Fugee and the Archdiocese of Newark rather than for Fr. Fugee to face prosecution by the Bergen County. The Memorandum also contains a history of the case. Here is the link to the Memorandum https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/528129-fugee-agreement-with-pros...

I find it both frustrating and troubling that bishops seems to not understand the damage they are doing to the Church. It has to be that they don't understand it, because otherwise they are intentionally doing damage. I even understood, to an extent, the likes of Cardinal Law and some leadership caught up in the early years of this scandal. They were pretty much just following the prescribed procedure which had been in place for decades or longer. And it was something they didn't want to deal with, so it was the easiest path. I think they were wrong in both their thinking and actions, but I can understand at least their motivation. But now, after a decade of this, how any bishop, archbishop or cardinal can continue to ignore these things is just beyond my ability to understand. And how the leadership in Rome can ignore it as they have for a decade is equally frustrating and troubling. Do these people ever talk to anyone outside the curia or other bishops? sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I just don't get it! Pope Francis needs to remove a few bishops. He should start with Kansas City, move to Newark, and finish up with Linclon Nebraska.

Anne O: I had read somewhere (I think) but can't find any validation that Francis tends to seat the bishops in a circle and after the meeting greets each on independently. Maybe he is doing a bit more to facilitate openness and egalitarianism. Circular seating sends a different message from the arrangements that you described above.I'm feeling quite positive on this beautiful Monday in the Bay Area.

Jim Dunn:Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE refused to even sign on to the Dallas Charter. ** Now one of his proteges (Michael Jackels) has been assigned to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, IA.This doesn't bode well for an immediate willingness to send messages thoughout the episcopacy when it comes to adherence to the Dallas Charter. ** Bruskewitz is willing to express himself forcefully and is occasionally at odds with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For example, he rejected an audit by the Conference's National Review Board of his plans to implement national guidelines on sex-abuse programs, making reference to both the Review Board and the former president of Pace University: "Some woman named Patricia O'Donnell Ewers, who is the chair of something called 'A National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People,' has said that her board 'calls for strong fraternal correction of the Diocese of Lincoln.' The Diocese of Lincoln has nothing to be corrected for, since the Diocese of Lincoln is and has always been in full compliance with all laws of the Catholic Church and with all civil laws...The Diocese of Lincoln does not see any reason for the existence of Ewers and her organization." ("Bishop Bruskewitz shoots back at National Review Board", Catholic World News, April 2, 2006.)

More examples of 'no one is better than the worst act they have ever committed'.And Lisa, your very first quote from the Star-Ledger contains this description of the settlement terms: have no unsupervised contact.

Apropos Gene Palumbo's important comment, a couple of facts, and apropos of nothing, a factoid, about Archbishop Myers, from his Wikipedia page:"His education for the priesthood and as a priest included study in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University while attending seminary at the North American College, where he received the S.T.L., or licentiate (post-master's certification) in sacred theology, and a doctorate in church law, the J.C.D. ... Myers is active in the Canon Law Society of America, having worked with committees dealing with the Revised Code of Canon Law, diocesan fiscal officers, lay ministry, and diocesan governance, and served as a member of the CLSA Board of Governors. He helped present workshops on the revised Code of Canon Law for members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Myers also served as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts at the Holy See. ..."His hobby is writing and is the co-author with Gary K. Wolf of Space Vulture, a 1950s pulp sci-fi pastiche novel published by Tor Books in 2008."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Myers

Bruce ... two comparables:Youre as sick as your secrets. Mychal Judge, OFMA long face is not a moral disinfectant. C. S. Lewis

Many thanks to Gene Palumbo for his very important post updating us on this matter and linking us to some important documents. The agreement between Fugee, the Archdiocese and prosecutors is not drafted as clearly as it should have been. The Archdiocese will focus on the clause which bans "unsupervised contact with...any child or children under the age of 18". They will claim Fugee was always supervised. But focusing on the adjective "unsupervised" really misses the pretty clear intent of the agreement. The agreement also says Fugee will not "supervise or minister to any minor/child under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved." This clause is much broader and would certainly prohibit the parish work he has done and certainly the retreat he attended with the parish youth group in Canada. The Archdiocese will have a hard time saying their reading of the agreement led them to believe it would be OK for Fugee to be involved with a parish youth group and youth retreats. The agreement could not be clearer in that it mentions these two specific activities as prohibited. This caught my attention from the Star Ledger's reporting on the appellate reversal of the verdict in Fugee's case:"The decision was based, in part, on the judges decision to let the jury hear the portion of Fugees statement in which he described himself as bisexual or homosexual.The appellate court said the admission could have led jurors to find Fugee guilty because of the 'unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia'. It is somewhat ironic that the "unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia" is what led to this priest's verdict being overturned. The greatest source for promoting this unfounded association is the religious right -- including many Catholics like Bill Donahue of the Catholic League and Cardinal Bertone. Bill Donahue has been defending Fugee and Myers and playing his well-worn "anti-Catholic bias in the media" game with this story for months. But of course he is also famous for saying the child abuse crisis was "a homosexual crisis all along. The evidence is all on my side.

Jim P. ="First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". William ShakespeareHenry VI, Part 2, Act 4, Scene 2, 71-78

The good AB Myers is also a full-fledged Opus Dei fella.Money talks.Catholics must make its absence talk louder.Stop giving money to parish and hierarch.Stop enabling ecclesial and ecclesiastical dysfunction.

Ann - right :-). But in all seriousness, knowing that he has this canonical background does cast a certain light on the situation. Certainly he would be well-versed in the canonical obligations of the Charter. It seems to be he's steering a lawyerly course here, pushing both the canonical and civil laws to the hilt to keep this guy in ministry.Back to your comment: I can't help that think that the lawyerly course has not served the church well at all over the past dozen years. It is on advice from attorneys that church officials don't speak with the media and treat victims of adversaries. However much has been paid out by the church as a result of these scandals - $2 billion? - is in the wake of advice received from lawyers. I don't necessarily blame the attorneys for giving their best legal advice. But bishops need to weigh it with other considerations - like protecting children and helping victims to heal.

Jim - just because he got a *Roman degree* in canon law means nothing - even if it is a JCD. You assume way too much. In my day, we used to joke about a BS in Sociology - an easy way to get thru college....well, the same can be said for seminarians in Rome and canon law.He participates in the Canon Law Society - which, again, means what? I know some outstanding canon lawyers in the CLS but also some that haven't a clue. Too many use and apply canon law as black and white; rigid; and miss the principles or that it is only a pastoral tool - not a moral sledgehammer.Canon law is a tool and has so many different specialties, areas that require additional experience, etc. that he may or may not have the skills necessary. Bevilacqua had both a civil and canon law degrees and background - and, by documented proof, he admitted to using his knowledge and skills to manipulate SOLs and escape criminal charges for any of his abusive priests. Knowledge of law doesn't mean you can't misuse, manipulate, and avoid justice. And, to be honest, why do bishops knee jerk and lead with legal first - whatever happened to the gospel; to communicating with victims/families; mediation; and outreach? If the USCCB had any gospel courage, use of lawyers would be only a last resort and after all other methods had failed.BTW - in the US alone, payouts have easily passed $3 billion - who knows worldwide and we are just starting in Eastern Europe, Phillipines, Africa, South America, Mexico. Australia's current investigation will cost the church millions.

Bill - fwiw, the canonists I've worked with, the ones who pick up the phone when I need to call downtown with a question, who also happen to be priests, see it very much in the way you praise: as a pastoral tool, one deeply informed by love and mercy.

This story is disturbing: http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/philadelphia-lynn-sex-abuse-tri... want blood, not justice.

Superb post with links by Gene Palumbo at 04/29/2013 - 1:19 pm.Fr. James Connell, who wrote the CDF's Muller with chapter and verse on Myers/Fugee, is an outstanding priest and promoter of justice. He publicly stands with SNAP and was a featured speaker at the 10th anniversary VOTF conference last September. His detailed questions about the handling of Fugee's case merit answers from Rome. I seriously doubt he will ever get valid responses.The case of a prior bishop in Newark begs redress as well, namely Theodore McCarrick. Why is McCarrich still in office,

Sorry for computer glitch --- cont'd...The actions of a prior archbishop in Newark beg redress as well, namely Theodore McCarrick. Why is McCarrick still in office in view of documents made public by Richard Sipe? If inaction by the Vatican is the issue, here is another egregious outstanding case:Excerpts from the legal Settlement Documents include firsthand accounts that are also in the Newark Archdiocese records of an incident on a trip with McCarrick, then Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, with a seminarian and two young priests when they shared a room with two double beds, it reads:http://www.richardsipe.com/Comments/2008-04-21-McCarrick_Syndrome.htmlMc..., wearing just underwear, got into bed with one of the priests: Bishop McCarrick was sitting on the crotch of Fr. RC As I was watching TV with Fr BL [full names appear in the documents], bishop McCarrick was smiling and laughing and moving his hands all over Fr. RCs body. Bishop McCarrick was touching Fr. Cs body, rubbing his hands from head to toe and having a good time, occasionally placing his hands underneath Fr. Cs underwear. [I was] feeling very uncomfortable while trying to focus on television, and Fr. B.L., started smiling. As I looked at the bed next to me, Bishop McCarrick was excitedly caressing the full body of Fr. R.C. At that moment, I made eye contact [with] Bishop McCarrick. He smiled at me saying, Dont worry, youre next. At that moment, I felt the hand of Fr. B.L. rubbing my back and shoulders. I felt sick to my stomach and went under the covers and pretended to sleep.

More...On another occasion McCarrick summoned the young man to drive him from the Newark Cathedral to New York City. He took him to dinner; and after, rather than returning to Newark as anticipated McCarrick went to a one-room apartment that housed one bed and a recliner chair. McCarrick said that he would take the chair, but after showering he turned off the lights and clad in his underwear he climbed into bed with his guest. Here is the account from the documents: He put his arms around me and wrapped his legs around mine. Then He started to tell me what a nice young man I was and what a good priest I would make someday. He also told me about the hard work and stress he was facing in his new role as Archbishop of Newark. He told me how everyone knows him and how powerful he was. The Archbishop kept saying, Pray for your poor uncle. All of a sudden, I felt paralyzed. I didnt have my own car and there was nowhere to go. The Archbishop started to kiss me and move his hands and legs around me. I remained frozen, curled up like a ball. I felt his penis inside his underwear leaning against my buttocks as he was rubbing my legs up and down. His hands were moving up and down my chest and back, while tightening his legs around mine. I tried to scream but could notI was paralyzed with fear. As he continued touching me, I felt more afraid. He even tried several times to force his hands under my shorts. He tried to roll me over so that he could get on top of me, but I resisted, I felt sick and disgusted and finally was able to jump out of bed. I went into the bathroom where I vomited several times and started to cry. After twenty minutes in the bathroom, the Archbishop told me to come back to bed. Instead I went to the recliner and pretended to fall asleep.In a letter dated four days after this incident McCarrick wrote a note signed Uncle Ted that said in part: I just wanted to say thanks for coming on Friday evening. I really enjoyed our visit. Youre a great kid and I know the Lord will continue to bless youYour uncle has great spots to take you to!!!Maybe someday, someone will pay attention to these documents and act.

Corrections to my late night post at 04/30/2013 - 1:13 am:1) "The alleged actions...per the legal Settlement Documents...2) McCarrick is of course retired as cardinal archbishop of Washington, DC and no longer in that office.

Carolyn - had the same thoughts - given what recently went down with Cdl O'Brien in Scotland - McCarrick has gotten away with murder - how? yes, it was a different time when the initial allegations came forth but???JOL - Ralph Cipriano is a reporter and makes some excellent points about the two trials esp. Lynn and Avery. But here is another perspective:"As a prosecutor for the Michigan Attorney General's office for 22 years before retiring in 2001 and as a criminal defense counsel for an another 12 years, I am approaching Mr. Cipriano's post from the standpoint of an experienced criminal trial attorney. I do not know the extent of Mr. Cipriano's legal training as neither his NCR biography nor his biography on bigtrial.net indicates any legal experience. I do not doubt Mr. Cipriano's journalistic qualifications, his tale on this blog [called an "analysis"] would make an acceptable factual statement in an appellate court brief, provided it were properly formatted and documented from the record. However, I can not agree with his conclusion that a miscarriage of justice occurred. In my over 30 years of trial experience, I have learned that what the jury sees and hears from the jury box often leads them to conclusions that casual observers, such as Mr. Cipriano, would consider to be capricious or untenable. That is why the law in its wisdom requires the unanimous consent of 12 peers of the defendants before reaching a verdict of guilty under the applicable standards. Whether or not legal error occurred in the trials is not able to be determined on the basis of his disagreement with the facts as he presents them. While he alleges bias in the court and prosecutors, evidence of such bias should be presented to the appropriate appellate tribunal for decision based upon legal grounds.The complainant in the case against the good Monsignor is, according to Mr. Cipriano, a 24 year old male who has suffered from drug addiction for a substantial period and was apparently criminally assaulted on numerous occasions. Christian charity should provide every benefit of doubt to him. To do otherwise would be to treat him as shoddily as the woman caught in adultery by the authorities was when she was brought before Jesus. I assume that all readers of this comment are familiar with the outcome of that encounter. As the law requires, I would leave it to the jurors to determine the credibility of any and all of the witnesses.Just as a defendant should not be convicted in the press, neither should a complaining witness/ victim be convicted by the press. If the good Monsignor's conviction is affirmed by the state appellate court, then he should do the time. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one."

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About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).