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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.

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).

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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."

This is getting more interesting.Yesterday, at 1:19 pm, I posted excerpts from Fr. James Connells letter to CDF Prefect Gerhard Muller. Today, Connell sent Muller this follow-up letter: Dear Archbishop Mller, Yesterday I sent you an email letter regarding Archbishop John Myers of the Archdiocese of Newark (USA) and his handling of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Fr. Michael Fugee. I also sent a copy of that email letter to Archbishop Myers. Within a few hours yesterday, James Goodness, the Director of Communications and Public Relations of the Archdiocese of Newark, replied to me and his email is below. Please notice that the fourth paragraph of Mr. Goodness email reads: Archbishop Myers did send all information surrounding the allegation, including the court documents and the Review Board materials, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following the conclusion of the Archdiocesan Review Board's investigation. The Congregation subsequently, after a complete review of the materials, concurred that there was no sexual abuse and that Fr. Fugee could return to ministry. I have two questions. First, is it correct that Archbishop Myers sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) all the information regarding the Fr. Fugee allegation, including all of the court documents that I mentioned in my email to you yesterday (Fr. Fugees confession to the crime and the Memorandum of Understanding that stipulated requirements agreed to by Fr. Fugee and the Archdiocese of Newark in lieu of a court trial)? Second, is it correct as Mr. Goodness states that the CDF concurred that there was no sexual abuse and that Fr. Fugee could return to ministry? Archbishop Mller, a thorough and prompt explanation of this situation is needed. Thank you for your kind attention. Sincerely yours in Christ,Reverend James E. Connell, JCD

Gene, are Fr. Connell's emails/letters posted somewhere? I'd like to see the full text of Goodness' response to his first letter.

So if the answers to those two questions are "yes" and "yes", then Abp Myers appears to have been caught between conflicting assessment from the US Justice on the one hand and from the CDF on the other hand. What's a bishop to do in such a situation?Very interesting indeed.

At the end of his email to CDF Prefect Muller today, James Connell included the email he received yesterday from James Goodness. I held off on posting it until I could reach Goodness and get his permission. I've now spoken with him and he's given the go-ahead. Here is what he wrote: Dear Father Connell: I have forwarded to His Grace, The Most Reverend John J. Myers, the letter you have written to Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as you requested. Although I am sure that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will respond to you directly, I wish to make you aware of the following: Following the acquittal and final vacating of the charges against Fr. Michael Fugee, Archbishop Myers referred the matter to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a group of predominantly lay Catholics within the Archdiocese of Newark that is responsible for investigating all allegations of sexual abuse. Each lay member of the Archdiocesan Review Board has extensive experience in the law enforcement, law, investigation and clinical fields. The Review Board conducted a long and thorough investigation. That investigation included personal interviews, as well as review of all court documents from all sources, not solely the ones made available by the Newark Star Ledger to its online readers. At the conclusion of its investigation, the Archdiocesan Review Board determined that no sexual abuse had taken place. During the time of the Archdiocesan Review Board investigation, Fr. Fugee remained out of ministry. Archbishop Myers did send all information surrounding the allegation, including the court documents and the Review Board materials, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following the conclusion of the Archdiocesan Review Board's investigation. The Congregation subsequently, after a complete review of the materials, concurred that there was no sexual abuse and that Fr. Fugee could return to ministry. So, to answer the three questions you posed in your letter: 1) Archbishop Myers did present all information to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; 2) In doing so, Archbishop Myers did comply with both the Norms and the Vatican requirements to report the case to the Congregation, and; 3) consequently, your concerns are unnecessary. Had you addressed the matter to us directly, we would have made you aware of the answers immediately, Sincerely, James G. Goodness, KHSDirector of Communications and Public RelationsArchdiocese of Newark

Thanks, Gene. Does Apb. Mller know that Fr. Connell's communication to him has been made public? Does Apb. Mller know that the world is going to see his response? Better yet, does Francis know?

Claire,Isn't the answer to your question pretty straight forward? Allow Fr. Fugee to return to the ministry but do so within the boundaries agreed to in the court documents. In fact, isn't that more or less what the bishop had intended to do when he, or rather his designee signed the agreement?

Gene, thanks for tracking all this down. Here is the part that I'm having difficulty reconciling with Goodness' explanation:From Mark Mueller's 2/3/13 Star-Ledger story, linked to in Lisa's original post:"Under questioning by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and Wyckoff police, Fugee admitted touching the teen, saying he did it intentionally, that it sexually excited him and that he knew it was a violation, according to a transcript of his statement. "Presumably, this transcript was among "all court records from all sources" which the Review Board considered in its "long and thorough" investigation. And this admission seems sufficient to deem the accusation credible. Yet according to Goodness, the Review Board determined " that no sexual abuse had taken place."That seems to me to be the central difficulty: the priest is on record as confessing to an act that should remove him from ministry. It is no disrespect to Goodness to note that his explanation is not sufficient to allay doubts.

One more comment on this:I stated in my previous comment that doubts remain. I am frustrated. Anyone who has hung out on dotCom long enough can see the contours of this story forming: the archdiocese, undoubtedly on the advice of its legal counsel, releases the bare minimum amount of information to the public (including to its own people, the church of Newark), and this minimal amount in a way that cries out "spin" to anyone who can read. And because this is not sufficiently open and transparent, people demand to know more. And more is learned in the ways that American society permits: journalists interview victims, victims' advocacy groups and other stakeholders; journalists obtain publicly-available records and sift through them; and then they piece together stories about it. And victims and victims' advocacy groups sue, and through the legal process obtain the release of records that the archdiocese has declined to release on its own. The picture that is sketched is one of a lawyered-up fat cat with plenty to hide and doing all he can do hide it, vs. a horribly abused kid and crusading journalists. The church never, ever, wins this perception battle, ever.The church needs a new paradigm for handling these situations. I vote for truth-telling, contrition and reconciliation with victims; openness and transparency with its people and the public; and an itchy trigger finger on the ejector button for offending clergy and employees.

Mr. Goodness, KHS (I am assuming KHS stands for Knight of the Holy Sepulchre? Does anyone else find it strange that he uses these initials in his official correspondence?) speaks of an "acquittal" with regard to Fugee's criminal charges. But Fugee was not tried and acquitted. If he was, the prosecutors would not have been able to get the Memorandum of Understanding in this case. His conviction was overturned on appeal -- but Fugee was still subject to re-trial. The prosecutors offered an alternative resolution to the criminal charges, and Fugee accepted that offer -- but that is something quite different than an acquittal.Kudos again to Gene Palumbo. He should have the initials KII after his name -- Knight of Important Information

"Mr. Goodness... speaks of an acquittal with regard to Fugees criminal charges. But Fugee was not tried and acquitted."Jack Marth - right, that bugged me, too - in fact, I was going to comment on it. But in fairness to Goodness and Fugee, here is what seems to be the case:What Goodness actually refers to in his response to Connell is the "acquittal and final vacating of the charges against Fr. Michael Fugee". According to the Star-Ledger story from 2/3/13, "In 2003, a jury in Bergen County convicted him of the sexual contact count but acquitted him of the endangering charge. Sentenced to five years probation, Fugee appealed. Three years later, an appellate panel overturned the verdict on the grounds that the trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors."So to summarize it: Fugee was charged with two crimes; he was acquitted of one, but convicted on the other; the conviction was later vacated on appeal. So it is factual to characterize the outcome, as Goodness did, as the " "acquittal and final vacating of the charges against Fr. Michael Fugee".My issue is the overall thrust of the reply: clearly, it is to put Fugee in the best possible light, and leave the casual reader with the impression that Fugee has been completey exonerated and is free to resume ministry. Yet that doesn't square with certain facts as we know them now: that there is a transcript in which he confesses committing the crime; that he was convicted; that the conviction was overturned on a technicality that doesn't pertain to the essential facts on which the conviction was based; that he entered into a plea deal that bars him from any ministry involving unsupervised contact with children; that the Star-Ledger has documented instances that seem to violate that agreement; and that a number of entities, including a hospital in Newark and Church of the Sacred Heart in Rochelle Park have essentially kicked him out of ministry in their jurisdictions upon learning of his history - which they learned, not from Fugee or the archdiocese, but from the media. He also has been ministering in at least two other dioceses without permission, in ways that seem to violate the terms of his agreement with prosecutors.Among other things, I'd like to understand why, following the conviction, he wasn't retried and instead was sent for treatment and ordered to be supervised - a set of arrangements with a very long and tragic history of failure in the US Catholic church. It's puzzling that prosecutors would agree to these terms. The case against him must have been problematic, above and beyond the reason for the vacating of his conviction - that would be my first guess. Perhaps someone will do the hard work to inform us.

Goodness writes: "The Congregation subsequently, after a complete review of the materials, concurred that there was no sexual abuse..." Really now! (BTW, the KHS is such a giveaway.)Jim P writes: Under questioning by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and Wyckoff police, Fugee admitted touching the teen, saying he did it intentionally, that it sexually excited him and that he knew it was a violation, according to a transcript of his statement. No matter how parsed and technically accurate the Archdiocese tries to be, it fails the test of what it means to tell the truth, to speak truthfully. Bonhoeffer again: Communicating truthfully means more than factual accuracyThere is a way of speaking which isentirely correct and unexceptionable, but which is, nevertheless, a lieWhen an apparently correct statement contains some deliberate ambiguity, or deliberately omits the essential part of the truthit does not express the real as it exists in God.

Jim Pauwels,You note:"Among other things, Id like to understand why, following the conviction, he wasnt retried and instead was sent for treatment and ordered to be supervised a set of arrangements with a very long and tragic history of failure in the US Catholic church. Its puzzling that prosecutors would agree to these terms. The case against him must have been problematic, above and beyond the reason for the vacating of his conviction that would be my first guess. Perhaps someone will do the hard work to inform us."That struck me too, but then I realized that it had been 3 years since his original conviction, during which time presumably he was serving his sentence and reporting to a probation officer as required. Once the conviction was overturned, I would imagine that the prosecutor looked at the case, decided it would be a long and costly process which would end, best case, with Rev. Fugee serving out the remaining 2 years of his term. Under that scenario, he made a judgement to enter into the plea deal which is the subject of the current debate, and which, in his view at the time accomplished the goals of protecting children and insuring long term monitoring of Rev. Fugee. Perfectly logical decision on his part, unless you assume that the archdiocese and a priest will willfully ignore a written agreement.

Jim Dunn =Right. And the DA's office would have another reason to accept the agreement with the Archbishop == it would (supposedly) keep Fugee away from kids permanently, while a jail sentence would keep him away from them for only two years.

Jim Dunn - in my view, at the time the agreement between Fugee and prosecutors was entered into, the 2006-2007 time frame, such an agreement would have been quite problematic. By then, it was extremely well-known both in church and law enforcement circles that the treat-them-and-reinsert-them-into-ministry course was not successful. Nor, in my view, should church officials or prosecutors have been agreeing, by 2006-2007, to any program that relies on a confessed perp abiding by the terms of a written agreement. By way of comparison: when I was ordained in the spring of 2004, a condition for being ordained was that I and my classmates complete the "Protecting God's Children" program, in which it is forcefully taught that abusers cannot be trusted, that lying and rule-breaking is a part of their modus operandi. And in my view, Fugee's apparent violations of the agreement, and his "rogue" / unauthorized ministry in other dioceses since then, are very much in line with this sort of behavior: lying, ignoring rules, breaking rules, secretiveness - the sorts of things that an abuser does. The portrait being painted by these news reports is that he is that kind of a guy. It seems clear that Myers and the archdiocese did not and still do not consider Fugee to be a "confessed perp"; and according to them, neither does the Holy See. How that can be, is something to which the people of the church of Newark deserve an answer, in my opinion.

Get the latest news on all this from the Washington Post.://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/nj-catholics-outraged-over-accu..."Prosecutors have now launched an investigation into Fugees activities; that probe remains underway. If he is found to have violated the agreement, Fugee could face civil penalties, criminal charges or both,..."Bishop Myers is claiming that Fugee didn't violate the agreement because he was being supervised by other priests and two friends. I wonder if the bishop could be prosecuted for enabling Fugee if it is shown that Fugee was obviously meeting with kids with the bishop's approval.

Dear Jim P. ==Your well-known inclination to defend authority has been noticeably slipping lately. Therefore, I feel it is my duty to communicate to you these words of caution from the poet Robert Frost: "I never was a conservative in my youth because I didn't want to be a liberal in my old age".Having seem my dear old friend Don, the ex-staunch-conservative, turn into a raving liberal, I can tell you that these transformations can actually happen! The process is horrifying, like seeing someone become possessed by an evil spirit. So watch out!!! You will be in my prayers.

"A liberal is someone who keeps making the same mistake, while a conservative is someone who prevents a mistake from ever being corrected." (G. K. Chesterton)Be conservative in what you send, and liberal in what you accept. (Unknown)

Bishop Myers is claiming that Fugee didnt violate the agreement because he was being supervised by other priests and two friends. This is going to be one of the key issues - Myers/staff will argue that the MOU did not forbid Fugee from ministering to youth - rather, that the MOU only allowed this if Fugee was being supervised.Sort of like...it all depends upon how you define the word...*IS*Also, on what I posted earlier on the Lynn/Philly/Cipriano analysis - the judge's response to Lynn's appeal defense has now been released. Yes, it is a complex and murky picture but she adds significant details about the convicted priest, Avery (who also now says he never touched the primary witness, Billy Doe). Avery and Lynn started the trial as co-defendants but Avery withdrew with his guilty plea and settlement for three-six years. This Avery information was not allowed by the judge to be used or made public in Lynn's trial (so, not exactly a slam dunk, only pro-DA approach) - moreover, Lynn's attorneys chose to not cross-examine Billy Doe at which time they could have raised some of Cipriano's points; could have injected that Avery now claims that he never touched Billy Doe, etc. But, they chose not to do that - and now they blame/attack the judge!!http://www.bigtrial.net/2013/04/msgr-lynns-crafty-well-paid-defense.html

The take-home message is perhaps: do not trust your priests. Keep watch: they might be looking for opportunities to commit sexual abuse. Since the bishops are not up to the task, it's up to each of us to try to make sure that those opportunities do not arise.

Jim P,Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.

"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."I am amazed that a legal expert would say that "christian charity should provide every benefit of the doubt" to a complainant in a trial. I don't know what the relevance of the gospel story is here; "neither do I condemn thee" is rarely quoted in the adversarial courts; no one is condemning the witness, just trying to be sure that the witness is reliable, since others are being condemned on the basis of his evidence. Frankly, if a jury is swayed by such emotive appeals I would think a miscarriage of justice quite likely.

"The take-home message is perhaps: do not trust your priests. Keep watch: they might be looking for opportunities to commit sexual abuse. Since the bishops are not up to the task, its up to each of us to try to make sure that those opportunities do not arise."But I wonder if all this fretting about one priest who touched one teenager inappropiately at one time is not disproportionate -- and distracting from more rampant abuse throughout society? The sacred cow of Zero Tolerance somehow reminds me of the law about stoning adulteresses.

"The take-home message is perhaps: do not trust your priests. Keep watch: they might be looking for opportunities to commit sexual abuse."Claire - that is, in fact, not too far from the take-home message of the "Protecting God's Children" / Virtus programs that I mentioned in a previous comment. I'd characterize it this way: all of us have a responsibility for the well-being of children. And so, when we see signs of behavior toward children that crosses the line, all of us have a responsibility to act decisively to put a stop to it. That includes confronting the person crossing the line, and telling him/her that the behavior is inappropriate, and that it needs to stop; going to great lengths to keep an eye on people who have crossed these lines in the past, and not giving them the benefit of the doubt; and reporting legal violations to legal authorities and church authorities, following the correct channels. (A number of classes of persons who work for the church, such as clergy and school teachers, are mandated reporters and so are legally obligated to report misbehavior).The great majority of priests aren't abusers, and it's not fair to those who don't abuse to tar them with the assumption that they are. And for a parish priest or any priest involved in education (as is the case with religious-order priests who run schools), working with children is intrinsic to their ministry, and we do both them and the children a great disservice by keeping all priests separated from all children. But abusers seem to find the priesthood congenial to their sinful and criminal activity for several reasons: it brings them into ready contact with children in socially-approved settings; and we life-long Catholics have had life-long training in deferring to priests. Also, to be candid: not a few priests are odd ducks, and we learn to tolerate a modicum of oddball behavior from them.It is not just priests who abuse: all clergy (certainly including deacons), religious, teachers, other lay employees - abusers can have any number of roles in the church. And beyond the boundaries of the church, abuse happens in many other settings, including schools and family homes.Our job as parents and baptized members of the faithful is to look out for and protect our own children and one another's children.

Claire - one more comment. You state, "the bishops are not up to the task". I wish I could dispute that statement, but their overall track record is such that, to be frank, they're no longer entitled to the benefit of the doubt. This is one of the things that distresses me about this Newark situation: that Myers and Goodness seem to assume that they are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.No doubt I'm painting with too broad a brush here, but I note that Myers is 72 years old. Roughly speaking, he's part of the same generation of bishops as Law, Bevilacqua and Mahony (and, to be sure, my own archbishop, Cardinal George). This generation of shepherds has had some spectacular failures under its watch in protecting its lambs from the wolves. By contrast, Dolan, O'Malley, Chaput and Gomez are in their 60's. Whether these latter four have done better may be subject to question, but my impression is that, on the whole, they haven't been as bad. I'm speculating that there may be a generational thing at work here, such that the bishops who aren't quite as old a dog may be somewhat more adept at learning new tricks. If that is right, then as men born still more recently ascend to bishops' seats, perhaps we will continue to mark incremental improvements from our leaders.Nothing would make me happier than to see bishops and faithful working in concert to protect our children from abuse. Any bishop who shows a readiness to do this, I believe, would be received enthusiastically.

Joseph S. O'Leary: "The sacred cow of Zero Tolerance somehow reminds me of the law about stoning adulteresses." If not zero, how many episodes of abuse do you think should be tolerated per abuser?

The sacred cow of Zero Tolerance somehow reminds me of the law about stoning adulteresses.As a general rule, I'm not a fan of zero tolerance policies as they remove all possibility of exercising prudential judgment. But it's really no different than the standard in criminal law, in which a single conviction lands a perpetrator on a public sex offender list for the rest of his life.And to be frank, too many bishops have abused their discretion when given the chance to exercise prudential judgment. They've squandered their moral capital. Zero tolerance provides them a standard that is simple and, arguably, fair.In my view, Fugee's behavior as documented in these news stories, in which he seems to have violated the agreement with the prosecuting attorneys, is a strong argument in favor of zero tolerance (or as I think of it, One Strike And You're Out).

A couple of other Star-Ledger articles on Myers, Goodness and Fugee:An update on the Fugee story, "The furor grows":http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/furor_intensifies_over_newark.h... background article of Newark archdiocese's (mis)handling of other accused priests:http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/newark_archbishop_shielded_at.html

IMHO, no contact with children is entirely unworkable. Children are everywhere. They even have the impudence to show up where they are not supposed to be. I don't see how any fair-minded individual could ask for such a requirement.

Bruce, you caused me to review the facts.The agreement between the archdiocese, the prosecutor's office, and Fr Fugee was clear: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/528129-fugee-agreement-with-pros..."Additionally, as part of his employment/vocation within the Catholic church, he shall not have any unsupervised contact with or any duties that call for the supervision/ministry of any child or children under the age of 18."The word "unsupervised" applies only to "contact", not to "duties". That's why the word "any" is repeated. If "unsupervised" applied to both, then it ought to read " any unsupervised contact of duties "Instead, the text, as written in the agreement, is formally equivalent to "Additionally, as part of his employment/vocation within the Catholic church, he shall not have any unsupervised contact with any child or children under the age of 18, and he shall not have any duties that call for the supervision/ministry of any child or children under the age of 18."Yet, according to the Star-Ledger, "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. While children are certainly present in such situations, Fugee will not be alone with them, Goodness said. Hes on the altar, and families go home after Mass, the spokesman said." --- but how does Goodness know that there is no altar server? Who supervises Fr. Fugee to make sure he doesn't use the opportunity of celebrating Mass with children present to create dangerous situations? Also from the Star-Ledger, In 2009, "Myers installed Fugee as a chaplain at St. Michaels Medical Center in Newark without informing the hospital of his involvement in the criminal trial, [a post] which gave him unrestricted access to patients and visitors of all ages."Also from the Star-Ledger, "He has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Marys youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors."I don't see how anyone can in good faith claim that they believe he has not violated the terms of his agreement. Bruce, it's not a matter of having tried to prevent him from having contact with children, and having failed because "children are everywhere and show up where they're not supposed to be."The most damning quote is perhaps this one, also from the Star-Ledger: "We have every confidence in him," the spokesman [Jim Goodness] said. Is that really supposed to reassure us??

The sacred cow of Zero Tolerance somehow reminds me of the law about stoning adulteresses.Sure, if 21st Century Roman Catholic clergy were as powerless, degraded and marginalized as women in 1st Century Roman-occupied Palestine, then I too might be reminded of the stoning of adulteresses. Since they aren't -- I see no connection.Frankly -- I am much more reminded of the Jesus' zero tolerance of money changers in the temple.

There's also the bit about scandalizing "one of these little ones that believe in me."Millstones, baby.

Ann Olivier:You asked, Does Apb. Mller know that Fr. Connells communication to him has been made public?Yes, he does. At the end of Fr. Connells letters to him, one finds the following: cc: Archbishop John Myers, Archbishop of Newark, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Archbishop of Milwaukee, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, Chair of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, The Star-Ledger, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The National Catholic Reporter

Thanks, Gene. But I can't help but wonder how much Apb. Muller knows about what is actually going on here. Even though Fr. Connell wrote to him I rather doubt that he he is paying any attention to what a priest in Milwaukee is telling him about events in New Jersey.Sometimes I think that the only thing that would get the Vatican's attention would be massive demonstrations in St. Peter's Square complete with arrests of demonstrators carrying accusatory signs and singing "We Shall Overcome". I doubt that the Vatican pays attention to local American press coverage unless the international press also reports on it, e.g., the Guardian, der Spiegel, Figaro, etc. I don't think Newark has made those papers yet.

"The great majority of priests arent abusers, and its not fair to those who dont abuse to tar them with the assumption that they are. And for a parish priest or any priest involved in education (as is the case with religious-order priests who run schools), working with children is intrinsic to their ministry, and we do both them and the children a great disservice by keeping all priests separated from all children."In Ireland now, an altar server cannot be alone with the priest at any time. Surely this poisons the atmosphere of altar serving, which used to be a matrix of priestly vocations. In many universities, similarly, the instructors cannot be alone with a student -- the door must be left open etc. This again introduces an aura of suspicion that is alien to warm human relationships.Some of the answers I received above seem to be based on a misunderstanding of what Zero Tolerance means. As I understand it and as I think SNAP understands it, it means that a priest found guilty of any misbehavior with a minor, even once, and even decades ago, must be dismissed from all ministry. Bishops are expected to apply this automatically, with no consideration of the human context. Doesn't this lead to the kind of pressure that led the pharisees, all of whom has their own personal secrets, to follow the letter of the law and gang together against the adulteress, applying the law without any consultation of context or any thought of refraining from condemnation. I don't thing the Gospel's constant polemic against this vamped up moral fanaticism can be overridden by the millstones passage, as if Jesus himself were a fanatic; that passage is not targeting pedophiles but any of us who give scandal to the innocent; like all gospel texts it is addressed to us not them, me not you.

Jack Marth, are you saying that "neither do I condemn thee" applies only to special categories of people, the socially downtrodden and marginalized, preferable in an ancient context? This would be to rob that particular gospel of its meaning as recited on one of the Sundays in Lent. I suggest that the power of that Gospel is best felt when we apply it not to our sentimentalized adulteresses whom we have no difficulty forgiving, but so smelly pedophiles and dirty old men and shifty priests and bishops, whom we love to condemn.

Mr. O'Leary, thank you for the question. Without question we are called to love and forgive all sinners. What we are talking about here is not our mandate to forgive and love priests who have harmed minors (or forgive and love bishops who failed to supervise them properly) -- but policies that need to be in place to protect children. Excluding from the privileges of priestly ministry someone who confessed to touching the genitals of a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification is not condemnation -- it is a prudent and justified policy and one that is fully in line with Gospel values. Anger at bishops who fail to enact policies that protect children is also in line with Gospel values. We can love and forgive and still be angry at their failures and demand accountability.

I think that backs go up about policies regarding children when those policies are strongly interpreted as a slur against adults---in this case priests---rather than as a reflection of the utter vulnerability of children. To reflect on this vulnerability and to grow in willingness to protect it is to enter into a very adult project.

"In Ireland now, an altar server cannot be alone with the priest at any time. Surely this poisons the atmosphere of altar serving, which used to be a matrix of priestly vocations. In many universities, similarly, the instructors cannot be alone with a student the door must be left open etc. This again introduces an aura of suspicion that is alien to warm human relationships."The same practices are (or should be) followed in the US. And it's necessary: the old/traditional practice of having a priest alone with altar servers in the sacristy is now deemed too risky. (FWIW, in the US, the proliferation of permanent deacons has already changed the dynamic in the sacristy, even apart from the sex-abuse scandals. It's very common for priest, deacon - and his wife - and altar server to be together in the sacristry - and from time to time, the deacon also happens to be the parent of one or more of the servers.)But I don't know why the new sacristry precautions must poison the atmosphere nor must be deleterious to priestly vocations. I do see that having another adult present changes the dynamics from the point of view of the child - the child may be less likely to say what is on his mind to a priest if a parent or another adult is also present. We need to find ways in this new arrangement to develop relationships with altar servers that can bear fruit in vocations.

I dont see how anyone can in good faith claim that they believe he has not violated the terms of his agreement.Claire,What value is an agreement which by its terms cannot be kept? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't your interpretation would produce a violation if the priest walked from the church to rectory alone and happened to bypass a lone child. That would be a ridiculous and entirely unjust outcome. Better just to give the priest a lifetime in prison without possibility of parole.

"But I cant help but wonder how much Apb. Muller knows about what is actually going on here. "There is no possible way he can know as much as is known in-country. His responsibilities are much wider than sex-abuse scandals, and much broader than the US, much less a single diocese. The Holy See depends on accurate and responsible reporting from the diocese - which in turn depends on a full and responsible implementation of the provisions of the Charter. If any of those links in the chain are weak, the process is at risk of being undependable.(And if all those links in the chain are strong, the Holy See itself can still be a point of failure if it fails to discharge its responsibilities faithfully.)

Joseph O Leary,Doesn't this discussion get to your earlier comment that people want blood not justice. But isn't it really a case where people simply want protection from child sexual predators. It was clear that their bishops failed to provide that in Boston, in Ireland and in a number of other places. After Dallas there was a hope that the bishops would begin taking those steps, and some have. But too many have continued to put protection of the institutional church over the protection of its most vulnerable members. I suspect that people, having seen the bishops fail time and again to provide the protection, and in many instances not even make the attempt, are now looking for someone who will finally take their concerns seriously. Zero tolerance, criminal cases and all the rest of it are not so much the result of a desire for "blood" as they are a desire for someone to finally take these concerns seriously and do something about them.

"What value is an agreement which by its terms cannot be kept? Correct me if Im wrong, but wouldnt your interpretation would produce a violation if the priest walked from the church to rectory alone and happened to bypass a lone child. That would be a ridiculous and entirely unjust outcome. Better just to give the priest a lifetime in prison without possibility of parole."Bruce - your question can be asked cynically, and probably should be asked of the prosecutors: why enter into this sort of agreement, given that there are many instances of such arrangements not being worth the paper they're printed on?Note that the documented violations that Claire wrote about are not chance encounters with a child on the way to the church - they're one of two categories: willful violations on the part of Fugee (the youth retreats in other dioceses) that circumvent the church's safeguards for such things; or, what may be even worse, *formal assignments by the archdiocese*, as in the case of the hospital chaplaincy. The possibility of Fugee visiting the bedside of a child patient in a private room doesn't seem far-fetched at all to me. It's difficult to conclude anything except that the archdiocese took no account at all of the agreement in formulating Fugee's assignments. And as I noted earlier, Fugee's own willful disregard for the terms of the agreement is a huge red flag.He shouldn't be in ministry. He shouldn't be a priest in good standing. That's my view.

Bruce: "I dont see how anyone can in good faith claim that they believe he has not violated the terms of his agreement."Bruce -- meet Bill Donohue:http://www.catholicleague.org/star-ledgers-war-on-archbishop-myers/

The furor continues to grow in NJ, and Myers is stonewalling. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/newark_archbishop_monmouth_cou....

Dear Archbishop Myers: it appears you are following the Cardinal Law playbook in managing this crisis. Please stop.

Jim PauwelsI agree with you. I am of the opinion that if the Archbishop believes that Fr. Fugee is in fact innocent, he should be willing to come forward and state his position and why he holds it. It is possible that he, and perhaps the Advisory board, had access to additional information which clears the matter up. But even if that is so, and I admit to being skeptical, his handling of the situation has made matters worse.

Jim Dunn - I agree.

In my comment from 04/30/2013 - 10:26 pm, I meant: "do not trust anyone, not even your priests."

A prohibition of one-adult-alone-with-one-child is coming to be standard procedure within organizations that serve minors. It is prudent for the organizations themselves, which usually don't have the Church's ability to pay huge damage assessments. It helps to protect children from a very real danger. And it poisons only that which cannot proceed with the doors open.Most people today are able to draw a moral distinction between adultery and child molestation. One important difference is consent. If you are seeking an equivalent in adult behavior, it is rape, not adultery. And since child abusers depend so much on ingratiating themselves with their victims and gaining their confidence, a more precise comparison is date rape.Bruce drags a month-old herring across the thread by opining that no agreement restricting an abuser's contact with children can be effective, because "children are everywhere" and a priest might pass one in the street. It's the old "let's do nothing, because we can't do everything" solution to problems. Anyway, snatching kids off the street is not how abusers tend to work. That's a different kind of crime, with its own laws."Millstone" wasn't my word, it was Christ's, so generalize it into meaninglessness if you want to. What remains is Christ's paramount concern for the welfare of children. I don't advocate drowning pedophiles in the bottom of the sea with a millstone around their necks. (Neither did Christ; he said it would be something worse.) But I do favor reasonable measures to keep confirmed abusers from having a second opportunity, and anyone from having a first.

Well, the chicken went to roost in NJ. Meyers was Bshp of Peoria (IL) befor being "elevated" to Achbshp of NWK. Many good CTHLICs were glad to see him go and take one of his worst MNSGNRS with him. Here Catholic school teachers who attended Sat eve Mass regularly were summarily discharged as setting abad ex. His replacement D. Jenky is an Obama hating religious libritarian so we are not much better now. Why must these Romans keep scourging the Body of Christ?

It has been brought to my attention that I should have used "Fr." and not "Mr." when addressing Joseph O Leary. No disrespect was intended. Mark Silk at RNS has a piece worth reading:http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2013/05/02/bill-donohue-finds-another-b... makes many of the same points made here and summarizes the case quite well. I think he may be incorrect when he suggests Archbishop Myers could have sought clarification from the court on the MOU. But he certainly could have gone to the Bergen County Prosecutor for clarification.

Money quote by Mark Silk:Donohue contends that the court agreement expressly allowed Father Fugee to have contact with minors, provided he was supervised. The agreement allows no such thing, expressly or otherwise. The issue of supervision concerns contact with minors alone; contact is the only word the adjective unsupervised modifies. When it comes to ministering or working, theres nothing about supervision; the prohibition is absolute. Thats clear not only from the grammar but also from the list of disallowed activities. How is a priest to preside over a parish under supervision?

"The great majority of priests arent abusers, and its not fair to those who dont abuse to tar them with the assumption that they are."The great majority of Irish arent drunks and wife abusers.The great majority of Italians arent members of La Cosa Nostra.The great majority of women arent "near occasions of sin" for men.The great majority of Catholics arent lock-step followers of their clergy.Unfortunately, old stereotypes foster new stereotypes in the minds of willing believers.I think that maybe priests wouldn't be quite to tarred with the same brush if more of them had come public when they knew that pedophilia was happening and church authorites were turning blind eyes thereto. To be honest (and I stand willing to be corrected) I don't ever remember hearing of any priests blowing the public whistle until this all became public knowlege in the early 1990s.

My late pastor, Fr. James Tarantino, blew the whistle in the local newspaper on Fr. Dino Cinel not long after Jason Berry blew open the Gilbert Gauthe case in '85. He's the only priest I've ever heard of who did that.

...as in the case of the hospital chaplaincy... Jim,What ministry could the priest pursue where he could be certain he would never be alone and/or would never run into children? And for that matter, what adult could ever agree to such restrictions?

Norbert Rigali, (whose brother Justin would later play fast and loose with the Dallas Charter,) wrote in 1994 in Theological Studies on "Church Responses to Pedophilia," and described the scene in Canada and the US. He concluded by expressing a need for openness, transparency, and clear engagement with facts. Oh well. Then of course there's Tom Doyle, of the 1985 Peterson-Doyle-Mouton report to the NCCB, The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner. The report suggested a huge estimated financial liability of dioceses, and suggested policies that dioceses might adopt in response to the problem. In 1988, the Conference issued a memorandum with guidelines for dealing with this issue. In 1992, in the wake of the suits against the archdiocese of Santa Fe alleging acts of abuse by priests under treatment there, and the notorious James Porter case in Massachusetts, the conference issued a policy statement reiterating the 1988 memo, naming the 5 Principles for dealing with sex abuse cases:i.Respond promptly to allegationsii.Get the accused out of ministry if the charges are credible, and get him into treatmentiii.Comply with civil lawiv.Reach out to victimsv.deal as openly as possible with members of the community.These 5 Principles were not binding on bishops. Only about half of dioceses adopted sex abuse policies then.For bishops, I think 1985 marks a dividing line. Before then, the state of the psychological understanding of sex abuse, the reality of the problem among priests and the need for a comprehensive structural solution were not as clear. After 1985, they should have known better. And after the Dallas Charter, any toleration of known abusers must be intentional, istm.

This just in. It was posted a few minutes ago on the Star-Ledger's website.Priest at center of Newark Archdiocese scandal quits ministryBy Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger on May 02, 2013 at 8:54 PM, updated May 02, 2013 at 9:09 PM The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has been removed from ministry, a spokesman for the archdiocese said tonight. The Rev. Michael Fugee, who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on such behavior, submitted his request to leave ministry [this] afternoon, said the spokesman, Jim Goodness. Myers promptly accepted Fugees request, Goodness said.Fugee, 52, will remain a priest only the Vatican may grant a leave from that role but will no longer have authority to represent himself as a priest, say Mass or perform any Sacramental work, Goodness said. Asked if Myers had requested that Fugee step aside, Goodness said, "I only know that he offered to leave ministry and the archbishop accepted.". . . . Earlier this week, The Star-Ledger reported Fugee had seemingly violated the agreement with law enforcement, openly engaging in youth group activities at St. Marys Parish in Colts Neck. . . . .Since the disclosure, Goodness has argued Fugee did not violate the agreement because he was under the supervision of the youth ministers or other priests. Tonight, the spokesman sought to clarify his statements, saying that while it was "good" Fugee was under supervision, the priest did not seek permission from the archdiocese ahead of time."He engaged in activities that the archdiocese was not aware of and that were not approved by us, and we would never have approved them because they are all in conflict with the memorandum of understanding," Goodness said.Fugee, the spokesman added, acknowledged to Myers that he violated the agreement, an admission that could lead to more trouble for him down the line.The Bergen County Prosecutors Office launched an investigation into Fugee when The Star-Ledger alerted the agency late last week. The assistant prosecutor who authored the agreement told the newspaper Fugee could face civil penalties, criminal charges or both.http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/newark_archbishop_monmouth_cou_...

Goodness gracious -- Mr. Goodness has done a complete 180 on whether Fugee violated the MOU. With such dexterity in communications in defense of his boss, I'm sure he will be up for a promotion to the next level of the Knighthood. I expect to see at least KCHS (Knight Commander) or maybe even KC*HS (Knight Commander with Star).So in the end -- it is only because of the actions of the confessed abuser himself we have pseudo compliance with the Dallas Charter. I hope Connell in Trenton and Seratelli in Paterson are still sufficiently pissed to press this case with Rome.How long will it take for Bill Donohue to apologize to the Star Ledger?

Sorry -- I meant Bishop O'Connell in Trenton.

"What ministry could the priest pursue where he could be certain he would never be alone and/or would never run into children? And for that matter, what adult could ever agree to such restrictions?"The ministry that the archdiocese had assigned to him, where he was responsible for coordinating continuing education events for the priests of the archdiocese, seems like the least problematic type of arrangement - presumably he'd be working in some sort of diocesan central office where everyone in the office would be adults, there would be archdiocesan employees and supervisors to keep at least half an eye on him, and the work itself wouldn't require coming into contact with children.The problem with these arrangements, as a number of tragic/infuriating cases has demonstrated, is that if the perpetrator is determined to subvert the arrangement, he can usually find a way without too much trouble. I know in my own work, I'd find it pretty much impossible to simultaneously keep close tabs on a co-worker and also do my own job. And then, when the arrangement is violated by a perp who is sneaking around behind everyone's back, the diocese is liable for failing to do something that it was never well-positioned to do in the first place. It's a real problem, even for a diocese that would make a reasonable effort to keep track of the guy.This is why I've advocated that dioceses and the Holy See expedite dismissal of offenders from the clerical state - basically, fire them and shoo them out the door as quickly as possible. I don't think dioceses have the wherewithal to keep track of offenders; they're not able to be responsible for the perps' behavior. Offending clerics need to be put on the same basis as offenders from private employers, school districts and the like: they need to be dismissed, and then our society must determine what restrictions and safeguards to build around them - jail them, put them into treatment, put them on sex offender lists, and whatever else we can come up with.I've read Gene Palumbo's comment above - Fugee apparently has submitted his resignation and it has been accepted. Whether that news changes any of the arrangements in the agreement with prosecutors, I'm not sure. Until he's laicized by Rome, I think the archdiocese may still have some responsibility for him.Regarding your second question - what adult would ever agree to these restrictions: presumably, an adult who already has been convicted once of a sex crime, and faces the choice of agreeing to the restrictions or standing trial again.

"So in the end it is only because of the actions of the confessed abuser himself we have pseudo compliance with the Dallas Charter."I'd rather give the credit to a news organization serving the public trust. And the head of SNAP in New Jersey. And a priest in Milwaukee willing to stick his neck way, way out for what is right. And some pissed-off parishioners. And a couple of bishops who, in effect, publicly rebuked one of their brethren (perhaps even a superior on the food chain).And in addition to sort of getting to compliance, we also have the head of a major diocese whose reputation is completely shredded and, we can be sure, will never be recovered. And the institutional church has suffered another body blow to its credibility - which is like saying that a victim who has been run over by a vehicle 16 times, just got ran over again.It doesn't have to be this way.

May Fugee find himself facing both civil penalties and criminal charges befitting the facts on the ground. As for Myers, how convenient those chancery "clarifications" are in rescuing him from the focus of controversy. Ah, the wonders of bishops' word games, Goodness style.Minus the publicity, Fugee could have gone on for years, just as he has until now. Had his lawyer been successful expunging Fugee's records in 2009, nothing would be on file today. Thank you to the NJ judge who said, no, to Fugee's request. Lisa, Tom Doyle told me years ago that those USCCB Five Principles were simply fictitious when it came to actual cases. I am at a loss to name any from 1988-2002 on where they were honored. The Principles looked good on the USCCB website and their legal counsel liked to trumpet them, but there was little substance. Especially those points of complying with civil law and truly reaching out to victims...Ann, not only were priest reporters rare, but those who did go to the authorities were disgraced and removed from their posts. Three were victims who themselves became priests and found perpetrators were protected while they suffered greatly. The silence from priests was and is deafening. What about the priests who were around Fugee? All totally clueless, and if so, why, Myers? Such negligent supervision by a bishop shows how little value is placed on child protection, still. Finn and Myers - Opus Dei brothers.Let's see if Francis steps up to the plate in any meaningful way.(Jack, Saltarelli died about five years ago; William Malooly is the current bishop.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Francis_Malooly)

Yes, congratulations to Fr. Jim Connell, as Jim P notes. He is a heroic, gifted priest who stands for justice, and openly supports SNAP. A true rarity.Connell has been working for years to have the USCCB audits cover the Essential Norms (which is Church law) as well as the Charter's articles (sets policies and procedures but is not Church law). Years ago we submitted chapter and verse to the USCCB Gavin Group auditors only to be informed that even the Charter preamble does not qualify as audit material.Connell wrote: "...the scope of the audit as established by the bishops is of the charter only, not also of the Essential Norms. In other words, that which is legally binding on each diocese (Essential Norms) is not audited, while that which is not legally binding (charter) is audited. This must change."Remember former FBI agent Bill Gavin's admission in 2011 that "It was an audit in quotes...I think it was more of a program review than anything else." Connell wants to put teeth into the audits as much as possible by improving accountability. I suggest Connell's recommendations on the whole audit process become a thread here. I'd be happy to forward the documentation, which he would as well, I'm sure. Very enlightening material!

Perhaps I should add about Fr. Tarantino's case: his Archbishop (Hannan) didn't hold it against him, apparently. Fr. Tarantino was later appointed to a nice parish, and when Archbishop Hannan retired he went to live in that parish and regularly said Mass in the parish church. But he was an unusual bishop.

Nice to hear good news, Ann.

In the Star-Ledger story, Myers and Goodness come off a lot better than they might have. The lede says,

The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has been removed from ministry, . . .

Surely that will delight Myers; under the current circumstances, as he tries to cut his losses, it's the best he could have hoped for. You can hear his defenders already: Well, okay, it did take the good ole' archbishop a while to get around to acting on this, but goddammit, when he finally did act, he was decisive -- he removed Fugee from ministry. Except that he didnt. The simple truth is this: Fugee requested to leave the ministry. All Myers did was (grudgingly? reluctantly?) accept the request. Period. So whats the big deal? The lede could just as easily have read this way:.

The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has requested to leave the ministry.The archbishop has accepted his request.

Has quite a different sound, no?The same is true for Goodness. The article says he was clarifying his earlier statements. Clarifying? No way. He reversed himself, period. So why not come right out and say it, proving the point by using his own words against him. In other words, why not have the article say this:

While, earlier in the week, Goodness insisted that Fugee had not violated the MOU, tonight he admitted that Fugee had done exactly that. He engaged in activities that the archdiocese was not aware of and that were not approved by us, said Goodness, and we would never have approved them because they are all in conflict with the memorandum of understanding.

Sounds quite different from he clarified his earlier statements, no?In any event, this isnt over. At least three questions remain. The first was raised by Mark Silks post:

On March 19, 2001, Fugee was read his Miranda rights and interrogated by a police detective, who proceeded to elicit a confession from the priest that he had the year before groped an adolescent with whom he was wrestling. . . . . Under the Dallas charter, only a determination that such an act had not occurred would allow him to remain in ministry. And so, it seems, Myers called in his review board. How it could have found that no abuse occurred is beyond me. To be sure, the jury verdict was tainted. But the judges finding in open court that Fugees confession had been freely and voluntarily given was as valid as ever. Surely that should have outweighed Fugees self-serving testimony. Nonetheless, the review board went the other way, Rome signed off, and Myers went ahead and returned Fugee to ministry.

The question: How will Archbishop Myers explain the review boards decision that Fr. Fugee didnt do what he had already confessed to doing?The second and third questions were posed to CDF Prefect Muller by Fr. Jim Connell, after Connell was informed by Goodness that Archbishop Myers did send all information surrounding the allegation (against Fugee), including the court documents and the Review Board materials, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following the conclusion of the Archdiocesan Review Boards investigation. The Congregation subsequently, after a complete review of the materials, concurred that there was no sexual abuse and that Fr. Fugee could return to ministry.Connell asked Muller: Did Myers really send you all of the material, including Fr. Fugees confession? And is it true that the CDF concurred that there was no sexual abuse and that Fr. Fugee could return to ministry?Connell ended by saying, Archbishop Mller, a thorough and prompt explanation of this situation is needed. It sure is.

@ Jim Pauwels -- You are absolutely correct that Star Ledger, Fr. Connell and victims' advocacy groups, and others deserve huge credit this outcome. My comment was more meant to point out, even at this late date, the passive role of the Archbishop. If we take Goodness at his word (maybe a mistake), the Archbishop move to comply with the Dallas Charter was merely the acceptance of a resignation. @Carolyn Disco -- rumors of Paterson, NJ Bishop Arthur Serratelli's demise are greatly exaggerated. I think you are confusing him with the former Bishop of Wilmington, DE. Serratelli has expressed publicly his displeasure that Fugee was allowed to spend a weekend with minors at a retreat facility in his diocese. Here's hoping his displeasure is not abated and it helps push for greater accountability out of Newark.@gene palumbo -- you are very correct that Star Ledger has been more than generous in its characterizations of Myers and Goodness. Makes Bill Donohue's ranting about anti-Catholic bias in the media even more ridiculous. By the way, for all the claims of the liberal media out to do harm to the Church -- this story is getting practically no attention outside of the Star Ledger and some local media in NJ. The NYTs has a puff piece on BXVI's return to the Vatican today -- but nothing on this scandal

Ann, and Carolyn, the Chicago Tribune has been running a series of articles on the Joliet Diocese's shortcomings in abiding by the Charter. The circumstances recounted in a couple of the cases have some similarity to that of Fugee and Newark. This particular one concerns a priest, Carroll Howlin, who is supposed to be out of ministry and monitoried by the diocese but in fact it had no clue what he was up to. (I am not certain whether or not this is behind a paywall; it is accessible to me).http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-26/news/ct-met-joliet-diocese... one concerns a priest, William Virtue, who remained in ministry despite a number of credible accusations against him, and managed to avoid penalties in part by moving from one diocese to another.http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-07/news/ct-met-secret-priest-... any rate, I'm calling these out, not only because of the similarities with the Fugee case, but also because in both cases, brother priests did blow the whistle on them. So there is some hope on that score, at least.

"@gene palumbo you are very correct that Star Ledger has been more than generous in its characterizations of Myers and Goodness."I wonder if part of this could be an aspect of beat reporting. To compare this situation to something more trivial: there is a theory floating about that the beat reporters who cover a major league baseball team every day throughout the summer, tend to be somewhat soft on the players and other ballclub personnel on whom they rely for stories, and who they meet every day in the locker room and on the field. The theory would be that reporters need to get the story without completely burning bridges with their subjects. For example, 10-15 years ago, many sports journalists were writing that Barry Bonds was "juiced up" on steroids or HGH, but the SF Giants beat reporters were not making the accusations, allegedly because they needed to cultivate some sort of relationship with Bonds in order to do their jobs. Maybe Gene or other journalists could comment.

@Jack Marth - I appreciate the word about the two Serratelli's. I was indeed confusing Michael with Arthur.@Jim P - Wonderful to have more good news about priests blowing whistles. SNAP maintains information about priests who should not be in ministry. I'll check their list. Their heightened sense of vigilance is so understandable.Fugee, Howlin and Virtue raise questions about how many more situations there are like this. What are bishops thinking??? Is their blindness an acquired or natural trait? Is their sense of exemption and arrogance so ingrained that no one is going to tell them what to do? Stupidity? What? The impact of thinking of oneself as Excellency or Eminence who enjoys absolute power in his diocese?It does speak clearly about their priorities though. I respect your insights, Jim, and if you see what's at play here from your vantage point, let us know. George's record after Dallas was certainly damaging.Our former NH AG and now US senator said her office had to drag our bishop and his aides "kicking and screaming into compliance" with really meaningful independent state audits they accepted as part of a non-prosecution agreement. It was all so unnecessary.

"What are bishops thinking???"Carolyn: I'm sure all those factors you mention - arrogance, blindness, etc. - do factor in, to some extent or another, as they do for me, too. And remnants of the old protect-one-another culture surely is a big part of it. I'd add a few other factors as well: * Lack of excellence (I hesitate to use the term "incompetence"): not every bishop is a gifted administrator. And even in cases in which bishops are ordained and then promoted because they've demonstrated strong management and administrative skills, their chanceries and diocesan management apparatuses are very large, complex and multi-layered organizations that, like all bureaucracies, contain a mixture of people, some of whom are competent and some who aren't; some who operate in good faith and some who don't. Frequently - to be brutally candid - it is the laypersons and religious sisters who are competent administrators, and the bureaucratic clerical types who aren't.* Turnover. I don't know what the average tenure of a bishop is in the US, but I'd guess it's less than 20 years. Any bishop appointed to any diocese or vicariate nowadays is going to inherit a certain number of cases of personnel with Dallas Charter violations that must be dealt with. But it's oh so tempting to not deal with them, or to deal with them ineffectively. If the bishop is not from the diocese, he has no knowledge of the players and the history. Granted, that could be good or bad, depending on his approach - bad if he's not zealous about cleaning up, good if he's willing to hurt the feelings and end the careers (and possibly send to jail) people he hasn't yet befriended. But I'd think that most bishops who come into a new diocese don't want to rock the boat and be the bad guy - they want to enjoy a honeymoon period.* Lack of zeal. I think a lot of these guys truly don't understand, even yet, the amount of effort and resources and vigilance that it takes to root out the rotten apples. As I suggested in a previous comment, there may be a generational aspect to this - the relatively younger guys may catch on to this better than the older guys. But we've learned that being audited by the National Review Board, and convening the diocesan review board from time to time, and reviewing personnel files once in a very great while, all may be necessary, but aren't sufficient to turn things around and stamp out the brush fires of trouble that ignite from time to time. Keeping track of a guy like Fugee, who strikes me as a bad guy who considers himself exempt from normal standards of conduct, requires persistence and zeal. If you're going to keep a guy like him around, you need to make it somebody's full time job to keep tabs on him, and that watcher needs to be a bulldog. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you shake all these things together and look in the shaker to see what policies suggest themselves, I really think the best, most realistic thing to do is to just cut ties with the bad guys as expeditiously as possible. Controlling sex offenders is not something that a church is competent at. Don't even try; just get rid of them.

Thanks, Jim, for taking the time to respond. I would add not being fathers, never having their own flesh and blood at risk. They simply don't register the pain of survivors except in an abstract way. It's still basically about them.Where are the shepherds?

Carolyn - yes, very good point, I do think lack of empathy / lack of imagination is another factor. Such limits, in my opinion, are signs of the Fall. Their best cure, I'd think, is to spend time with victims. Most bishops have spent much more time with priests than with victims, and explains, I think, how it is (which we've seen in this present case of Archbishop Myers and Fugee) that they can actually see the priest as the victim in these situations.

Actually I am against laicization because the priesthood is meant to be forever, because excluding people who do wrong is not the correct way to go about building a better church, and because having among us priests who have a past would help dissipate the idea that priests are better than other people. We've got to find ways to keep them with us and keep our children safe at the same time. (Knowing their past would go a long way for that, I think)

The Newark Archdiocese has released a statement from Fugee:http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/priest_is_newark_archdiocese_s.... "In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the Archdiocese. The leadership of the Archdiocese of Newark, especially Archbishop John Myers, did not know or approve of my actions. My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone."I strongly suspect Fugee was pressured to say this and fall on his sword for Myers. It just does not add up -- especially when you consider that the Archbishop's spokesman, Mr. Goodness made it perfectly clear that his office knew of the activities of Fugee at issue and argued they were acceptable under the MOU. Just look at some of Goodness's quotes from the earlier reporting where Goodness defends the parish work and youth retreats as acceptable because Goodness was supervised by other priests and his youth minister friends. He gets indigent when the reporter, correctly, points out that his friends may have a conflict of interest. See here for examplehttp://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/with_approval_of_archbishop_pr.... It is very sad that Archbishop Myers continues to refuse to take any responsibility here. To me he is throwing Fugee, a man who must be in tremendous turmoil, completely under the bus. I fear the results will not be good.

Claire --There's another reason not to ostracize Fugee -- if he's tossed into the streets the children wherever he is will be even more vulnerable.This, of course, is a problem with all of the laicized priests, and teachers, etc., who are simply tossed out of their institutions. I don't think our culture has faced up to this huge problem. At the moment there doesn't seem to be any solution, since apparently there is no cure for many of the perps.

Ann, the pastor of St Mary's in Colts Neck could have had an announcement in the parish bulletin, such as: "I am pleased to announce that Fr Fugee will join us as a part time associate pastor. (brief bio, then:) Fr Fugee is a registered sexual offender, and is not allowed to minister to children or to youth under 18 years old. For the present, I have assigned him to give communion to the people in our retirement home, and to help organize our famous fish fry. Please join me in welcoming him to our parish community and helping him get a new start in his life as a priest."

"Theres another reason not to ostracize Fugee if hes tossed into the streets the children wherever he is will be even more vulnerable."Ann - while it is true that if he's tossed into the streets, children will be vulnerable, it seems to me to also be true that if he is not tossed into the streets, children will be vulnerable. And inasmuch as many church ministries bring ministers into contact with children, it seems quite possible that keeping him in church ministry actually *increases* the danger to children. To the extent that is true, it actually serves the interest of children to get him out of ministry. It also protects the good name and the assets of the church, which in my view also are legitimate goals.You're quite right, in your second paragraph, that society has to determine what to do with offenders. Surely vigilance on all our parts on behalf of all children is important in that regard.

"Mr. Goodness made it perfectly clear that his office knew of the activities of Fugee at issue and argued they were acceptable under the MOU."I have to say, based on some of those Joliet Diocese articles to which I linked in a previous comment, that this is the part that doesn't have the ring of truth: that Newark Archdiocese was aware of of what Fugee was up to.

"But I dont know why the new sacristry precautions must poison the atmosphere nor must be deleterious to priestly vocations. I do see that having another adult present changes the dynamics from the point of view of the child the child may be less likely to say what is on his mind to a priest if a parent or another adult is also present. We need to find ways in this new arrangement to develop relationships with altar servers that can bear fruit in vocations."A young boy or girl who makes her way early to church on weekday winter mornings to serve mass becomes a problematic case when his or her being alone with the priest in the sacristy is regarded as a no-no.Having to keep doors open when students come to one's room seems to me to place over the whole encounter a warning sign: beware of your prof, he may want to harass you sexually, and more acutely, beware of your student, he or she might report you for sexual harassment. The doors open policy is much more about the latter issue. The damage to warm communication and effective pedagogy is real.

Bishop O'Connell's email to priests of Trenton:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5FGuFFkfrDvMV9TV216OTR4eFk/preview?pli=... pastor and youth ministers in Colt's Neck parish are fired. Somewhat annoying that the pastor who welcomed Fugee gets a sabbatical (paid, I assume) -- but the lay youth ministers are simply terminated. Regardless, I think the email reveals O'Connell's continued anger. He appears to be acting decisively, with the safety and welfare of children paramount. Kudos to him. Hopefully he is also directing some of his decisive anger at Myers as well.Latest from the Star Ledger:http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/new_revelations_in_priest_scan.... revelations that Fugee was knee deep in youth ministry work, in this story at a parish in Nutley, NJ, part of the Newark Archdiocese. The quotes from the Nutley pastor, Bochiccho, are astoundingly clueless and reveal how little Myers has done to educate his priests on the importance of protecting children. From the story:"One thing I can tell you is that his (Fugee's) greatest fans are teenagers," said Bochicchio, a monsignor and Holy Familys pastor.Bochicchio makes no secret of Fugees interactions with young people. Indeed, there was nothing furtive about it. Photos on Facebook show the two priests celebrating Mass together and joining in a prayer circle with teens on an annual pilgrimage to a Canadian shrine... Bochicchio offered a spirited defense of the priest, calling him "one of the gentlest and most compassionate men I know.""I feel hes been maligned, because if anyone knew him, they would know he is not the monster or predator that he is made out to be," the monsignor said.The entire criminal case against Fugee, he said, has been a misunderstanding from the start.While calling it "imprudent" of Fugee to wrestle with a 13-year-old boy, Bochicchio said any contact with the teens genitals was accidental."When youre wrestling, that could happen," he said.Bochicchio said the teen waited more than six months to report the incident, calling the delay significant."It seems kind of strange to me that if this was an immediate concern to someone, it would have been reported immediately," he said.The monsignor also said Fugee has told him he confessed to police only after hours of interrogation without a lawyer. Fugee ultimately recanted."I know someone who went through an experience like that, and after that, youre almost ready to say anything," Bochicchio said.The balance of the confession, in which Fugee told authorities he was sexually excited by touching the teen, was never called into question by the appeals court.Asked why Fugee agreed to pretrial intervention, essentially admitting wrongdoing, if he believed he was innocent, Bochicchio said, "People get to a point where they dont want to fight anymore.""The real proof is that he was allowed back into ministry," Bochicchio said, referring to the archdiocese review board finding that no abuse took place. "I know several cases of priests who were allowed to return to ministry because there wasnt any real substance to the charges against them."The monsignor said he last spoke with Fugee just before he asked to be removed from ministry Thursday afternoon. Though Goodness, Myers spokesman, maintains the archbishop did not push Fugee out, Bochicchio said he suspects the decision was mutual."I know he values this priesthood, and I know this certainly was devastating to him," the friend said.Bochicchio added that Fugee did not intend to leave the priesthood and was hoping to return to ministry, albeit with tight restrictions. He said Fugee was in no way a danger to children.

Awww, geee!People by the millions are passing through metal detectors, enduring full-body scans, and being harassed and humiliated daily because of the actions of a tiny minority of people bent on inflicting violence. And likewise, the easy and unexamined trust that Catholics used to feel toward their priests has been severely undermined by the actions of a few of them. Who knew until recently that the sacristy and the rectory could be two of the most dangerous places in the parish? A fallen world indeed!Danger to warm communication and effective pedagogy my eye! All that is really lost or at least limited in open meetings is opportunities for predatory adults and malicious children to act with impunity. Why would anyone argue against that? Seriously, why?We used to be urged to avoid occasions of sin. Are we now to be told to leave our doubts in the hallway, walk right in, shut the door, and sit down?

From the Star-Ledger story:

The balance of the confession, in which Fugee told authorities he was sexually excited by touching the teen, was never called into question by the appeals court.Asked why Fugee agreed to pretrial intervention, essentially admitting wrongdoing, if he believed he was innocent, Bochicchio said, People get to a point where they dont want to fight anymore.

But theres another possible explanation, and this one is very different. From Mark Silks blog:

Its important to recognize that something critical happened between Fugees confession and his recantation: the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, passed at the June 2002 meeting in Dallas of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The charter, which Myers helped draft, stipulated that for even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor whenever it occurred which is admitted or established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon is to be permanently removed from ministry. In other words, after Dallas, Fugees confession was sufficient to guarantee his permanent removal from priestly ministry.http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2013/05/02/bill-donohue-finds-another-b...

The good thing about Fr. Bochicchio is that, unlike some other people in this affair, he's consistent in his words and in his actions. He may be foolish and blind, but he sounds like a real man*: he's loyal to his friend and courageous to stick his neck out in his defense even in the middle of this mess.*I can't think of a p.c. analog for this term

Linked below is a good summary of how Myers and Goodness have utterly failed at communications. Matthew 5:37 comes to mind: Let your Yes mean Yes, and your No mean No. Anything more is from the evil one. http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/05/adubato_communication_game_..."The business of the church is to communicate in a clear and unambiguous fashion. In this case, it has done anything but that. Instead, the official position of the Archdiocese is to parse language and play communication games.Real leadership is not about playing games. It is about taking responsibility and accountability for the actions of those in your flock or on your team. Thats what we expect from leaders in business and clearly from leaders in the church. Either the intent is to protect children or it isnt, and the fact that the Archbishop of Newark chooses not to communicate is disappointing and sends all the wrong messages."

Jack Marth - your comment from 5/5 8:56 pm is outstanding. And the Adubato column is on point. The purpose of the church is to proclaim the Good News. The New Evangelization (or even traditional old evangelization) rises or falls on the church's ability to proclaim the Good News clearly and courageously. A church that earns a reputation for parsing and prevaricating and covering its *ss in its public statements is failing in its most essential mission. Truth-telling should be the minimum acceptable criterion for any minister of the Gospel.

"The good thing about Fr. Bochicchio is that, unlike some other people in this affair, hes consistent in his words and in his actions. He may be foolish and blind, but he sounds like a real man*: hes loyal to his friend and courageous to stick his neck out in his defense even in the middle of this mess."Claire - don't you think, though, that Fr. Bochicchio should be loyal to adolescent victims, and should be courageous to stick his neck out on their behalf? My own view is that Bochicchio is exhibiting the worst aspects of clericalism here, the sort of misplaced loyalty that values friendship with the wolf over the well-being of the vulnerable lambs. (I am sorry if my words are strong here, but it is how I am looking at this).

Mark Silk continues with his excellent analysis of this case:http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2013/05/06/the-significance-of-newark/Silk points out a very important contradiction contained in the the most recent communication from the Archdiocese:In last Thursdays self-exculpatory announcement of the departure of Fr. Michael Fugee from the public exercise of priestly ministry, they (the Archdiocese) assert: Following the Memorandum of Understanding, the Archdiocese did not assign Fr. Fugee to any post involving ministry with minors. His assignments were supervised administrative positions located at the Archdiocesan Center in Newark.Thats not true. As was reported four years ago, and recalled in the Star-Ledgers stories about Fugees recent employment with parish youth groups, after his term of probation was over in 2009, Fugee was assigned as a chaplain to St. Michaels Medical Center, over a mile away from the Center.I predicted earlier in this thread that Jim Goodness will move up in his rank in the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre -- that may well happen -- for unquestioning loyalty to Myers. But looking at how Myers has acted so far --I predict Goodness will be the next to get thrown under the bus by Myers. It may well be deserved, but it will just be another way for Myers not to take responsibility. He will claim he was ill-served by his Director of Communications and Public Relations.

Jim: he is confused. He doesn't believe that there are adolescents at risk, so for him there is no issue of loyalty to them. Blind but still brave, or if you prefer, brave but blind. What does that have to do with clericalism?

Claire, yes, he is blind - culpably so.

Yet another must-read story from the Star-Ledger, this time on the Trenton diocese parish where Fugee was doing ministry without the permission of the Trenton bishop. The bishop, O'Connell, is coming across as a bishop who "gets it".http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/three_more_resign_for_allowing....

"Real leadership is not about playing games. It is about taking responsibility and accountability for the actions of those in your flock or on your team. Thats what we expect from leaders in business and clearly from leaders in the church." Jack Marth @5/05 8:56 pmThat's not at all what I expect. I hope for it wanly, but if expectation should be based on experience, I see no reason to expect better from business or church leaders than what we habitually get. Their interests are not our interests, and they care not a fig for what we think, since they have seen to it that we have no real influence with them. A spectacular failure in business will occasionally bring about a shakeup in leadership if other leaders are threatened with loss. But Church leaders simply wait out their critics if they can't burn them, and they flush their failures away in a spate of mellifluous holytalk that's kept them reliably in power and luxury for centuries. If they can survive their nonchalant response to the sexual abuse of children, nothing will ever touch them.On the up side, I have a pretty dismal record in foretelling the future.

Aside: I love it that the term "stonewalling" has entered into normal discourse.I hope that most people know its derivation.

But what does that have to do with clericalism?

More information in an NCR story today:

In his letter (of resignation), Triggs expressed thanks to his parish community of six years. He also announced he had accepted the resignations of the two youth ministers -- Amy and Mike Lenehan -- who had asked Fugee, a close friend, to occasionally assist with retreats and other activities. While acknowledging the controversy, the pastor offered no apology in his letter."The controversy that has arisen during the past week, discussed at the parish forum on Friday night, has made it clear to me that the good of our parish can only be served if I step down as pastor," Triggs wrote.The Friday meeting had Triggs, the Lenehans and several parish deacons answering questions from a concerned St. Mary's Parish community.Although the meeting was closed to the press, a parishioner who attended told NCR that each gave a brief statement before opening the floor to questions . . . . Triggs and the Lenehans reiterated the position that they had no knowledge of ministerial restrictions regarding Fugee. The Lenehans described him as "cleared of charges" and said they felt betrayed when they saw news reports, first in the Newark Star-Ledger, last week.In his brief comments, Triggs stated he first learned of Fugee's restrictions from the recent media coverage and said the parish was reviewing procedures. Deacon Vincent Renaldi told parishioners he would lead the parish in those efforts as its child safety coordinator, and he and a committee will implement new safeguards to its child protection procedures, including requiring fingerprinting, background checks and nametags to be worn when around children.When it came their turn to talk, the parish community appeared divided in their opinion, one parishioner told NCR. Some voiced their support of the Lenehans, including members of the parish's youth group, and called the Fugee fallout a "witch hunt"; others questioned why a letter of suitability -- a requirement since 1995 -- was never sought for Fugee and called for the resignations that came the following day. http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/pastor-youth-ministers-resign-w...

As the story points out, in his letter of resignation, the pastor didnt apologize. One wonders: why? Heres the letter: http://www.stmarycoltsneck.com/images/stories/stmarys/flyers/2013/father...

@John Prior 05/06/2013 - 3:02 pmWhile I endorse the sentiment, those words are not mine. That's a quote from the article linked by Steve Adubato .

Quite right, Jack Marth. I misread the quotation marks. I'm sorry I attributed those words to you.

And so, in Colt's Neck, three careers in ministry gravely wounded, perhaps fatally, and a faith community divided. The evil of sexual abuse of children, and the failure of those in authority to act decisively on behalf of the victims and for the good of the community, just continues to cascade. It's like ripples in a pond.

Claire - if we think of clericalism as the tendency of clergy to protect and increase their power and prerogatives at the expense of the people they should be ministering to, then in my view, the ways that clericalism manifests itself in the instance of a sex abuse scandal are on display in this Fr. Fugee scandal. Fr. Bochicchio's reaction was to defend the reputation of his brother priest, in the face of all evidence, and to give him further access to potential victims. Archbishop Myers' reaction was to circle the wagons, stand mute, and remain passive in the face of a situation that cries out for decisive action, all in the name of ... what? Certainly, not in the name of justice for victims and the church he shepherds.The priest, Bochicchio, no doubt, was speaking from his heart, which was not being suitably informed by his head. Perhaps he is entitled to take a mulligan on his public statements, but only one, and only if his subsequent drive is straight down the middle of the fairway. The archbishop - well, I have a difficult time conjuring sympathy for him. Between him and his advisers, all of them should know better.

Jim, I don't see any indication that Fr Bochicchio acted the way he did with Fr Fugee specifically because Fugee is a priest. I would tend to believe that he would behave in the same way (thoughtless, loyal, like a labrador) with any friend of his, not with priests because they are priests.As to Abp Myers and Goodness, it is better that I do not write what I think of them.

Also, I have no problem with Fr. Bochicchio bearing consequences for his lack of judgment.

Jim and Claire,There are countless cases of sexual abuse where the code word "wrestling" was used. It was a stock answer and Richard Sipe even wrote an article about such code words basically designed to mask the truth.A friend, Peter Pollard, abused in Boston by George Rosenkranz who was excused by McCormack for horsing around. Abuser James Aylward in San Francisco "wrestles" with a teen, is caught by another priest, who is removed from office for reporting perp to police. Levada forced to admit later it was abuse. Bochicchio is part of exhibit A in why the crisis was allowed to fester as it did. He takes the word of a priest that the case was all a set-up. The confession? Extracted somehow from an innocent man! Really now. His excuses for Fugee were legion. It's called "willful blindness" under the law.And the bishops were so supine in accepting abusers' claims to "wrestling or horsing around." Where has Bochicchio been for the last decade plus? Ignorance doesn't begin to cover it; more like "conscious ignorance," another legal term. Wake up and grow up!Start by reading Sacrilege by Leon Podles, or the first Phila grand jury report: The abuses ranged from glancing touches of genitals under the guise of innocent wrestling to sadomasochistic rituals and relentless anal, oral, and vaginal rapes. We found that no matter what physical form the abuse took, or how often it was repeated, the damage to these childrens psyches was devastating.Nette Vogel, a Rhode Island Supreme Court judge was furious when the Providence diocese skirted her court order to report abuse instances and deleted wrestling and horseplay. This is fondling a boys genitals, shot back Vogel. Later, alluding to Bishop Gelineaus written response, Vogel asked, He didnt consider that notice of sexual misconduct? . . . Whats horseplay? Im baffled. Parents are going to the Woonsocket police over horseplay? . . . He might look very weak on cross-examination if he wants to suggest to a jury that such information was considered by him to be merely horseplay, that it was sufficient to transfer the priest to a larger parish, that the Woonsocket police were involved, and that he didnt see the need to pursue it further. (Bishop) Gelineau), said (Judge) Vogel, was a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil type of guy, apparentlyIf Bochicchio doesnt get the point, maybe he will believe Bishop John Kinney, former head of the USCCB ctee on sexual abuse: We learned that even those priests who seem to their congregations, their fellow priests, and their superiors among the most dedicated and pastorally sensitive can be abusers. Their pathology enables them to develop highly effective strategies to conceal their desires and behaviors.Parents better not trust their children around Bochicchio if he is as clueless as his ignorant comments suggest. Was he trained in abuse detection and prevention or not?? I am out of patience.

Carolyn: one wonders, indeed, whether he was trained in abuse prevention.Jim: clericalism as the tendency of clergy to protect and increase their power and prerogatives at the expense of the people they should be ministering to - I don't think of it quite that way. A mere tendency to increase one's power at the expense of the people over which one has some authority, as you write, well, that's just natural everywhere and in other settings as well. Instead, I think of clericalism as setting clergy apart from and above lay people, as though they were better because they are clergy, as though the rules that apply to others don't apply to them because they are clergy. All the things that sharpen the separation between lay and clergy (for example, elaborate vestments, physical barriers between the sanctuary and the rest of the church, reserving a special foreign language to clergy, lay people kneeling in front of a standing priest, reserving the communion cup to the clergy, repeating ad nauseam that priest = Christ, and even celibacy requirements for clergy) heighten the risk of clericalism, and all the things that emphasize what we have in common decrease it.

Carolyn - you're much more eloquent on this than I could be.Claire - I don't think we're far apart on clericalism. Your examples are primarily liturgical, but clericalism can manifest itself in many ways, and I'm suggesting that the way it manifests itself in a sex-abuse incident is what we've seen play out in Newark: both Bochicchio and Myers apparently believe that Fugee is exempt from both laws and common-sense rules and precautions. Perhaps you're right that Bochicchio would be loyal to a fault with any of his friends, whether clergy or lay, but Carolyn states what I had in mind: there is a pervasive pattern of priests being loyal to a fault with brother priests. Barbara once wrote something very perceptive, which I don't know how to find or retrieve from the archives, but which would bear another reading: that when a priest discovers evidence of another priest's abusive behavior, he must blow the whistle, not only on a confrere, but on a personal friend. Many priests have failed the test of valuing the protection of victims over the bonds of personal friendship. I understand that, as I have failed many tests in many situations over the years. Yet because we find a personal failure to be understandable, we needn't and mustn't excuse it. This is why I find Bishop O'Connell's reaction to the Colt's Neck situation to be bracing. I hesitate to gush about it, because bishops as a whole never seem to reach the bottom in their capacity to disappoint when it comes to their management of sex-abuse scandals, but I think it's the very best reaction by a bishop to a sex-abuse situation that I can think of.

Yes, the Trenton bishop's statements are hopeful. We need that hope, Jim.But please excuse my "hermeneutic of suspicion" if I add, "trust, but verify (first)."

Carolyn, yes, both his statements and his actions.

Claire: I think a primary tool of clericalism IS stonewalling.

An array of NJ politicians now are calling for Myers to resign.http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/senate_president_stephen_sween_...

... and here is more on calls from NJ politicians for Myers to step down.http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/as_criminal_probe_continues_se.... live 1000 miles from New Jersey and claim no knowledge of its politics or personalities. But at the risk of gross generalization, I just want to call attention to the surnames of the people who are calling Myers to account. From this news story:SweeneyVitaleVainieriBuonoMolinelliParentaThese are "Catholic names". I think it's likely that most of these folks have some connection with the Catholic church - they are Catholic themselves, and/or have a Catholic heritage. It seems to me that this might be an instance of the Church - which most certainly includes the laity - holding the hierarchy of the Church accountable.

Here's the Catholic lay person whose voice could actually lead to accountability. So far he is sitting on the fence;http://www.politickernj.com/65363/christie-says-he-talked-archbishop-phone

http://nj1015.com/fr-fugee-furor-will-you-still-donate-to-the-church-poll/Jim Goodness, the archdiocese spokesman, has confirmed that Fugee attended weekend retreats with the St. Marys of Colts Neck youth ministry over the past few years.He insisted Fugees involvement did not violate the agreement with prosecutors, because youth ministry staff were in supervision, but noted that Fugees association was unofficial and unknown by archdiocesan officers until press inquiries about the trips.In other words: First, we didn't know Fr Fugee was ministering at St Mary's, and second, if we did know about it, then it was done according to the legal agreement.

This is a welcome move in Paterson. http://www.northjersey.com/news/Paterson_Diocese_asks_for_reports_on_emb... continue to be encouraged that the bishops of Paterson and Trenton might push for real action here.

"In other words: First, we didnt know Fr Fugee was ministering at St Marys, and second, if we did know about it, then it was done according to the legal agreement."Or in still other words: If we haven't been sued yet over this, we're preparing to be sued, and tailoring our public statements accordingly. This is the Good News according to the apostle's lawyer.Admittedly, this notion of proclaiming the Good News through the medium of one's lawyer is interesting. Here is one possibility:The Disciples and the Sabbath - and the Lawyer23As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.24At this the Pharisees said to him, Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?25He stood aside to let his lawyer speak. And his lawyer said to them, It is not yet proved that it is the sabbath. Nor is it proved that these are my disciples. Nor is it proved that they actually picking the heads of grain. But if these are my disciples and it is the sabbath and they are picking the heads of grain, then it is lawful for these disciples to pick these heads of grain on this sabbath."

From the article to which Jack Marth linked in his most recent comment:"Though he said it certainly is unusual, victims advocate Mark Crawford had a mixed reaction to the Paterson Diocese statement. Crawford said its a sign of progress that the diocese is making a strong effort of reaching out to victims. But he said church officials should encourage people with information about sexual abuse to go straight to investigators in law enforcement agencies. Crawford said he has known priests to have discouraged victims from coming forward by saying they or their families would be embarrassed if the news became public."My view is that people with information about sexual abuse should go to both law enforcement and the church, independently (i.e. don't rely on the church to inform law enforcement; do it directly)*. The reason is that, to do a complete job of removing an abusive cleric, both secular law enforcement and church law enforcement need to take the actions that are appropriate to their spheres of competency. On the part of secular law enforcement agencies, it is to investigate whether any crimes have taken place, and file charges and prosecute the offenders as necessary. On the part of church officials, it is to investigate whether the accusations are credible, and if so, to remove the offender from ministry and initiate the process to have him removed permanently from the clerical state.One of the lessons we've learned from these scandals, in my opinion, is that law enforcement agencies can't always be relied on to completely solve the problem of abusive clerics in ministry. One reason is that they are constrained by such things as statutes of limitations or a lack of evidence that meets their threshold for moving forward with a prosecution. And law enforcement agencies don't always exhibit sound judgment; in my view, the prosecutor who entered into the agreement with Fugee and the archdiocese that left Fugee in public ministry did not serve the people of New Jersey well; it would have been better if Fugee had been retried for (and hopefully convicted of) the criminal charge that the appellate court had vacated. None of this is to excuse the archdiocese, Pretty clearly it dropped the ball, and people are right to distrust its ability to process these cases in the interest of the people it is supposed to be serving. But ultimately, both the secular law enforcement agencies and the diocese are the only games in town for their respective spheres of responsibility. If either or both drops the ball, the remedies are the ones we've seen pursued time and time again: shine the light of publicity on them, and pursue reparations via the courts.* For people who are mandated reporters of the sexual abuse of children - clergy, teachers, health care workers and the like - there is a third set of reporting that must be done, to the agency charged with investigating these crimes.

both secular law enforcement and church law enforcement need to take the actions that are appropriate to their spheres of competency. On the part of secular law enforcement agencies, it is to investigate whether any crimes have taken place, and file charges and prosecute the offenders as necessary. On the part of church officials, it is to investigate whether the accusations are credible, and if so, to remove the offender from ministry and initiate the process to have him removed permanently from the clerical state.Jim, I do not want to defend clergy who have committed sexual abuse. Too many have been able to do it unchecked for a long, long time, and a rigorous, systematic pursuit of crimes is necessary to redress the mentalities. But your comment shows with clarity the unfairness of the procedure. It is the job of secular law enforcement to deal with crimes. That's what police, law and justice are for. Church officials do not have the same qualifications. It secular justice cannot determine that it is probable that a crime has taken place, then neither can church law enforcement. So why should they come and do their own separate assessment? It is not because there are acts that they consider to be sexual abuse and that are not a crime in the eyes of secular justice. Unlike, say, the case of women's ordination, there is no reason for them to do their own police work. In my view their role in such matters is to cooperate with and help secular justice, not to substitute their own version. Otherwise it leads to situations such as Fr Fugee condemned by justice but judged by church officials to be innocent! - until they are pressured by the media, that is, and then they change their mind; or it leads to some priests against which secular justice decides that accusations cannot lead to reasonable evidence, but whom church officials decide to get rid of anyway, under the pressure of the media and out of fear for themselves - hardly the context for a just decision. More like a kangaroo court! (Since statutes of limitations have been revealed, in the case of child sexual abuse, to be an impediment to carrying out justice, we must work at changing them, not substitute a fake church-led "justice" that flaunts all the principles safeguarding the integrity of secular justice.)

Not sure how long it will be there -- but check out the front page of the Trenton Diocese website:http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/Again, Trenton and Paterson are clearly dealing with this in the way the Dallas Charter demands. Striking contrast with Newark where Myers seems more concerned about liability than protecting children:http://www.northjersey.com/columnists/doblin/doblin_051013.html?c=y&page=1

I should have noted that when you click on the "For More Information About Father Michael Fugee..." link on the front page of the Trenton Diocese website, you get a very straightforward summary of the case.http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/page.aspx?pid=1334I was particularly struck by this paragraph:"In 2001, Father Fugee, while serving in Wycoff, was convicted of criminal sexual contact with a minor. That conviction was later overturned on appeal for procedural reasons. Rather than retry the case, authorities offered Father Fugee the opportunity to undergo counseling and rehabilitation and agree to limited ministry that would preclude access to children and youth. In compliance with those restrictions, the Archdiocese had given Father Fugee responsibilities in the Chancery in Newark."Trenton gives a much clearer and honest description of Fugee's legal process regarding the criminal conviction-- "overturned on appeal for procedural reasons". This is a lot different than the misleading characterization out of Newark:"acquittal and final vacating of the charges." (see Gene Palumbo's post of 04/30/2013 - 12:09 pm)

There's also this, on the homepage of the diocese of Paterson:http://www.patersondiocese.org/index.cfm

" It secular justice cannot determine that it is probable that a crime has taken place, then neither can church law enforcement. So why should they come and do their own separate assessment? It is not because there are acts that they consider to be sexual abuse and that are not a crime in the eyes of secular justice."The two entities- secular law enforcement, and the church - have their own separate spheres of competency. The concern of secular law enforcement is to redress the disorder caused to society by crimes, by prosecuting and punishing offenders and protecting potential victims from further crimes. Their responsibility is to society. The job of the church, in this instance, is to ensure that its members are not subjected to abuse, and to protect the integrity of its holy orders, the good name of the church and the church's assets. The latter three are no concern of secular law enforcement but they are important concerns of the church. But the first of these, ensuring that its members are not subjected to abuse, has some overlap with the concerns of secular law enforcement. This is why I think the agreement between the prosecutors and Fugee was a bad idea: it served the goals neither of the state nor the church.I don't consider the two entities and their law enforcement to be substitutes for one another, but rather complements. That they are substitutes is claimed from time to time, but it is, or should be, a fallacy. It is no different than the case of an employee of a secular organization who commits a crime that also violates a company rule - say, he embezzles money from the company. He will be prosecuted by the state for the crime, and his employment will be terminated by the employer. The two actions do not substitute for one another - they complement one another.You mentioned ordination of women as an example of an action that violates church laws but not secular laws. It can work the other way as well: those three Plowshares activists violated secular criminal law but, arguably, not church law. But when an act violates the laws of both entities, it's appropriate and necessary that both entities apply the discipline that is appropriate to their sphere of competency.

Claire, as a follow-on to my previous comment: I note this statement on the homepage of the Paterson diocese, which Gene linked to a couple of comments above:"If anyone has any information about inappropriate behavior on the part of Father Fugee, please notify your County Prosecutor's Office. Please also inform the diocese by contacting Monsignor James T. Mahoney, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia (973-777-8818, ext. 205) or Sister Mary Edward Spohrer, S.C.C., Chancellor (973-777-8818, ext. 248)."This seems to me exactly right: people with information should contact both the prosecutor and the diocese, as two independent actions.

Star Ledger Editorial which denounces Myers' silence and praises O'Connell.http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2013/05/appreciation_for_those_who..."And not all members of the hierarchy treat the problem as casually as Myers has. Trenton Bishop David OConnell acted swiftly to accept the resignation of the Rev. Thomas Triggs, pastor of St. Marys Parish in Colts Neck, whose youth ministers invited the abusive priest, Michael Fugee, to attend youth retreats and other activities with teens in the parish.A diocesan priest, the Rev. John Bambrick, is an advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, has been outspoken about Myers behavior, saying Myers has erased 10 years of hard work by the church in the United States to ensure people are safe.It is gratifying to see Myers silence answered with such conviction. This is not just a church matter. Myers representative signed a legal agreement with prosecutors in Bergen County. Any citizen has a right to object. The politicians who have done so, and the members of the church who have, deserve our gratitude for stepping up on behalf of children."

"It secular justice cannot determine that it is probable that a crime has taken place, then neither can church law enforcement. So why should they come and do their own separate assessment? It is not because there are acts that they consider to be sexual abuse and that are not a crime in the eyes of secular justice"Claire, I may have misunderstood your comment in my previous replies, so let me try again :-). A couple of points:* I'm not sure I agree that the church is incompetent to determine whether a violation has taken place. I believe the theory of a grand jury in secular law enforcement is that average citizens have the capacity to determine this; it doesn't take years of specialized training. And the diocesan review boards tend to be staffed by people with some expertise - in law, in child social work, and so on.* The standards for secular crime may be different than the church's violations. The Dallas Charter's definition of abusive behavior is quite broad - I'd think it encompasses a number of possibilities that wouldn't qualify as clear-cut criminal behavior under secular law. Whether this is good or bad is an interesting topic to consider. But it should be possible to find an accusation credible, under the standards of the Charter, even if it doesn't rise to a crime as defined by secular law. This why it is so troubling that the Newark diocesan review board, as reported by Goodness, found the accusations against Fugee to not be credible. It's extremely difficult to understand how that can be. More information is needed. Perhaps a member of the review board will offer an explanation. This is one of the most worrisome aspects of the case. As things stand now, Fugee is removed from ministry despite, rather than because of, the review board. (Also - happy Mother's Day, to you, Irene, Jean, Mollie, Gerelyn, and all the other moms who hang out here.)

Jim, I've been sitting on your previous comment, not sure how to reply. Think about this: who decides who gets to be on diocesan review boards? Who decides which cases are brought to the attention of the review board? Who decides which documents are given to he board and what information they have to work with? Who ultimately decides on a case? Is the bishop impartial or does he have some skin in the game? What are the safeguards ensuring a modicum of justice? Etc, etc. I think that secular justice does an incomparably better job of balancing everyone's needs for justice and fair treatment.

Claire - I agree that the possibility of gaming the review board process is there - we know it is; reports of it in at least one other diocese has been published on dotCom. More information on Newark's process would be helpful.

The pressure continues to escalate: the NY Times has now picked up the story.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/nyregion/newark-archbishop-is-criticiz...

I was disappointed by the NYTs article. It reads the Memo of Understanding wrong and plays into the original Newark/Catholic League misinterpretation of the MOU. The MOU reads:"shall not assign or otherwise place Michael Fugee in any position within the Archdiocese that allows him to have any unsupervised contact with or to minister to any minor/child under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved. This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD, confessions with children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care."Unsupervised" only modifies contact As to ministering or working, theres nothing about supervision; the prohibition is absolute. No ministry with minors supervised or otherwise period. It is made even more clear from the list of prohibited activities. Will Donohue praise the NYTs for adopting his incorrect reading of the MOU?In the print version of the Times it said Trenton is an Archdiocese. I see that is corrected. What are the chances the Times will correct this much more important mistake? If anyone is interested -- I suggest contacting the public editor to get this corrected.

Bp Myers fires his vicar general, Msgr Doran, and writes a letter to be read in all parishes: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2013/05/myers_newark_archdiocese_is_do...

 

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