Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Catholic Church still covering up child abuse in New Jersey

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New Jersey Archbishop John J. Meyers
Abp. John Meyers
Rev. Michael Fugee (in court in 2007)
Rev. Michael Fugee

The popular excuse by defenders of the Catholic Church is that, sure, there might have been some priestly misconduct around minors, but that all happened decades ago and the Church hierarchy has been really super good about stopping it ever since. Except, of course, when it hasn’t.

Case in point: The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, which is still quietly shuffling child-abusing priests around without doing anything to punish them, much less turn them over to the proper authorities:

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

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. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors.

What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

Tell me again, dear apologists, how “the Catholic Church has the best record of any institution” in dealing with child abuse within its own ranks? Or does that just mean they’re the most experienced at keeping it out of sight while victims continue to suffer in their “care”?

In the end, the Church didn’t need to do anything, as the Internet promptly did the job for them:

The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has resigned from ministry, a spokesman for the archdiocese said tonight.


Fugee, 52, remains a priest but no longer has authority to say Mass, perform sacramental work or represent himself as an active priest, Goodness said. It was not immediately clear if Fugee or Myers would petition the Vatican to remove him from the priesthood altogether, a process known as laicization.

One possible silver lining to the Church’s continuing shielding of child-diddling priests is that it certainly works wonders towards undermining their continued pretenses of possessing any kind of moral high ground. It’s just like with any other vast, crime-ridden institution: the impetus for righting their very many and blatant wrongs comes entirely from public pressure rather than any supposed sense of moral responsibility.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)