What is the truth?
Regarding the legal and professional agreement of the service of Michael Fugee, the official position of the Archdiocese of Newark, as of 28 April 2013:
(Archdiocesan spokesperson Jim) Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.
The quoted words of the spokesperson:
We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so.
Another direct quote:
To make the assumption that lay people in authority or priests who know and are friendly with Father Fugee would be less professional or diligent in terms of ensuring the safety of the children they serve seems like an outright attack on the integrity of these individuals.
And the result? Trenton bishop David O’Connell:
The work of the youth ministers at St Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck has been terminated and Father Ton Triggs has offered his resignation as pastor to me this morning in a meeting I had with him at the parish. I have accepted his resignation, effective immediately, and have given Tom a sabbatical.
The official statement of the Archdiocese of Newark, as of 3 May 2013:
Neither Archbishop Myers nor others in the leadership of the Archdiocese gave Fr. Fugee permission to work in any ministry other than those ministries that were physically located within the Archdiocesan Center. He did not seek, nor would he have been granted, permission to engage in activities involving minors either through the Archdiocese or at any other diocese in the state. He failed to follow established procedures and protocols in place among all of the dioceses in the state designed to prevent unauthorized ministries.
So which is it? Are chancery paper-pushers and muckety mucks scrambling to make sure they don’t follow three St Mary’s staff members down the drain?
Clearly, the supervision wasn’t so close or careful, as the Newark office has done a total one-eighty on this, leaving Bill Donohue twisting in the wind. Maybe they just didn’t know. Or maybe they underestimated the effects of a combination of investigative journalism and parental outrage.
I’ll tell you: I have enough parental issues with my former bishop and my daughter’s former favorite priest. I’ve seen the damage done to the teenager I love the most in the world. No parent wants to see their child go through that sort of disillusionment.
I thank God for a good Confirmation process in my parish, for the thoughtful programming, and the outstanding sponsor the young miss chose. We had a few obstacles to overcome just getting her on the first retreat. I certainly wasn’t in a position to insist she get confirmed. And my wife and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye on it, either.
You readers will pardon (I hope) my own struggle with these continuing issues with bishops. As long as this bone-headedness continues, I will continue to harp on them and their antigospel antics. These are good men, I am sure. Good men who, in the attempt to do good, have done grave harm to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the kerygmatic and sacramental ministries that power his Church.
Archbishop Myers needs to ‘fess up fully. Tell the whole truth. Be an example of contrition and personal honesty. Be a man about it. Resist every urge to blame someone else for these troubles. Realize that three people outside of his diocese have lost their jobs over this lapse in moral judgment. Check his own conscience about that, and the pay check he draws and the pension he will draw as a member of the clergy. Resign or not–I really don’t care. But it’s time to man up.
Tell us all the truth.