More Myers and Fugee

Interesting developments in New Jersey. RNS recounts it as Fugee out, Myers still in.

The full piece is in

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 the resignation, Goodness said.

Mr Goodness also conceded:

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.

Bill Donohue might consider that “all” of Michael Fugee’s activities were “in conflict.” That’s all of them.

It’s not going to be enough for this priest’s resignation to satisfy. Archbishop Myers, regardless of how Mr Donohue spins the situation, failed in his moral duty to protect innocent persons from very real harm that a sex addict can deliver–a person who concedes one of the main features of an addict’s manifesto, “I am above the rules.”

Did the archdiocese and its bishop know? We don’t know that. If John Myers knew, he owes his flock and the rest of the Church a public confession and apology. Anything less will taint his ministry for a few more years. It will also heap a bit more suspicion on his brother bishops, as Michael Fugee’s antics have stained his diocese. There is no escape from this. None.

There is a reason why sex predators must be dealt with strongly. And I’m sure that from within the clerical subculture, it seems harsh.

Mark Crawford of SNAP:

Father Fugee should have been fired and removed from ministry by Archbishop Myers years ago, not simply allowed to resign today.

This is right. Michael Fugee, despite his past crimes and sins, showed a measure of self-sacrifice by giving up a ministry that I presume was meaningful to him.

More from Mr Crawford:

If the Archbishop went to such great lengths to protect Father Fugee, then it’s likely he may be protecting others. He has failed to be transparent, open and honest, and for that Archbishop Myers must step down.

The archbishop may well be gravely co-dependent. By this I mean he may possess a personality that aligns with addicts in his life–family, friends, clergy, whomever. His resistance is suspect. He may have been seriously groomed by his clergy, and he may well be unaware of it. Abusers will groom allies to help and support them in their efforts to prey on victims. This grooming is no less serious than the grooming of victims, and becomes part of the addict’s defense. Consider the way the story from the archdiocese has shifted over the past few days. On Monday, Michael Fugee was being properly supervised on those youth events. And now those same implied activities are “not approved.” This is part of the shifting ground of truth and lie that addicts and their co-dependents weave when they are confronted by the truth.

Must Archbishop Myers step down? He remains the best man to respond to that.

If he is a co-dependent or if he is at all unsure, one possible route would be to get into Al-Anon or CoDA and do two things. Acquaint himself with the world of addiction and how insidious its tentacles can be. Check his experience with people he can trust: other recovering individuals who have enabled the pathological behavior of addicts in their lives. Only the archbishop can settle that matter.

My own sense is that for the good of the Catholic Church in Newark, the best course may well be to step down. But if he’s got a better idea, let him go for it. I do know that continued silence and stonewalling is not going to help anyone. It certainly will not further the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the counties of Essex, Union, Hudson and Bergen.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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