BOSTON, Mass., May 8, 2013 – The Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark has allowed an admitted child molester to continue contact with young people, and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® expects Pope Francis to “act decisively” as he said last week the Church must do in cases of clergy sexual abuse. Acting decisively should include holding accountable any bishop who fails to act responsibly in sex abuse cases. The question here: Will Pope Francis hold the archbishop accountable?
A New Jersey newspaper reported Apr. 28 that Newark Archbishop John Myers allowed a priest who had admitted groping a boy to continue working with children. This violated an agreement that barred the priest from ministering to children or holding any position involving children. The priest, Rev. Michael Fugee, has since resigned.
In addition to violating a probation agreement made by the diocese, Archbishop Myers appears to have violated the Church’s own canon laws. Voice of the Faithful® supports the position of Wisconsin priest and canon lawyer Rev. James Connell, who last week called for a Vatican investigation of this matter. In a letter to Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees clergy sexual abuse cases, Connell worte that, by allowing Rev. Michael Fugee to continue in ministry, Myers may have violated the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, which has the force of canon law.
Voice of the Faithful® expects the Vatican to act on Connell’s request and for Pope Francis to initiate an investigation if the CDF fails to act and to make all proceedings public.
The Vatican has been aware of clergy sexual abuse for centuries, was presented a detailed report in the mid-1980s and has faced worldwide publicity since 2002. In the past year, a monsignor and a bishop have been convicted for their involvement in the scandal and other bishops have been named in grand jury reports. Within the past month, the disclosure of tens of thousands of pages of secret documents has caused the current archbishop of Los Angeles to curtail the former archbishop’s public appearances. Similar disclosures have prompted a government inquiry in Australia, which started last week. This past weekend, an Ugandan priest forced the Church in Africa to confront clergy sexual abuse, which the hierarchy and conservative Church interests there have kept secret.
Voice of the Faithful®:
Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is available on our website