On Wednesday, 22 May, eight members of the newly formed action group “Catholic Whistleblowers” met for a news conference in New York. They urged Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to use his considerable influence to get John Myers, Archbishop of Newark, N.J. removed from office.
Myers has been much in the news, over the past month, for allowing a pedophile priest, Michael Fugee, continued access to minors, in violation of an agreement with prosecutors. Archbishop John Myers continues to show contempt for the safety of children in his diocese and still follows a pattern of leniency toward pedophiles, indifference to potential victims, and an arrogant disdain for anyone who dares to question his judgment.
Fr. Michael Fugee, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese with a history of sexual contact with minors, was arrested on Monday, 20 May, for violating a court agreement not to minister to children. According to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office, Fugee was charged with seven counts of contempt of a judicial order.
This past April news reports revealed that Father Fugee, with Myers’ knowledge but no hindrance from Archbishop Myers, had still been ministering to children on youth retreats and trips as well as hearing their confessions. These actions clearly violated a July 2007 agreement between the Bergen County prosecutor and the Newark Archdiocese that restricted Michael Fugee from “any unsupervised contact with or to supervise or minister to any child/minor under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved.” This agreement was drawn up as an alternative to a second trial for Fugee after an appeals court overturned in 2006 an earlier ruling that Fugee had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy on separate occasions in 1999 and 2000. Fugee did admit in 2001 to fondling the genitals of a teenage boy while wrestling with him and was ordered not to work with children. He ignored that order and continued attending weekend youth retreats.
In 2009, Myers had appointed Michael Fugee chaplain at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, without ever telling the hospital about Fugee’s restrictions. Unlike some other bishops, Myers will not release the names of priests who have been credibly accused of abuse.
The steering committee of Catholic Whistleblowers is a group of distinguished American Catholic leaders: Rev. John P. Bambrick (Jackson NJ); Sr. Sally Butler, OP (Brooklyn NY); Sr. Jeanne Christensen, RSM (Kansas City MO); Rev. Patrick Collins, Ph.D. (Douglas MI); Rev. James Connell (Sheboygan WI); Rev. Thomas Doyle, OP (Vienna VA); Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. (West Orange NJ); Rev. Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D. (Morristown NJ); Rev. Ronald D. Lemmert (Peekskill NY); Rev. Bruce N. Teague (Springfield MA); and Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN (New Castle DE). They are to be commended for calling for the immediate removal of Archbishop John Myers from his position as Archbishop of Newark.
In addition to calling for the removal of John Myers, the Catholic Whistleblowers are calling on American Catholic bishops: (1) to support proposed legislation in New York, Wisconsin and elsewhere, that would lift statutes of limitations on sex crimes against children; and (2) to adopt policies, similar to one in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, that protect priests, nuns and other church employees who report child sex abuse or cover-ups to civil authorities.
A spokesperson for Cardinal Dolan said that the Archdiocese of New York has had a policy for years that encourages those with allegations of abuse to report them to civil authorities. He did not respond to questions about Myers.