Monday, June 3, 2013

Editorial: Newark shows need for Transparency

Five people have resigned in New Jersey in the wake of revelations that a priest who was supposedly on a supervised lifetime ban from ministering to minors was indeed ministering to youth and wasn't being monitored. Fr. Michael Fugee is out on bail after his arrest for violating terms of an agreement he signed with the local county prosecutor when investigators found that he had been attending youth group events, including an overnight pilgrimage to Canada.

Fugee had confessed to groping a 14-year-old boy, and a jury had convicted him of sexual assault in 2003. That conviction was overturned on a technicality, and Fugee entered into the agreement with the prosecutor to avoid a retrial.

As the local newspaper, The Star-Ledger, revealed all this, Fugee resigned his assignment in the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. The pastor and two lay ministers who had invited Fugee to help with youth ministry resigned their positions. Now "as a result of operational failures," the vicar general, Msgr. John Doran, "has resigned his post and will no longer hold a leadership position with the Archdiocese," said a letter that Newark Archbishop John Myers sent to pastors to read at Mass Memorial Day weekend. "The strong protocols we presently have in place [to handle cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy] were not always observed," Myers wrote.

This chain of events raises serious questions about accountability and transparency in Newark.

NEW JERSEY

National Catholic Reporter

NCR Editorial Staff | Jun. 1, 2013