A recent ruling from Pope Benedict XVI, which was confirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), dismissed one of Life Teen’s founders from his clerical state following an investigation into charges of sexual abuse of minors.
Msgr. Dale Fushek had been a pastor at an Arizona parish as well as vicar general of the Diocese of Phoenix.
However, Fushek came under scrutiny after several accusations of sexual abuse against minors were lodged with the diocese, which were then forwarded to the Holy See.
According to a Feb. 16 statement from the diocese, “The Holy See then directed the Diocese of Phoenix to conduct an investigation into the allegations. The results of that investigation were forwarded to the CDF. Based on the CDF’s review of the findings of that investigation and on Fushek’s abandonment of his ministry and his subsequent schismatic acts, the CDF issued the 'Decree of Dismissal' and forwarded it to the Diocese of Phoenix.
“Fushek has been notified of the laicization, which took effect the moment the Decree was signed, and he has been informed of its consequences,” the diocese added.
The Arizona diocese also made clear that the penalties being imposed on Fushek are not connected to any civil proceedings or rulings but are purely Church-related.
Fushek’s laicization means he can no longer refer to himself as “father,” “reverend,” or “monsignor.” He is also not bound to the duties and obligations of the priesthood.
In turn, the diocese in which he resides is not obligated to provide services to him, such as lodging, pay and health insurance. Fushek is also prohibited from celebrating the sacraments, except in the case of someone who is in danger of death.
Fushek’s laicization comes in wake of his 2008 excommunication, which remains in force.
Fushek was suspended from his duties in 2004 by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and subsequently resigned as pastor in 2005. However, he proceeded to co-found the non-denominational Praise and Worship Center with Father Mark Dippre. The Praise and Worship Center meets Sundays at the Fiesta Fountains Recreation Center in Mesa, Ariz. Dippre and Fushek have repeatedly said their services should not be considered “Catholic” in any way. However, the 10 a.m. meeting time conflicts with many Catholic Masses.
When the diocese asked Dippre and Fuschek to cease their activities at the Praise and Worship Center, the two men declined. This incurred excommunication for having disobediently established an "opposing ecclesial community."
According to the Catholic Sun, the Diocese of Phoenix hopes Fushek will “cease all public ministries and seek to transition into a new mode of life and work.”
The faithful were also reminded by the diocese that participating in and promoting the activities of the Praise and Worship Center can be spiritually harmful and cause rupture within the Catholic communion.