Loading
Newark archdiocese stands by ministry of priest accused of sex abuse
By Carl Bunderson
Newark archdiocese stands by ministry of priest accused of sex abuse

.- The Archdiocese of Newark affirmed its decision to allow a priest accused of abusing a minor to remain in ministry, stressing that they are complying with authorities and prohibiting any interaction alone with children.

“We have not received any complaints from the prosecutor's office...since Father has been back in ministry,” said Jim Goodness, the archdiocesan communications director.

“We're doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing,” he told CNA on Feb. 5.

On Nov. 21, the Catholic Advocate – the archdiocesan newspaper – announced that Father Michael Fugee had been appointed co-director of the office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. He had been, and remains, director of the Office of the Propagation of the Faith. Both are positions at the Newark chancery.

On Feb. 3, the Star-Ledger ran a story about the appointment, calling it a “high-profile position.”

Goodness contested that characterization, saying, “it certainly is not a prestigious assignment...Father simply has to send out emails and notices to the priests in the diocese talking about this or that seminar or workshop if they want to take advantage of it, that's it.”

In 2001, Fr. Fugee was charged with criminal sexual contact and endangering a child's welfare.

The priest told police he had twice groped a teenage boy's crotch while they were wrestling in the presence of the boy's family members. One instance took place while he was on vacation with the boy's family in Virginia in 2000, he said, and the other was about a year prior to that.

During his 2003 trial, Fr. Fugee protested that his confession to the police was false and that he had lied. The jury convicted him of aggravated sexual contact.

Fr. Fugee appealed the decision, and in 2006, an appellate court reversed his conviction, saying that the trial court had given inadequate guidance to the jury. Goodness said that “there was no basis for those original verdicts.”

The priest was supposed to go on trial again, but he came to an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor and the Archdiocese of Newark's vicar general requiring him to undergo two years of “sex-offender specific counseling/therapy.”

That 2007 agreement allowed Fr. Fugee to remain in ministry so long as “he shall not have any unsupervised contact with or any duties that call for the supervision/ministry of any child or children under the age of 18...as long as he is a priest and/or employed/assigned within the Roman Catholic Church.”

In 2009, after Fr. Fugee completed his sex-offender counseling, the prosecutors dismissed the case against him.

“We have not received any complaints from the prosecutor's office, who gave us the original memorandum since Father has been back in ministry. He does not have unsupervised contact with children or youth, that's very clear,” Goodness said.

“This particular assignment, it’s within the office, so there’s really no exposure at that point,” he explained.

“(W)e are doing exactly what the authorities said we could do,” he stressed. “They made the suggestion that return to ministry could be on a certain basis, and we followed those through.”

He added that the diocese is “extremely puzzled” about the criticism and doesn’t know “what to do any further than what we are doing to comply.”

Goodness pointed out that the Newark archdiocese has cooperated with authorities and that this “isn't a situation in which we have tried to get anything by anybody or slip anything under the rug.”

He said the review board of the archdiocese had reviewed Fr. Fugee's case, and “agreed that Father could...return to ministry under those criteria.”

“Also, it's important to know that the entire case was forwarded to Rome,” he said. “Rome reviewed everything, and said everything was done appropriately, and they were comfortable with Father returning.”

Fr. Fugee, having completed his therapy, is “allowed to say Mass anywhere in the diocese,” Goodness continued.

“He's just not supposed to be in an unsupervised setting with children. But saying Mass on Sunday in a parish, there are a lot of adults around.”

“He's not doing religious education classes, he's not going to schools, he's not involved with...youth ministry or anything like that,” he explained. “But all the other things in a parish setting are entirely possible, because you're there as the entire community, so that there is always the presence of other people.”

Tags: Priest


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: