Newark archbishop goes to the mattresses
Doblin: Newark archbishop goes to the mattresses
By ALFRED P. DOBLIN
RECORD EDITORIAL COLUMNIST
Alfred P. Doblin is the editorial page editor of The Record. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow AlfredPDoblin on Twitter.
NEWARK Archbishop John J. Myers is going to the mattresses. The archdiocese has hired Michael Critchley, a criminal defense lawyer who famously got Michael “Mad Dog” Taccetta, a member of the Lucchese crime family, an acquittal back in the 1980s. Showtime’s “The Borgias” should move its shooting location to Newark.
Myers is under fire because the archdiocese allowed the Rev. Michael Fugee to participate in youth events despite both Fugee and the archdiocese entering into an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office barring Fugee from such contact.
The priest, who resigned last week, had been convicted of groping a minor, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality. Rather than face a new trial, Fugee made a deal with prosecutors and part of that deal was no unsupervised contact with children and no ministering to children.
However, Fugee went on youth retreats and had one-on-one contact with children in the Newark archdiocese, as well as in dioceses outside of Newark, without the consent of those bishops. The Newark archdiocese has continued to claim it has done nothing wrong.
This would be just reprehensible if it occurred in the private sector; it is something baser, something more vile happening in the Roman Catholic Church. This institutional arrogance was at the heart of the national scandal of priests sexually abusing minors for decades while church officials did nothing to stop it, in many cases enabling the abuse. High-ranking clergy closed their ranks around predators, all to save the face of the institution rather than protect children. Actually, it was less about saving face and more about saving money. Predators are costly.
Yes, they are. They cost children their innocence, something that should be more sacred than the millions of dollars of church funds that have been pouring out like foul-scented sweat to compensate for decades of damage.
For an archdiocese that claims no wrongdoing, Newark’s hiring of a lawyer who can get a reputed mobster an acquittal says much. It says the archdiocese is nervous it may be criminally culpable. Well, cleaning up the Catholic Church is no different than cleaning up wharves along the waterfront. Unless the bad people go to prison, nothing changes.
That is why state Sen. Barbara Buono’s recent call for Myers’ resignation is pointless. The likely Democratic nominee for governor has been joined by Senate President Stephen Sweeney in demanding that Myers resign. Lamentations are so Old Testament; these are modern times. Bishops do not care what politicians say about morality. If Buono and Sweeney want to get Myers’ attention, they would be better off introducing a bill taxing church property. Myers would respond to that.
Fugee has a right to a good defense lawyer and so does the archdiocese; that is the promise of the American judicial system. The money to pay for that defense comes from the pews – indirectly, perhaps, but money used to pay for legal fees could have paid for charity work, for education, for ministering to the disenfranchised. Instead that money goes to pay for a legal defense of actions that are morally not defendable. In 2012, U.S. dioceses paid out $35,341,740 just in attorneys fees for sexual abuse cases.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is reportedly following the doings in the Newark archdiocese. That sounds good, but inside the Church it means little. Dolan, while prominent, has no authority over a New Jersey archbishop. The only way Myers will be removed is by action from Rome.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which Dolan is the current president, has been mum on Myers and Fugee. In the wake of the clerical sex scandal, the U.S. bishops created the so-called Dallas Charter that calls for zero tolerance in any credible case of sexual abuse. The annual compliance audit of the charter was released Wednesday. It cites great successes in educating dioceses on how to prevent future abuse. It also notes a critical limitation with the auditing process: the unwillingness of most dioceses to allow these independent observers to conduct onsite parish audits. Instead, they must rely solely on information provided by the diocese. The foxes are not only still guarding the hen house, they are writing the monthly newsletter as well.
Myers clearly ignored the intent of the charter, but there is no statement of condemnation by the conference, even though the conference is not silent when it matters to the conference. On Tuesday, Delaware legalized same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the bishops’ conference issued a release decrying a “serious injustice in Delaware.” It took less than 24 hours for a reaction.
The bishop who heads this particular subcommittee wrote, “Our society either preserves laws that respect the fundamental right of children to be raised by their moms and dads together in marriage, or it does not.”
What about: Our society either preserves laws that respect the fundamental right of children not to be put at risk by potential sexual predators, or it does not.
U.S. bishops are not shy criticizing public and government policy it views as wrong, but when it comes to admonishing their own, the men are as silent as a convent of cloistered Carmelite nuns. There should be universal outrage.
Instead of calling for forgiveness for failing to put children’s safety above a priest’s assignment, Myers called a lawyer. By all accounts, Critchley is the attorney to hire if you want an acquittal, but even someone as skilled as he cannot get Myers absolution.
Posted on May 10, 2013, in Archbishop John J. Myers, Archdiocese of Newark, Bill Donohue, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Catholic League, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Dallas Charter, Father Michael Fugee, Pope Benedict, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse, Uncategorized, Vatican, William A Donohue and tagged Alfred P. Doblin, Archbishop John J. Myers, Archdiocese of Newark, Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Bill Donohue, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, child abuse, child molestation, child sex abuse, clergy abuse, crimes against children, Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Critchley, Dallas Charter, Father Michael Fugee, Lucchese crime family, Michael “Mad Dog” Taccetta, NEWARK Archbishop John J. Myers, priest abuse, priest rape, priest sex abuse, religion, roman catholic church, roman catholic church sex scandal, roman catholic clergy, roman catholics, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Barbara Buono, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, William A Donohue. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.