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04 February 2013

It's time for Newark Archbishop Myers to be removed

The Canessa Commentary
By Kevin Canessa Jr.

After the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released the files of more than 150 priests accused of sexual abuse, I sifted through about 20 of them. I couldn’t help but wonder whether any lessons were learned by Roger Cardinal Mahoney’s decades of inaction, covering up for priests, trying to avoid the police and more.

And then, I turned to The Star-Ledger on Sunday — on — and read the absolutely unbelievable. 

The Rev. Michael Fugee, accused and admitted child groper, was being appointed to a prestigious archdiocesan position — one that will oversee the formation and educational opportunities afforded seminarians.

In 2001, he told police he inappropriately grabbed the crotch of a boy while in a Bergen County parish. 

He was convicted in a court of law — found guilty — but because of a technicality, the conviction was overturned. 

But let’s make no mistake here — the man admitted his guilt. And no technicality could or will ever negate that reality. He admitted to a “moment of arousal” when he touched the genitals of a pre-pubescent teenage boy.

As part of his agreement with the courts — didn’t matter his conviction was overturned — he is required to have no contact, none whatsoever, with children.

This all came down in 2001.

And yet, it’s obvious the Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, seems to have forgotten that. And he’s forgotten this priest, regardless of what the courts say, is a predatory monster.

Fast-forward to 2009. He was assigned to a hospital as a chaplain.

What a shocker here — Myers never told the hospital admins.

It wasn’t until someone told the hospital powers-that-be that Fugee was removed from the chaplaincy.

Lest we forget — there are children in hospitals, and is there any doubt that he had contact with kids while working there?

And now this. A prestigious archdiocesan position.

It may not require him to have contact with kids, but for the love of God, could Myers, who appointed Fugee to this position, be more tone deaf? Could he be more arrogant? Could he, frankly, be any more stupid?

Here’s what Myers said with this appointment without actually saying it: “So what if one of our priests touches boys. We’ll just give him a promotion of sorts and put him in a position of honor.”

It’s as disgusting as anything Myers has done in his 12-year reign of terror as Newark’s archbishop. And I simply don’t have the time to list them here — it would take hundreds of pages and hours to write them all.

But it simply confirmed something I knew the day we learned he’d replace the last archbishop, the now-retired Theodore Cardinal McCarrick — and that is that Myers has no business running a dollar store, let alone a flock of around 1 million Catholics.

Not only should Fugee immediately be removed from this position, it’s time for Myers to go, too. For far too long, he’s ruined everything he’s touched. He’s mismanaged the priest-abuse scandal here — and, for that matter, in Peoria, Ill., his former diocese — in as bad a manner as Mahony has in Los Angeles.

He’s never really wanted to be in Newark, and quite frankly, this writer never wanted him here either. And yet, he’s lasted, shockingly, as long as he has.

Pick up the pen, Myers. Write the letter to the holy father. Tell him you’re ready to leave the archdiocese.

And do it now.

Because if you don’t, lord knows how many more lives — and families — you’ll ruin.

You’ve had too many chances to do that already.

And if past history — recent history — says anything, there’s no doubt you’ll strike again with something stupid, inane and outrageous. 

Sooner than later.

Click here to read Fugee's statement to police from 2001.


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