May 25, 2013

The Buck Stops Where?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, NJ, has penned a letter about yet another resignation tied to the Fugee scandal, previously discussed here and here. Sadly, it's still not his own.

The seriousness of the situation with Father Fugee required a thoughtful and effective response. Appointing a new vicar general will be just one step in a comprehensive plan to review and, where necessary, strengthen our internal protocols and ensure we are doing everything we can to safeguard the children of our community.

So, effective immediately, the vicar general, Monsignor John E. Doran, has resigned his post and will no longer hold a leadership position with the archdiocese. As a result of operational failures, both Monsignor Doran and I felt that the archdiocese would be best served by his stepping down as vicar general. This action clears the way for making more effective changes in our monitoring function. I am transferring that function to the Office of the Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese.

What follows is a lot of we're not perfect and we want to do better. Our "very strict protocols" just weren't followed... in this case... for some reason. All of which ignores one very important point. It's not just that Fugee violated the memorandum of understanding that barred him from contact with minors. Under the rules of the Dallas Charter, he shouldn't have been in active ministry at all. But it was Myers and his spokesman Jim Goodness who repeatedly misrepresented the facts of the case.

In a Feb. 7 letter to his diocesan priests, made public by the Star-Ledger in April,  Myers defended the archdiocese’s implementation of the charter, after local media reported in February that Fugee had been appointed co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests.

“These claims are baseless,” the archbishop said in reference to the criticism that the appointment indicated a lax application of the Dallas Charter.

. . .

In the May 26 letter to parishioners, Myers refrains from commenting on Fugee himself beyond referring to the “seriousness of the situation with Father Fugee.” He offered a stronger defense of the priest three months earlier in the letter to his priests, describing Fugee’s case status as both “acquittal and dismissal of charges.”

That description was not accurate, a spokeswoman for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office told NCR in early May.

“He [Fugee] wasn’t acquitted. ... The decision had been appealed, and it was reversed,” Maureen Parenta said. “They called for a retrial, so rather than going through another trial, our office had proposed the memo of understanding and that’s how this was resolved.”

That's a lot of apologia and rewriting of history for one little archbishop. I'm really starting to think some of these bishops are allergic to taking responsibility for anything. You'd think that giant mitre would rest a little heavier on the head.

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