Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bill Donohue Offers Detailed Defense of Archbishop Myers

On Monday we posted a story from the Newark Star-Ledger entitled "Newark archbishop allows priest who admitted groping boy to continue working with children." Today Bill Donohue has released an extensive report in defense of Archbishop John J. Myers. The report is below.

Catholic League
Bill Donohue
May 2013
On April 28, an editorial in the Newark Star-Ledger called on Newark Archbishop John J. Myers to resign. There should be a resignation, but it should not be limited to one person: the entire editorial board of the newspaper should resign immediately.
The occasion of the editorial is the alleged failure of the Newark Archdiocese to police Father Michael Fugee. In 2001, he was charged with groping a teenager while wrestling. After initially being found guilty, the verdict was overthrown by an appellate panel of judges. Fugee agreed to certain conditions, which the newspaper says have been violated. The Star-Ledger wants Archbishop Myers to resign because he allegedly did not hold Fugee to the terms of the agreement. As will soon be disclosed, this accusation is patently false.
Accompanying the editorial was a front-page story on Father Fugee. The Sunday article, which ran over 2,000 words, recounted various aspects of this issue. It did not mention, however, that in addition to being cleared by the civil courts, the archdiocesan review board cleared Fugee of any wrongdoing. Nor did it mention that the case was sent to Rome for review; no charges were brought against him. In other words, Fugee’s case was thrice thrown out. Also, the newspaper failed to mention that there has not been one allegation made against this priest in the past 12 years. So why is the Star-Ledger going ballistic?
The following two paragraphs from the editorial explain the basis of its complaint:
         “Part of the [court] deal was an agreement that Fugee signed, along with the archdiocese, committing all parties to keeping Fugee away from minors. Fugee was not to work in any position involving children, or have any affiliation with youth groups. He could not attend youth retreats, or even hear the confession of minors.
         “With the full knowledge and approval of Myers, Fugee did all of those things. Look at the picture of him clowning around with children [whose faces were obscured] in today’s paper, and it makes you want to scream a warning. The agreement was designed to prevent exactly that.”
Sounds ominous. But it is a lie. The editorial board intentionally distorted the agreement so it could make its case to hound Archbishop Myers out of office. It also smeared Fugee by suggesting that children are not safe in his company. Here is exactly what the agreement said:
         “It is agreed and understood that the Archdiocese shall not assign or otherwise place Michael Fugee in any position within the Archdiocese that allows him to have any unsupervised contact with or to supervise or minister to any minor/child under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved.” (My italics.) [Note: In the next paragraph, the identical language is used to hold Father Fugee to these terms.]
In other words, the court agreement expressly allowed Father Fugee to have contact with minors, provided he was supervised. Nothing in either the news story or the editorial even suggests that Fugee was at any time unsupervised in his contacts with minors. If the Star-Ledger had such evidence, it would have said so.
The news story is equally deceitful. At one point it comes clean by saying that the agreement “explicitly” mentions that “Fugee may not have unsupervised contact with children,” but then it immediately maintains that this is a rebuttable proposition. Referring to Archbishop Myers’ spokesman, Jim Goodness, it says that “Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions of the agreement.” (My emphasis.)
Now, all of a sudden, the plain words of the agreement are seen as open to interpretation. But if the agreement says Fugee was not supposed to have unsupervised contact, what other plausible interpretation is there? The newspaper would have the reader believe that the agreement is ambiguous about this condition, when, of course, it is not.
The Star-Ledger makes the point that Father Fugee occasionally traveled outside his diocese. So what? Does it have evidence that he was without supervision? It cites his work in a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s in Colts Neck, as a case in point. He was invited there by longtime friends and, more important, the church’s pastor, Father Thomas Triggs, knew of Fugee’s agreement with the prosecutor and made sure that he was supervised. In short, the agreement was not violated.
What is really going on here is an attempt to sunder Archbishop Myers—Fugee is not the man they want. They want Myers, and that is because they detest what he stands for.
The first editorial on Archbishop Myers was published by the Star-Ledger on April 17, 2002; it took him to task for his views on how best to handle allegations of sexual abuse. It said he “apparently still believes the church ought to decide first who is suspect before notifying civil authorities.” Let’s hope he always does.
Several years ago I was confronted by a female reporter in my office who challenged me on this very issue. She wanted to know why allegations against a priest were not made instantly available on the diocesan website. When I asked her for her boss’ phone number, she balked, wanting to know why. I told her that I was prepared to accuse her of sexually harassing me in my office and would demand that her name be posted on the media outlet’s website. She got the point.
Does the Star-Ledger get the point? Apparently not: it wants every bishop to call 911 whenever an accusation is made, no matter how baseless it is. This is its idea of justice—for priests.
In 2003, Archbishop Myers released a set of strict procedures and guidelines that affected every employee in the archdiocese. The “Archdiocese of Newark Policies on Professional and Ministerial Conduct” was a comprehensive code of conduct that should have been welcomed by everyone, including critics of the Catholic Church. Instead, the newspaper made fun of it.
The October 8, 2003 editorial in the Star-Ledger provided a good window into the paper’s thinking. John McLaughlin mocked the idea of finding “immoral behavior” offensive, commenting this must mean “no abortions or participation in abortions, euthanasia and homicide.” (Why he objects to punishing murderers he did not say.) He also wanted to know why non-Catholics, who voluntarily agreed to work in the archdiocese, had to abide by these standards. So much for institutional autonomy.
In fact, Myers’ autonomy is a problem for the newspaper. To wit: on May 7, 2004, it took him to task for saying that pro-abortion politicians should refrain from receiving Communion. Does the Star-Ledger think it has the right to police Myers, or that he should check in with them before making house rules? If Myers told the newspaper that it should vet all internal policies by him before making them final, they would go off the deep end.
In the last election, the Star-Ledger endorsed President Obama, supported gay marriage, ridiculed the “war on religion,” and took umbrage at Myers for encouraging Catholics to defend “marriage and life.” These sentiments are held dear by the editorial page editor, Tom Moran, an angry ex-Catholic. Three years ago he said he cut his “emotional ties to the church long ago.” If only he would.
Not surprisingly, the groups cited by the Star-Ledger who are upset with Archbishop Myers are all dissidents. Consider Theresa Padovano, who heads Voice of the Faithful in New Jersey. Voice is described as a “lay reform group.” In fact, it is a small collection of elderly Catholics and ex-Catholics who are at war with the Church over many issues.
Voice supports discriminatory legislation that exclusively targets the Catholic Church: it wants laws that suspend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases involving minors, but never pushes for public institutions to be held accountable to the same standard. In Connecticut, it actually sided with those lawmakers who wanted to take over the administrative structure of the parishes. Indeed, it crafted a strategic plan to do just this, thus showing what it thinks about separation of church and state. It lost in its bid to strip the Catholic Church of its First Amendment rights, but it was not for lack of trying. By the way, Theresa Padavano is an ex-nun activist married to Anthony Padavano, an ex-priest activist who is also at odds with Catholicism.
The next group cited is the New Jersey chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). It is labeled “a national advocacy and support group.” What it advocates is a war on the Catholic Church and what it supports is unlicensed counseling of alleged abuse victims. To be specific, the national leader, David Clohessy, has testified under oath that he has intentionally lied to the media about his work, and has offered numerous counseling sessions in Starbucks, without a license. At a conference attended by Catholic League allies, he bragged how important it is to manipulate the media with pictures of children. He also refused to contact the authorities after he learned that his own brother was a sexual predator, thus violating the very standard he says bishops fail to respect.
Last year, Voice joined with SNAP to protest the “House of Worship Protection Act” in Kansas. Represented by the ACLU, they challenged a law that would prohibit the intentional disruption of services in a house of worship, something the Brown Shirts were known to do. They lost, but their effort to destroy freedom of religion remains one of their low points.
The third group,, is branded by the newspaper as a “watchdog group.” Attack dog would be more accurate. It posts the names of accused priests on its website, admitting that it “does not confirm the veracity of any actual allegation.” The head of this group, Terence McKiernan, boasted to a SNAP audience, “I hope we can find ways of sticking it to this man.” The man he wants to “stick it to” is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Without any evidence, McKiernan told the crowd of Catholic bashers that Dolan was “keeping the lid on 55 names.” To this day, McKiernan has never disclosed the names of these priests. He knows it’s a lie.
If the Star-Ledger were honestly concerned about the sexual abuse of minors, it wouldn’t play favorites with the public schools. But it does. In 2000, a public school teacher in Teaneck, New Jersey, James Darden, was charged with sexually abusing a minor. The teenage girl contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and eventually Darden pled guilty.
The victim then filed a one-count complaint against Darden, and the Board of Education, and others, arguing they were liable under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act (CSAA). She lost in 2011. That is because the law was conveniently written to apply only to schools which stand in loco parentis to the student, and the appellate court held that the public school in that case could not be sued under CSAA because the in loco parentis test was not made.
And what did the Star-Ledger say about this? Nothing. Not only was there no editorial, there was no news story. If this had been a Catholic school that was able to skirt justice, the newspaper would have unloaded with both barrels.
At bottom, the Star-Ledger has unfairly maligned Archbishop Myers, and has treated Father Fugee like a political football. If Myers strapped a GPS tracking device on Fugee’s body, it wouldn’t satisfy the newspaper’s craving for punitive action. For these reasons, the editorial board should resign with dispatch. The members are a disgrace to the profession of journalism. 


  1. I don't think it is as clear cut as Donohue wants it to be. The agreement states:

    It is agreed and understood that the Archdiocese shall not assign or otherwise place Michael Fugee in any position within the Archdiocese that allows him to have any unsupervised contact with or to supervise or minister to any minor/child under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved.

    My initial reading of that is that Fr. Fugee can't have unsupervised contact with children, or at any time supervise or minister to children, or work in any position in which children are involved. In other words, the "unsupervised" only relates to the "contact", not the "minister" or "supervise" or "work in any position." So by that reading, Fr. Fugee clearly broke the agreement with the knowledge of the Archdiocese.

    It is possible that the Archdiocese (and Fr. Fugee) sincerely read the agreement differently, but it seems that they should have erred on the side of caution in such a situation.

    1. Nicely put. Donohue defends the indefensible. He does more harm than good.

  2. I'm sure that Archbishop Myers discussed all the ramifications of this agreement with the authorities before agreeing to its terms and signing it. It is exactly HOW the diocese and the courts concurred on the precise meaning of these terms that matters, not on how the Star-Ledger interprets them. If the courts are satisfied that Archbishop Myers has not broken any clause in the agreement, the S-L should keep its nose out of any such business that does not concern it.

  3. I was in the process of making a 50K gift to the Arch. of Newark for scholarship aid to Catholic Schools. I will resind my gift until Arch. Myers is no longer affiliated with Newark.

  4. When or when will these depressing stories cease? God, it's just so awful. What is the cause of the rot? The devil?

  5. Do not under estimate the work of Satan. What better way to tear down the holy Catholic Church than by attacking its priests? He works hard at it because ruining a priest is a huge success for him even if it is by false accusations. Just look at all the hate he stirs up. He hates whatever is precious to God. Humans are precious to God...

    1. Any possability that Satan has entered the spirit of the "damaged" priests and we need to remove them before satan does more damage???

  6. It's all Satan. Priestly celibacy, an all male environment, and the availability of pubescent boys had nothing to do with it.

  7. Dear Anonymous (May 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    You are implying that the Archbishop of Newark can be influenced by your change of mind concerning a potential donation to the Archdiocesan Scholarship Fund. Just think the "field day" that the Newark Star Ledger would have if the Archbishop complied with your request. Imagine this headline appearing in the Newark Star Ledger, "It took $50,000. dollars to get Bishop Myers to resign. Also, think about it, your intention not to donate at this time could derail archdiocesan plans to hire excellent teachers to help struggling minority students to be educated in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, one in which their chances of being accidently shot or unduly influenced to take drugs by their peers, will no longer be available to them--surly, that is not your attention.

    I hope you have not been influenced by the "pay, stay, and obey" crowd who say they have left the Church because the Church has no regard for them or their values. Generally they want the Church to be Church on their own terms. They often times embrace the position that abortion is a moral decision; some deny the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and still others believe that in sexual matters people should do their own thing--men and women are to be used as objects for their own pleasure, the Church should stay out of the bedroom. Many of these people still, at some level, love the Church, but they are plagued with guilt because they have willfully excluded themselves from membership, and have become "self hating Catholics" They focus that hatred on the Church and use venues such as the Newark Star Ledger as a vehicle to express their discomfort. Dear Anonymous, I am sure if you were the head of a corporation and someone made and offer to give you $50.000. to resign you would certainly refuse. May God bless and keep you. Did you ever think of Contributing to St. John's Breadline in Newark, they do wonderful work, you would be supporting people who teach the values of Christ by washing the feet of the poor; binding their wounds, and giving them nourishment. God bless you and yours.

    1. The gift is being donated to another Archdiocese where moral leadership is evident and practiced. Anonymous

  8. "The members are a disgrace to the profession of journalism." said the publicity-whore who calls victims "gold-diggers."

  9. Dear Dug:

    Heard this at a "Faith-Sharing Group" It was told to us by a guest speaker from a member of "Courage" a Roman Catholic organization whose members experience same-sex attraction but whose lives reflect a deep love of Christ and a commitment to living lives governed by Christian values.

    Essently he said: "When I was a young man I attempted to "make it" with a clergyman who wore a clerical Collar-- perhaps he was a Roman Priest. After perceiving that he was interested in me, the reality and immorality of what I was about to do kicked in. I asked him for his blessing instead and walked him home. However, before leaving his presence I said, 'Reverend, I am not rejecting you as a person, Christ would not do that; however, If I were to have an encounter with you my respect for the clergy would diminish, I wouldn't want that for you, for me, or for the Church!

    so he wouldn't be lonely I said to him, Father, if I were to go home with you, I would never have the same respect for the priesthood that I now have. Instead of going to "his room" I asked him to hear my confession and to bless me. I then

  10. Re: Anonymous May 6, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    The last two lines of the above post were part of another shared experience. After typing it, I realized that it was redundant and thought that It was completely deleted.

  11. Dear Anonymous,

    So what. I was talking about the publicity-whore's willingness to characterize all Irish victims as gold-diggers. Someone trying to get it on with a priest and then having second thoughts has nothing to do with Bill Donahue's characterization of Irish victims as "gold-diggers." Or, are you just trying to distract attention away from that?

  12. The reason he is defending Myers is because he is JUST LIKE Myers - he pays himself $over 400,000$ a year, at The Catholic League. On top of that - B ill Donahue does absolutely NO charity work with that money - for any Catholics - or anyone else.