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Michael Fugee Laicized: What’s wrong with this picture?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 18, 2014

Newark priest Michael Fugee has been laicized after violating an agreement with prosecutors to stay out of any ministry involving children. Contrary to the agreement, Fugee slipped into the neighboring Diocese of Trenton, without seeking permission, and participated in youth programs at two parishes. We provide a brief report on Fugee’s laicization, with links to more detailed background from the Newark Star Ledger.

Our story is accurate, but what is wrong with the picture it presents?

I suppose you could pick out several things. One is certainly Fugee’s assignment by Archbishop John Myers as co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. Admittedly, there are only a limited number of positions for priests who are not allowed to work with youth, but the Ongoing Formation of Priests? Really?

Still, to me the big blot on the picture is in the final sentence: “In a November agreement with prosecutors, Fugee agreed to seek laicization.” This is a man who has admitted improper “handling” (literally) of boys, including the fact that this gives him pleasure. This is a man who violated his own agreement and that of the Archdiocese of Newark which required him to keep away from children in his priestly ministry.

And this is a man who was removed from the clerical state because he sought laicization to escape further prosecution.

So what is wrong with this picture? The Church did not clean its own house.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Mar. 20, 2014 1:33 PM ET USA

    There is a *lot* more to the Fugee case than the media has acknowledged. But the main message of the Fugee story is this: **ANY** kind of physical contact with a minor by a priest - ANY, even one non-sexual encounter - and then talking to the police about it - will lead to *huge* negative publicity, jail time, and loss of the priesthood. Wrestling with a boy was a *huge* mistake. Police can *very* easily twist that into "fondling," "groping," and "sexual molesting."

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Mar. 19, 2014 7:35 AM ET USA

    What is really out of kilter here is that Myers still has his old job. Long ago he should have been promoted to a new and larger diocese, one in some place like Turkmenistan. We Catholics in the pews are left to ponder a nagging question: If someone endowed with a miter makes mistakes, how many and how big do they have to be before Rome finally intervenes? Does Rome only "clean house" when the uproar in the secular press over episcopal buffoonery becomes deafening?

  • Posted by: msorensen71798 - Mar. 18, 2014 11:33 PM ET USA

    Wouldn't a monastic assignment be a better solution? Laicization is turning him loose, where he will very likely do more harm.

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 18, 2014 3:18 PM ET USA

    The bishops as a whole are reluctant to discipline their priests on sexual problems, precisely because these problems are so wide-spread, among priests AND bishops. Homosexual misbehavior is very widespread. The pederasty crisis, as bad as it is/was, is only the tip of the gay iceberg. Recall that there was a period of about 20 years where homosexual behavior was widely practiced in the seminaries (e.g., see documentation by Michael Rose.) It will not go away easily.

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