Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

ecclesia supplet

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 16, 2009

Former Diocese of Phoenix priest Dale Fushek is the founder of LifeTeen ministries. In 2005 he was charged with ten misdemeanor counts of criminal sexual mischief, which included indecent exposure, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and assault. One of the misdemeanors is alleged to have occurred in the hot tub of Fushek's parish rectory. I couldn't find the Sacerdotal Guidelines for Hot Tub Hospitality at the USCCB's website, but it would appear that Fushek would have failed in any case to abide by them.

Even at the zenith of this career, Fushek was known well enough to the Phoenix police to have acquired the in-house nickname Dale Evans -- a wink at Roy Rogers's cowgirl sweetheart, and a fact that points to the unsavory character (and frequency) of Fushek's extracurricular activity. The Diocese of Phoenix had also paid $45,000 in 1996 to an adult male to settle a claim of sexual harrassment on the part of Fushek. Oddly for a communications expert, Fushek claimed his "words and actions of affection" were misinterpreted.

Two years ago Fushek was defrocked and excommunicated by the new Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted. Fushek had hived off from the Catholic Church to start his own Worship and Praise Center. This past week it was reported that Fushek's long-delayed trial has been scheduled for next February. Perhaps then he will find the "closure" so sorely lacking in his ministry.

A final note. During the abysmal period of Bishop Thomas O'Brien's superintendency, Fushek was the Vicar General of the Diocese of Phoenix, second only to the bishop in clout. Here's how the Code of Canon Law delineates the job (c. 479):

The Vicar General has the same executive power throughout the whole diocese as that which belongs by law to the diocesan Bishop: that is, he can perform all administrative acts, with the exception however of those which the Bishop has reserved to himself, or which by law require a special mandate of the Bishop.

Doesn't mention anything about hot tub relaxation technique. Canon 478 outlines his essential qualifications:

The Vicar General and the Episcopal Vicar are to be priests of not less than thirty years of age, with a doctorate or licentiate in canon law or theology, or at least well versed in these disciplines. They are to be known for their sound doctrine, integrity, prudence and practical experience.

Fushek was trained in neither Canon Law nor Theology, but he did have a Master's in Liturgy from the University of Notre Dame. The prosecution rests.

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