Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Honey, Hide the Kids": New Evangelization Impeded by Moral Failure of Bishops Like John Myers of Newark

Archbishop John Myers

I can't let this week end and another begin without mentioning, at least, the important story that has been reported of late from the archdiocese of Newark, NJ. As many readers of this blog will now know, it has come to light that after Father Michael Fugee was convicted of abusing minors in 2003, his conviction got overturned, in part, because the archdiocese of Newark agreed to keep him from contact with children.

That didn't happen. Knowing fully Fugee's track record and having made an agreement with the court to keep Fugee away from children, Newark archbishop John Myers has permitted Fugee to attend youth retreats and to go on youth pilgrimages. He appointed Fugee to the important position of co-director of an office forming new priests for the diocese, and he sent Fugee to a parish to do pastoral ministry among families with children without telling any of the parishioners of Fugee's past.

And so the Newark Star-Ledger is now calling for Myers's resignation, while Fugee has submitted his resignation from the priesthood. As Mike McShea notes at his This Cultural Christian site, some of the state's legislators including Sen. Joseph Vitale are also echoing the call for Myers to resign.

Myers, don't forget, is the Opus Dei bishop (and see also here) who told Catholics supporting marriage equality to stop taking communion last year. At the very same time in which Myers has known that he was exposing children to danger and violating a court agreement to keep Fugee from children, that is to say, he's been rattling his moral saber about someone else--about his gay brothers and sisters.

Many Catholic bishops just don't seem to be getting it yet, do they? They don't seem to be getting that their own egregious moral infractions are the big moral problem to be faced by the Catholic community today--not the gays. As Marci Hamilton points out in a stellar overview this week of precisely who is fighting against the elimination of child-sex-abuse statutes of limitations, the Catholic bishops in the U.S. are at the forefront of attacks on any attempt to eliminate these statues of limitations. Hamilton writes,

Who is afraid of such legislation? 
The most fearful are the Catholic bishops, who are spending thousands, if not millions, in every state, in an attempt to stave off reform.  What do the bishops fear most?  In a word: truth.  The nightmares of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are filled, no doubt, with visions of every single state in the Union repeating the California scenario, where a window led to thousands of pages from their files revealing the basic truth that Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles operated with ice-cold logic as he manipulated victims and families in order to protect pedophile priests from the law. 
In fact, the leading opponent to child sex abuse legislation in most states has been the Catholic Conference, which is the state lobbying arm for the bishops. In New York, they have joined arms with Agudath Israel, working assiduously to keep the lid on the depraved child-sex-abuse situation in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, where victims and families who report abuse are subjected to shunning and cruelty from their own communities.

Just not getting it. They're not getting why Tim Townsend can report that a diocese in Missouri has developed a door-to-door Catholic evangelization program, and the response of at least one reader to this report at the NCR website has been to write, 

"Knock Knock" 
Who's there? 
"The Catholic Church" 
Honey hide the kids.

The bishops keep telling us that when we open the door, the wolf we must expect to see outside is the gay community. But for many of us as we read stories like the Myers-Fugee story, the only possible conclusion we can keep drawing is this one: the wolf is already inside.

And it's the bishops themselves who are crying wolf about the gays who are the wolves in our midst.

I want to acknowledge Frank Douglas's outstanding Voice from the Desert website as my source for several of the links about the Newark story and Marci Hamilton's article that I've used above.

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