Father Fugee has a desk job. Would you rather he be free to roam?


There was no small amount of consternation yesterday when the Newark Archdiocese announced that Father Michael Fugee has been appointed to co-diretor of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests.

The new appointment, effective late last year, shows “breathtaking arrogance” and “an alarming disdain for common sense” by Archbishop John J. Myers, said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a watchdog group that tracks abuse allegations against priests across the nation.

“On the scale of actions by Catholic officials in the last 10 years, it’s somewhere between alarming and outrageous,” Barrett Doyle said. “No reasonable person would give a prestigious assignment to a priest deemed by law enforcement to be a danger to children. I hope Newark Catholics call him to account.”

This reaction puzzled the archdiocese, considering the position is a desk job in the chancery, amounts to researching programs and sending out emails, perhaps giving the occasional talk to priests pitching said programs, and very explicitly having no unsupervised contact with minors.

Not. Glamorous. At. All. Especially for one who—regardless of whatever deviancy led him to abuse minors—wanted a life of service to others, leading them to Christ.*

All of this is consistent with the directives of the local prosecutor’s office, and approved by them.

“We have not received any complaints from the prosecutor’s office…since Father has been back in ministry,” said Jim Goodness, the archdiocesan communications director.

“We’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing,” he told CNA on Feb. 5.

Archbishop John Myers

Newark's Archbishop John Myers

What do the people of BishopAccountability.org and SNAP want the Church to do? Clearly the priest cannot be returned to active parish ministry, and defrocking him and sending him back into the general populace would *increase* the chance that the man would abuse a minor again. A chancery job keeps him holed up in an office building under the watchful eye of Church officials rather than out in a parish. Cutting him loose would untether him from all supervision and weaken the support structure that would keep him from abusing again.

Sounds like the archdiocese did the right thing here.


*Sincerely wanting to serve others and help them grow closer to the Lord and suffering from a sexual deviancy are not mutually exclusive, though the latter can certainly inhibit the former in practice

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

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