Friday, December 17, 2010

Church and state
. Church and State

December 14, 2010... The Newark Archbishop, John J Meyers protects pedophile priests (four of 'em if you are scoring at home)... Legislation sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Nicholas P. Scutari which would eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers, and would allow for the revival of cases which were dismissed because the state of limitations had lapsed, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week by a vote of 9-0. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Vitale and Scutari “get it” and it’s about time some of these politicians do. Recently there has been a rash of court decisions that have opened up court records and diocesan records alike to reveal the names of credible accusations against clergy. Trenton has this “deal” as well.

In this "deal" the Mercer County prosecutor agreed to "seal" the names of priest within the Trenton Diocese that had "credible" claims against them by those they abused. They were defrocked or dead or simply slipped out of site. The prosecutor said it was just a matter of the expiration of the statutes of limitations. Well, it's not that simple anymore and there are nine men and a whole lot of people at the Diocese office quacking in their cassocks today because of it.

Now it is time for them to come clean. The deal brokered between (then) Bishop John M Smith and the Mercer County prosecutor’s office was a smoke screen that is indicative of both organizations that we place our trust in both for protection against earthly forces and our spiritual needs. Of those names sealed, I have four. I plan on having all twelve by mid-July 2011. These names are those that have either died or left the priesthood or have been defrocked but still live in our state and neighborhoods and our school districts. Should we just let this sleeping dog lie? No. There are people that walk around with a loss of innocence by those that are supposedly closest to God and the successors of the Apostles (Bishops). Opening these records will be a huge step in the healing process if healing is possible.

One of the sealed names of John Banko who is a central focus in my book Purple Reign.” Banko sits today in the Avenel Treatment Center in Woodbridge for his crimes as a priest in the Metuchen diocese but has never been held accountable for his crimes in the diocese of Trenton. Releasing his name officially will place at least seven victims in Trenton at a crossroads to decide whether to press the Diocese to react or to simply move on.

But who is fighting this bill from passing? The church and the Church “Leagues” of course.

The Catholic League is claiming that it is impossible to allow for a defense of cases that are 20, 30 and even 40 years old. Memories fade they claim and witnesses become scarce. At the committee hearing (that passed this resolution to bring to the state Senate by a 9-0 vote) the Leagues showed up as a Church proxy in order to make the claim for the church so that the church would not have to look “soft” on the past scandals.

This brings us all to the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ and His Excellency Archbishop John J. Meyers.

According to the Newark Star Ledger just this past week, eight years ago, Bishop Myers stood among the nation’s bishops in Dallas and helped craft a policy intended to cleanse the priesthood of pedophiles and restore trust among shaken American Catholics.

In ratifying the Dallas Charter, Myers and his colleagues promised a new era of reform and transparency. Allegations of sexual abuse against priests would no longer be hidden from parishioners or police, and any priest believed to have molested a child would be permanently banned from ministry.

In the years since, Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests – ah, not so much!

The diligent Newark Star-Ledger reporter Jeff Diamant did a review of the archbishop’s record since 2002 and it shows Myers on at least four occasions has shielded priests accused of sexual abuse against minors and one adult. In the four instances, the priests have either admitted improper sexual contact, pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct or been permanently barred from ministry by the archdiocese after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The archdiocese also wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the priests, a week after it learned he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home in Florida and possibly assaulting her.

From one perspective, the newspaper’s findings suggest Myers continues to take a cautious hand in publicly naming priests. The findings, coupled with testimony from a 2009 deposition, show the issue weighs heavily on Myers.
From another view, the archbishop has failed to live up to the guidelines and spirit of what was set forth in Dallas. The most controversial example is the Rev. Michael Fugee, who confessed to police eight years ago that he molested a 13-year-old boy. Fugee was never ousted from the priesthood, and the archdiocese assigned him last year as chaplain to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark without telling hospital officials of his past.

In other cases:

- In 2004, the Newark Archdiocese wrote letters to six dioceses in Florida on behalf of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, one week after learning Gorak’s ministry had been terminated in the Orlando Diocese — after he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home.

- Also in 2004, the archdiocese banned the Rev. Gerald Ruane from public ministry after investigating an allegation he molested a boy, but did not publicly notify lay people or other priests. Ruane continued to say Mass and wear his collar in public.

- In 2007, the archdiocese failed to inform lay people that it found a molestation claim credible against the Rev. Daniel Medina, who had worked in parishes in Elizabeth and Jersey City. The case wasn’t made public until a victims group uncovered an alert sent by the archdiocese in September 2008 to other bishops saying Medina was on administrative leave and could not be located.

So now we need to turn to our state representatives and it seems the democrat Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Nicholas P. Scutari are answering the call and Newark Star-Ledger reporter Jeff Diamant is doing his investigating. This has to be made crystal, this is not catholic bashing. I remain devout but I also remain diligent and suspicious of career-minded clerics that are putting the church ahead protection. They are making victims of these people one more time.

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