When will Catholic officials stop trying to play ‘gatekeeper’ and ‘screen’ child sex abuse reports? Why don’t they just tell people ‘if you see, suspect or suffer clergy child sex crimes, call law enforcement directly?’
The answer is clear: they want victims and witnesses to come to church officials first, giving them the chance to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, and start their extensive and expensive damage control and public relations maneuvers.
Some may feel comfort in the short, vague announcement on the Trenton diocesan website about Fr. Fugee. We don’t. It’s more about looking good than doing good.
These two bishops should name the parishes Fr. Fugee was in. They should personally visit those parishes. They should beg church members and staff “Please, ask everyone you know, ‘Did Fr. Fugee hurt you?’” They should instruct them to seek out former church members and staff who may have quit or moved or stopped coming because Fr. Fugee hurt one of them.
Trenton’s bishop should announce the names of the three church employees who resigned because they let a predator be around kids. He should go beyond mere resignations and harshly punish them.
Paterson’s bishop should harshly and publicly out the church employees in his diocese who recklessly and callously put kids in harm’s way by letting Fr. Fugee around them.
(We do not believe officials in both dioceses who claim, according to The Record today, that “they neither knew about nor permitted Fugee’s participation with youth.” Fr. Fugee went to Canada with Catholic kids. Photos of the trip were on Facebook. Are we to believe that no one in either diocese saw photos from the trip or caught wind that he was with them?)
We strongly suspect that New Jersey Catholic officials are terrified. They know that if Fr. Fugee molested even one child since his 2001 guilty admission, they’re looking a horrific, embarrassing and expensive lawsuit. That’s why they’re trying to seem like they care now - in the hopes that a victim’s family will call the bishop first, before calling police, prosecutors, civil lawyers or others independent sources of help.
So to anyone in the Paterson or Trenton dioceses – or any Catholic diocese for that matter – our message is simple:
Why take a needless risk? Why report what you know or suspect about crimes to biased amateurs in church offices? Why not report to the independent professionals in the police department? Why give Catholic employees the opportunity to ignore or conceal or enable even more crimes?
If you know or suspect anything, please DO come forward. But please be smart and responsible. Please protect kids by calling law enforcement.
And please insist on real honesty, not slick public relations, from your bishop.
To read the news story: