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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release:
Monday, December 15, 2008

Catholic Church excommunicates 2 Mesa priests; Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)

It's heart-breaking that it's taken so long for Catholic officials to discipline this dangerous predator. Had church officials acted sooner, who knows how many innocent kids and vulnerable teens might have been spared devastating abuse.

As best we can tell, this is the first time in US church history that a pedophile priest has been excommunicated. (Many assume that most predator priests are no longer priests. That's not true. Most have been suspended, but relatively few have been defrocked. Most remain on the church payroll, receiving health insurance, dental benefits, retirement pay, car allowances, housing allowances and other 'perks.')

Fushek's unwillingness to obey church authorities is often typical of predators, who tend to be egomaniacs who consider themselves 'above' the rules for other people. It's sad and telling that this penalty is given not because Fushek molested but because he opened a competing church.

We hope this action helps cut through the denial of families who might otherwise trust their kids around Fushek. We also hope it will inspire others who know about Fushek's crimes to do the right thing: speak up.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 8,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Dorris (314 862 7688)

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/132532

December 15, 2008 - 11:56AM

Catholic Church excommunicates 2 Mesa priests
Lawn Griffiths, Tribune

Two Valley Catholic priests, Monsignor Dale Fushek and the Rev. Mark Dippre, have been excommunicated by Bishop Thomas Olmsted for defying his order to not engage in public ministry, an activity that was deemed out of accord with the Roman Catholic Church.

Just over a year ago, the priests, who had once served together at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, founded the nondenominational Praise and Worship Center, which meets Sundays at the Fiesta Fountains Reception Center, 1316 S. Longmore, Mesa. Fushek was put on paid leave of absence in late 2005 after he was indicted on 10 misdemeanors related to sexual misconduct across almost a decade while he led the Life Teen program.

The Diocese of Phoenix Monday made public the bishop's order. The statement, posted on the diocesan Web site (diocesephoenix.org), said, "Fushek and Dippre have incurred the censure of excommunication because they have chosen to be in schism with the Catholic Church by establishing and leading an opposing ecclesial community known to the public as the Praise and Worship Center."

The statement said the two men had "consistently refused to comply with explicitly directions by Bishop Olmsted to discontinue engaging in public ministry."

The two priests were informed by letter a week ago of the bishop's action and given a week to respond before the diocese would make it public, said Jim Dwyer, diocesan spokesman. He said, for more than a year, the bishop has sought reconciliation with the two men in asking them to abandon the ministry that regularly draws 200 to 300 each Sunday to the services. Fushek and Dippre speak each Sunday and have repeatedly stated it is not to be construed as "Catholic" in any way.

Dwyer, on Monday, said the action was taken in consultation with the Vatican. "As excommunicated priests, Fushek and Dippre cannot participate in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of worship," the decree said. "They are also prohibited from celebrating or receiving any of the sacraments." They will also forfeit the "benefits of dignity, office or any function they previously acquired in the Catholic Church." That would include Fushek's honorary title of "monsignor."

The degree said the bishop continues to express his "grave concern for Catholics who may be misled or confused by the actions" of the two clergymen.

Dwyer said the pensions of Fushek and Dippre are not affected because those are legal issues, and he said the excommunication does not laicize (take away the title of priest) the two pastors, although such a process may already have been initiated.

Fushek is awaiting trial in San Tan Justice of the Peace Court in Chandler on seven misdemeanor counts involving five alleged victims (three counts were dropped, two because one man who brought a complaint has died). Early this year, Olmsted cut off the salary that Fushek had been paid while awaiting resolution of the legal charges against him. The bishop said he took that action because of Fushek's defiance of his orders.

STATEMENT OF THE DIOCESE OF PHOENIX

Re: The excommunication of Dale Fushek and Mark Dippre

December 15, 2008

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, has issued a Decree of Excommunication to Reverend Monsignor Dale Fushek and Reverend Mark Dippre.

Fushek and Dippre have incurred the censure of excommunication because they have chosen to be in schism with the Catholic Church by establishing and leading an opposing ecclesial community known to the public as the Praise and Worship Center. Both priests have consistently refused to comply with explicit directions by Bishop Olmsted to discontinue engaging in public ministry. The excommunications were incurred after repeated offers of reconciliation were ignored. The decree of excommunication by Bishop Olmsted declares the censure that Fushek and Dippre, as ordained priests, have brought upon themselves. The purpose of these sanctions is to reconcile both men with the Catholic Church and to preserve the integrity and unity of the Diocese.

As excommunicated priests, Fushek and Dippre cannot participate in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of worship. They are also prohibited from celebrating or receiving any of the sacraments. In addition, they forfeit the benefits of dignity, office, or any function that they had previously acquired in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Olmsted continues to express his grave concern for Catholics who may be misled or confused by the actions of Dale Fushek and Mark Dippre. The Diocese of Phoenix does not endorse the actions of these excommunicated priests and we encourage Catholics to refrain from attending or supporting the Praise and Worship Center. We remind Catholics that the ultimate form of praise and worship is and always will be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we urge them to keep the Mass as the center of their lives. There is no substitution for the graces received at Mass and no prayer more edifying.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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