NJ- Ex Catholic official blasts Newark archbishop

A prominent Catholic canon lawyer who once headed the American Catholic bishops’ top sex abuse panel is harshly criticizing, in a rare and stunningly candid manner, Newark Archbishop John Myers.


Nicholas Cafardi is a civil and canon lawyer and Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law. He is the former chair of the National Review Board, a lay panel created by America’s bishops in 2002 to oversee how the prelates deal with clergy sex crimes.

In a new, 2400 word article in the Catholic magazine Commonweal, Cafardi writes that Myers, in the Fr. Michael Fugee case,

-- “was less than forthcoming.”

--“has yet to take any personal responsibility for the failures of his own archdiocese.”

“If Myers failed to ask” for “updates (about Fr. Fugee), he is grossly negligent,” Cafardi says. “If he did and knew about Fugee’s violations of the agreement, then he is complicit.”

He also says that

--Fr. Michael Fugee’s confession “disturbs (him)” and “seems straightforward, not the words of a man who was forced by police to confess to acts he didn’t commit.”

--“The idea of “limited ministry” does not appear in the (church’s national abuse policy). It is a half-measure that” is “trouble” because “a priest in limited ministry still gets to wear his Roman collar, still gets to present himself as a priest in good standing. That collar is a badge of trust signifying authority. It can allow priests to spend time alone with children—Fugee is proof of this.”

--“If we can’t rely on review boards, then we have no assurance that abusive priests will not remain in ministry—beyond our bishops’ words. Of course, we had those words before Dallas, and now we know they weren’t true.”

We are encouraged every time a Catholic insider sees and says that bishops are breaking their promises and endangering their flocks.  This is what will help bring about reform: when respected Catholics begin to clearly see and publicly denounce the continuing complicity in the church hierarchy.


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  • Michael Ference
    commented 2013-06-12 16:37:33 -0500
    Nicholas, what about the review board in your hometown, the Pittsburgh Diocesan review board. Made up of former PA Supreme Court Chief Justice
    Stephen Zappala who has a rather noteworthy family history with plenty of ties to the Sicilian Mob.

    Coincidently, his son Stephen Jr. sits on the US Bishop’s Conference board that oversees clergy sex abuse crimes. Stephen Jr. is also the District Attorney for Allegheny County, a county that seems to turn a deaf ear on clergy abuse victims.

    Tell me Nicholas, would you want a female relative to marry a Zappala? Just asking.


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