NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) In a sharply worded offensive, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers lashed out at the media and his critics, saying he has been the target of “deceitful and misleading” information about his oversight of sexually abusive priests.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers is facing fierce criticism for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a court-ordered lifetime ban on ministry to children. Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers is facing fierce criticism for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a court-ordered lifetime ban on ministry to children. Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.


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Myers, who has limited his public comments in the face of a string of recent scandals, took broad aim in the letter, addressed to his priests and distributed Aug. 13-14 to parishioners at weekend services.

In addition to the media, he questioned the motivations of politicians and former or retired clergy members who have spoken out against him, terming them “traveling bandwagons” and suggesting they have a prejudiced and spiteful view of the Roman Catholic faith.

He suggested, too, they would be judged by God.

“For any who set out to claim that I or the Church have had no effective part in the love and protection of children, is simply evil, wrong, immoral, and seemingly focused on their own self-aggrandizement,” Myers wrote. “God only knows their personal reasons and agenda. We are still called to love them. And God will surely address them in due time.”

Myers wrote the letter in response to recent reports about a $1.35 million settlement between the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., (where Myers was bishop from 1990 to 2001) and the family of a man who contends an Illinois priest abused him as a child in 1995 and 1996.

At an Aug. 16 press conference in Newark, the mother of the man publicly blamed Myers for her son’s alleged abuse at the hands of the Rev. Thomas Maloney, saying Myers failed to remove Maloney from ministry despite an earlier allegation against him.

Myers, in a 2010 deposition in the case, said he had no knowledge of any allegations against Maloney until long after he left Peoria. Documents produced in the legal case show Myers was copied on certain memos with potentially incriminating information about Maloney, but the archbishop said he didn’t see them.

In his weekend letter to priests, Myers reiterated that he didn’t know about the claims.

“At no time was I ever aware that some people thought him to be a threat to children or young people,” he said.

Maloney died in 2009.

He also suggested the media should investigate the “records and personal lifestyles” of former, retired or “marginalized” priests who have criticized his record in Newark and Peoria.

Two former priests, one in Peoria and one in New Jersey, are members of the newly formed group “Catholic Whistleblowers,” which claims the church has not done enough to address the clergy sex abuse crisis.

The retired Peoria priest, the Rev. Patrick Collins, said he stands by his criticism of the archbishop.

“I’m not out to hurt him,” Collins said. “I’m just out to get the truth, and I think given the situation he’s in, he should resign.”

 (Mark Mueller writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark.)

 

 

14 Comments

  1. People criticizing the poor and misdirected response to abuse among the clergy are not attacking the Church, rather they are trying to help the Church overcome the poor leadership which has led us to the situation to begin with.

    Attacking critics when you’ve obviously dropped the ball (“I missed the memo”?) is in and of itself a sign of poor leadership and the Church and faithful deserve better.

    The whistle-blowers in this case are quite possibly heroes, exposing themselves to verbal abuse from some of the Church’s highest placed leaders in this case.

    If Church leadership spent as much time addressing the underlying causes as it did spinning stories then these scandals would have been off the front pages 10 years ago.

    • Judas Iscariot was surely a whistle blower concerning the Will of God and His Plan for the salvation of great multitudes of humanity as he thought that Jesus should not have to die and Satan tricked him to betray Jesus. But when the modern day Judas’ see what happens (how much the true Church will have to suffer) they too will go out and do as Judas did.

    • It amazes me how easy it is to criticize leadership when indeed you are not walking in their shoes. We are talking about priests who have been nurtured and educated for approximately 8 years in preparation of the Priesthood, who have been chosen and anointed by God to shepherd the flock and we fail to acknowledge that the clergy are fallible, human beings who are tempted at every turn by the evil one to lose their souls.

      Leadership is concerned more about the souls of those priests than what the critics think about the situation. If you are a Catholic in more than name only, you would have compassion for the fallen priests and the Bishops and would pray for them instead of using your mouth to condemn them.

      If you think that you can obtain better results than the Bishops, why are you not volunteering your expertise? Talk is cheap. Lord have mercy on all of us.

      • Wow, I’m pretty shocked by the follow-up comments, attacking me and accusing me of being catholic in name-only, un-compassionate and comparing all whistle-blowers to Judas Iscariot. You don’t know anything about me!

        Without going into detail, certain types of people are committing 85% of the abuse. The abuse and subsequent cover-ups occured because some bishops and Cardinals are themselves part of that group (Weakland is a good public case but there are many more examples if you search around.) Until we clean house in the hierarchy the problems aren’t going away. Benedict did a lot of good getting us in the right direction, but there is still more to go.

        I understand that you think you are defending the Church, but when you attack whistle-blowers and random commenters like myself – especially when you do so on such a personal level – you are just supporting the abusers. It’s notoriously difficult to speak out about abuse cases and it starts in the seminaries. Good bishops need support, bad bishops need to be called out by their flock. Personal, border-line irrational attacks such as yours just perpetuate the cycle.

    • @gabo: You are correct. Seems Luther incurred the same wrath for speaking truth. It’s always a “shoot the messenger” syndrome with these guys. Circle the wagons like Nixon instead of full disclosure. Drip, drip and more drips. Their PR dept is stuck in the 1950′s and have learned nothing from the modern world of reality concerning damage control. To wit: Everything which will eventually come out should be made known sooner rather than later. Instead, they continually hide behind pastoral letters as SOP.

      If AB Meyers is so vehement in this matter, why the continual payoffs and settlements? Better to stand on principle even if losing in court. The same can be said for that clown Cardinal Dolan of NY during his time as AB of Milwaukee.

      They want to defend themselves by drawing a contrast with the rate of abusive teacher, Scout leaders, the Protestant church, et al.. Their problem is that these other people do not present themself as “altar Christi’s” –or the Vicar –of Christ on the earth. They set themself as being of a higher standard. As such, Pride does “goeth before the fall.”

      Their other problem remains. They simply refuse to fire the bastards. Somehow they cannot come to grips with the reality they have “ordained” a group of men who had no business being ordained. Talk about spiritual blindness ? –thy name is the Vatican.

  2. There is no doubt the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by men who are Gay and even worse have little or no true faith. There days are numbered and now that the new Pope is at the helm I do believe the church will continue to clean up its act. I fear though that the damage which was done and is quite extensive will still take its toll on the faithful. We need to pray, pray, and pray some more for our church leaders and priests and for the truth to come out which will set us free from the cruel tyranny of the evil one. Gabo you should focus more on prayer! I know it is fun to comment but talk is cheap!

    • Thanks Ted, your comment restored my faith in humanity that was lost reading the previous couple of comments. Though you don’t know to what extent I pray, so I find that comment odd.

      And “talk is cheap” implies a need for talk to be accompanied by action, so what action did you have in mind? I can assure you I take the action appropriate to my state in life, along with my own personal prayer – though neither of those are salient to the points I made earlier.

      Lost in this is the fact that leaders need to be held accountable differently than private individuals. This is recognized even in the theological definition of detraction. Unfortunately, to properly resolve this issue it is necessary to point out that a bishop did drop the ball and that ad hominem attacks are not an appropriate response from leadership. Doing so is not attacking the church.

      The fact that subsequent commenters so quickly resort to personal judgement of both myself and the “whistle-blowers” is frankly discouraging. There are problems. Those problems need to be called out, especially by the victims. When speaking out about the problems results in personal attacks by Bishops and fellow Catholics as yourselves it’s no surprise that the abusers remained in their positions so long and that so many of the victims lost their faith in the process.

  3. Ted above is quite right – the Church has been infiltrated by Gays with little faith. They simply filled a vacuum. These parasites travel from one venue to another as they are weeded out.

    The Nazi Brownshirts, Boy Scouts, Catholic Church, even Major Junior Hockey, just for examples – they have victimized so many organizations that it is about time for media and critics to lay off the critique of organizations they have no knowledge of, and get to the problem itself. Just one man’s opinion.

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