John J. Myers

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John J. Myers
Archbishop of Newark
Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
Abp John Myers.jpg
See Newark
Appointed July 24, 2001
Installed October 9, 2001
Predecessor Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Successor Bernard Hebda (Coadjutor)
Other posts Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
Orders
Ordination December 17, 1966
by Francis Frederick Reh
Consecration September 3, 1987
by Edward W. O'Rourke
Personal details
Born (1941-07-26) July 26, 1941 (age 72)
Earlville, Illinois
Previous post
Alma mater Pontifical Gregorian University
North American College
Motto MYSTERIUM ECCLESIAE LUCEAT
(LET THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH SHINE FORTH)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
John J. Myers
Coat of arms of John Joseph Myers.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency, but he personally prefers Your Grace
Religious style Archbishop

John Joseph Myers (born July 26, 1941 in Earlville, Illinois) is the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey, U.S.) and the Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos. He was previously Bishop of Peoria, and has been criticized for shielding known child abusers in that diocese. He is expected to retire in 2016, and the church money that he is expending on his future retirement home is another source of controversy.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

The eldest of seven children, Myers has an ancestry that traces its roots to Ireland, England and France. Ancestors settled in northern Illinois in the late 19th century. The Myers family farmed land near Earlville, Illinois. Prayer was an important part of their family routine and John Myers became an altar server in his parish, St. Theresa, from an early age. He attended the Earlville schools and graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa in 1963. While he was a student at Loras, Bishop John Baptist Franz offered him the opportunity to prepare for the priesthood in Rome.[3]

Priesthood[edit]

He was ordained to the priesthood (by Bishop Francis Reh at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome) for the Diocese of Peoria (Illinois) on December 17, 1966. His education for the priesthood and as a priest included study in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University while attending seminary at the North American College, where he received the S.T.L., or licentiate (post-master's certification) in sacred theology, and a doctorate in church law, the J.C.D.[3]

Episcopacy[edit]

John Myers, at 46, was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria in 1987, with Peoria's Bishop Edward William O'Rourke as the principal consecrator, and Louisville's then-Archbishop, Thomas Cajetan Kelly, O.P., and the then-Bishop of Pittsburgh (now Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington, D.C.), Donald William Wuerl, serving as the co-consecrators. He served as Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria, and became Bishop of Peoria upon O'Rourke's resignation and retirement in 1990.[4]

On July 24, 2001 he was appointed as the fifth Archbishop of Newark and third Superior of the Mission Sui Iuris of Turks and Caicos. He was installed October 9, 2001 and his Pallium was conferred on June 29, 2002.[3]

Activities[edit]

Myers is active in the Canon Law Society of America, having worked with committees dealing with the Revised Code of Canon Law, diocesan fiscal officers, lay ministry, and diocesan governance, and served as a member of the CLSA Board of Governors. He helped present workshops on the revised Code of Canon Law for members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.[3]

Archbishop Myers also served as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts at the Holy See. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees at The Catholic University of America; and serves on the board of the North American College and Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.[3]

His hobby is writing and is the co-author with Gary K. Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) of Space Vulture, a 1950s pulp sci-fi pastiche novel published by Tor Books in 2008.[5]

Views[edit]

Myers has been both praised and criticized because of his strong conservative views and management style. Many praise his leadership and say he champions authentic Catholic doctrine at a time when many feel Catholics are drifting from strict observance. But his critics describe a domineering bishop who places undue emphasis on the letter of the law at the expense of compassion. Myers defended his actions stating: "We live our faith in communion with the church in Rome...It's sometimes difficult for us as Catholics to follow a way that appears to be different from what others in our society practice or believe. This can, understandably, cause confusion or frustration in some people."[6] While Bishop of Peoria, Myers:

  • Prevented Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (now-retired auxiliary of Detroit) from meeting with a progressive group in a church in the Peoria diocese.
  • Admonished priests who give Holy Communion to pro-choice parishioners and divorced Catholics who remarry without getting an annulment.
  • Refused to let diocesan teachers attend a national meeting for Catholic educators because one of the speakers was known to favor ordination of women and fired a parochial school teacher for permitting a debate on ordination of women.
  • Supported the Cardinal Newman Society. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb. (since retired), one of its stalwarts, has threatened to excommunicate Catholics who belong to liberal church organizations such as Call to Action.[7]

On April 30, 2010, the Archbishop expressed concern about a planned offering of a course on same-sex marriage by his diocese's Catholic university, Seton Hall University, saying it "troubles me greatly".[8][9]

Church sex scandal[edit]

In 2002, Archbishop Myers was among the two-thirds of sitting bishops and acting diocese administrators that the Dallas Morning News found had allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to continue working.[10]

Myers has been linked to several cases in which priests convicted or accused of sexual abuse have either been shielded or transferred to positions where they would come in further contact with children, dating back to his days as a bishop in Peoria, IL.[11]

In 2009 The Newark Archdiocese installed the Rev. Michael Fugee as chaplain at Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark. Fugee had signed a confession admitting to fondling a teenage boy[12] and a jury convicted him in 2003 of criminal sexual contact, but that conviction was eventually overturned by an Appellate Court in 2006, for reasons unrelated to his admission.[13]

In order to avoid a retrial Fugee then signed an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office in 2007 agreeing to a lifetime ban prohibiting him from work that would put him in contact with children. The Archdiocese co-signed the agreement stating they would supervise Fugee and keep the agreement in force. However, by 2013 Fugee was again working with children, this time with the youth ministry at St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, a parish outside of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese has stated that it was unaware of the activities and that it would not have permitted Fugee to engage in them. The Bergen County Prosecutor is investigating possible criminal charges.[14]

On Friday, November 8, 2013 Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli sharply rebuked Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, saying it was clear neither Myers nor his deputies made any significant effort to monitor Fugee as required under a previous memorandum of understanding. As noted in the previous paragraph Fugee signed the 2007 agreement to avoid retrial on charges he groped a teenage boy on multiple occasions. The prosecutor said he no longer had confidence in Myers and felt compelled to shift the supervision of Fugee from the archdiocese to the prosecutor’s office. In addition Fugee also declared he told the truth during previous depositions regarding his molestation of the teen, nullifying statements he made that his confession had been coerced. This stands in contrast to Myers' contention the Prosecutor's office had no reason to monitor Fugee or suspect him of wrongdoing. [15]

There were calls for Archbishop Myers to resign, including from members of the New Jersey legislature, because of his "outrageous" handling of an accused sexually abusive priest, the Rev. Michael Fugee. Archbishop Myers had reportedly allowed Fr. Fugee to minister to children despite a binding agreement entered into with the Prosecutor's Office that he would never work with children.[16]

In 2013, Archbishop Myers was given a coadjutor archbishop: Bernard Hebda, until then the bishop of Gaylord, Michigan.

Honors[edit]

On December 10, 2010 Myers received the honour Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by Prince Victor Emmanuel in recognition of the Archbishop’s exemplary leadership as head of his large Catholic archdiocesan flock and as an important church and religious leader in America.[17]

Retirement home controversy[edit]

In February 2014, the New York Times reported Archbishop Myers planned to retire to a "palace" being expanded to 7,500-foot at his direction in Pittstown, New Jersey. [18][19] Without the new wing, Myers home is currently assessed at $776,700.[20] The retirement home improvements will cost at least $500,000 with architects’ fees. Furnishing promises to add to the existing $500,000 bill.[20]

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness defended the installation of a 14x7 pool by saying "The press says it's a hot tub; it's a whirlpool..."[21][22] The proceeds from the sale of other properties owned by the archdiocese will pay for the expansion.[22] The proceeds from the sale of other properties owned by the archdiocese will pay for the expansion.[23]

An elementary school giving opportunities for immigrant children to study was closed the church claimed it could not afford to continue running it. Dorothy Gawronski, a local said, "It was a loved place, that school, but the church, I don't think it’s rich anymore." Renovations to the archbishop's retirement home contrast with this. [24][25] Myers is expected to retire in 2016. the expanded home where he intends to live Franklin Township in Hunterdon County has been called "lavish". This contrasts with the simple and humble lifestyle of Pope Francis who lives frugally, urged bishops to avoid living "like princes" and advocated a "poor church for the poor." [1][26] Charles Zech, faculty director of the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova University business school said that Myers was not paying attention to Pope Francis, and was taking money out of the pockets of parishioners.[27] Ordinary parishioners are also strongly dissatisfied.[27] Many parishioners are cutting back on donations to charities that the diocese funds and concerns have been raised that the people in need are suffering through this. Parishioners fear there is no other way to prevent their complaints being ignored. [28] Rev. John Bambrick, pastor of a parish in Jackson Township, said that Myers would not be held accountable, but that the poor would be.[29]

The National Catholic Reporter wrote that Myers was emblematic of corruption that had been in the church for decades.[30]

A petition with 17, 000 signatures requesting the sale of the property will be presented to the bishop.[31]

See also[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Episcopal lineage
Consecrated by: Edward William O'Rourke
Consecrator of
Bishop Date of consecration
Edgar Moreira da Cunha June 27, 2003
Gaetano Aldo Donato May 21, 2004
John Walter Flesey May 21, 2004
Manuel Aurelio Cruz June 9, 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Newark archbishop's future retirement home undergoing a $500K addition". NJ.com. 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  2. ^ http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/editorial_clerical_error_in_judgement_-_newark_archbishops_lavish_retirement_estate_contradicts_pope.html
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Most Reverend John J. Myers – Biographical Information". Archdiocese of Newark. Retrieved April 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ David M. Cheney. "Archbishop John Joseph Myers [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  5. ^ Kahn, Joseph P. (2007-02-28). "'Roger Rabbit' creator Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Myers travel back in time and conquer the universe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  6. ^ McLory, Robert, National Catholic Reporter: "Peoria's John Myers takes conservative message to Newark" 2001
  7. ^ Austin, Charles: "Newark bishop's legacy is mixed" The Record (Bergen County, NJ) September 2, 2001
  8. ^ New Jersey.com: "Newark archbishop questions plan for Seton Hall University gay marriage class" May 1, 2010
  9. ^ Cardinal Newman Society: "Archbishop of Newark Criticizes Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Course at Seton Hall" April 30, 2010
  10. ^ Egerton, Brooke; Reese Dunklin. "Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on February 18, 2004. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  11. ^ Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic diocese of Peoria
  12. ^ "Fugee Police Statement". Documentcloud.org. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  13. ^ M. Kathleen Kelly/For The Star-Ledger (2009-10-16). "Archdiocese removes priest from hospital in Newark after learning of molestation history". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  14. ^ "Rev. Michael Fugee Scandal: 3 More Resign In Controversy Around Accused Priest". Huffingtonpost.com. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  15. ^ "Spared prison, the Rev. Michael Fugee faces loss of his priesthood, lifetime of restrictions". NJ.com. 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  16. ^ http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/newark_archbishop_monmouth_cou.html
  17. ^ HRH Prince Victor Emmanuel of Savoy Honors Archbishop John L. Myers of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey – Press Release Distribution
  18. ^ A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace, by MIchael Powell, 19 February 2014, New York Times
  19. ^ Mueller, Mark. "Newark archbishop's future retirement home undergoing a $500K addition". The Star Ledger. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "Newark archbishop turning luxury home into a mansion for $500G: report". NY Daily News. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  21. ^ "Newark archbishop turning luxury home into a mansion for $500G: report". NY Daily News. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  22. ^ a b http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/nyregion/a-church-so-poor-it-has-to-close-schools-yet-so-rich-it-can-build-a-palace.html?_r=0
  23. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/nyregion/a-church-so-poor-it-has-to-close-schools-yet-so-rich-it-can-build-a-palace.html?_r=0
  24. ^ A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace
  25. ^ Newark archibishop's retirement home expansion builds up frustration
  26. ^ "Newark Archbishop's pricey retirement home spurs backlash as parishioners withhold donations". NJ.com. 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  27. ^ a b Newark's Archbishop Under Fire for Making Lavish $500K Addition to $800K Retirement Home Despite Pope Wanting 'Poor Church'
  28. ^ Newark Archbishop John J. Myers' Luxury Addition Angers Catholic Parishioners
  29. ^ Newark Archbishop's pricey retirement home spurs backlash as parishioners withhold donations
  30. ^ Editorial: N.J. archbishop's retirement home an assault on parishioners' goodwill
  31. ^ http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/angry_about_archbishops_pricey_retirement_home_parishioners_to_deliver_17000_signatures_sunday.html#incart_m-rpt-1
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Archbishop Of Newark
2001–present
Incumbent
Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
2001–present
Preceded by
Edward William O'Rourke
Bishop of Peoria
1990–2001
Succeeded by
Daniel Robert Jenky, C.S.C.