Jump to content

John J. Myers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Joseph Myers
Archbishop of Newark
Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
AppointedJuly 24, 2001
InstalledOctober 9, 2001
Term endedNovember 7, 2016
PredecessorTheodore Edgar McCarrick
SuccessorJoseph William Tobin
Other post(s)Ecclesiastical Superior Emeritus of Turks and Caicos
OrdinationDecember 17, 1966
by Francis Frederick Reh
ConsecrationSeptember 3, 1987
by Edward W. O'Rourke, Thomas C. Kelly, and Donald Wuerl
Personal details
Born(1941-07-26)July 26, 1941
DiedSeptember 24, 2020(2020-09-24) (aged 79)
Ottawa, Illinois, U.S.
Previous post(s)
Alma materPontifical Gregorian University
North American College
MottoMysterium ecclesiae luceat
(Let the mystery of the church shine forth)
Styles of
John Joseph Myers
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
John J. Myers
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byEdward William O'Rourke
DateSeptember 3, 1987
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by John J. Myers as principal consecrator
Edgar Moreira da CunhaJune 27, 2003
Gaetano Aldo DonatoMay 21, 2004
John Walter FleseyMay 21, 2004
Manuel Aurelio CruzJune 9, 2008

John Joseph Myers (July 26, 1941 – September 24, 2020) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Peoria in Illinois between 1990 and 2001, ecclesiastical superior of Turks and Caicos from 2001 to 2016 and as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey during the same period.


Early life[edit]

John Myers was born on July 26, 1941, in Ottawa, Illinois, the eldest of seven children. The Myers family farmed land near Earlville, Illinois. 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, Myers studied for the priesthood in Rome under Bishop John Franz.[1]


Myers was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Francis Reh at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome for the Diocese of Peoria on December 17, 1966. He studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University while attending seminary at the North American College. He received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, and a Doctor of Canon Law degree.[1]

After his ordination, Myers served as assistant pastor at Holy Family Parish in Peoria for one year. He then went to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Department of International Affairs of the United States Catholic Conference from 1970 to 1971. Returning to Illinois, Myers was appointed as associate pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Champaign, Illinois, from 1971 until 1974.[1]

Myers' positions with the diocese included:

  • Administrator of St. Mary Cathedral (1977–1978 and 1984)
  • Vice chancellor (1977–1978)
  • Vocations director (1977–1987)
  • Chancellor (1978–1987)
  • Vicar general (1982–1990)[1]

Myers was also a member of the presbyteral council (1968–1970 and 1984–1990) and the board of consultors (1978–1990).[1]

Coadjutor Bishop and Bishop of Peoria[edit]

On July 7, 1987, Pope John Paul II appointed Myers as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Peoria to assist Bishop Edward O'Rourke. Myers was consecrated on September 3, 1987, with O'Rourke as the principal consecrator. Archbishops Thomas Kelly and Donald Wuerl served as the co-consecrators.[2]

When the Holy See accepted O'Rourke's resignation as bishop on January 23, 1990, Myers automatically became bishop of Peoria.[1][2] While bishop, Myers issued an order forbidding Catholic hospitals in the diocese from providing emergency contraception to rape victims, a restriction he later eased.[3] He also fired a teacher at a Catholic high school for inviting a speaker to discuss the ordination of women to the priesthood.[3] During Myers' tenure the diocese saw a rapid increase in vocations to the priesthood, with many seminarians being drawn to his more conservative theology.[4]

In August 2013, the Diocese of Peoria settled a sexual abuse lawsuit for $1.35 million. The plaintiff, Andrew Ward, had accused Thomas Maloney, a diocese priest, of molesting him during the 1990's when he was eight years old.[5] The lawsuit claimed that Myers, then bishop in Peoria, allowed Maloney to remain in ministry despite evidence of prior sexual abuse. Maloney was later accused of sexual abuse by three more victims.[6]

Archbishop of Newark[edit]

On July 24, 2001, Pope Paul II appointed Myers as the fifth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark and third superior of the Mission Sui Iuris of Turks and Caicos. He was installed on October 9, 2001, and the pallium was conferred on June 29, 2002.[1] Though the customary form of spoken address for an archbishop is "Your Excellency", Myers preferred to be addressed as "Your Grace",[7][8][9] which is customary in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In 2001, Myers banned eulogies at funeral masses, saying that some of them were inappropriate and too long. After pushback from parishioners, he reversed himself.[3] On April 1, 2004, Myers criticized a group of law students at Seton Hall University for honoring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor because she allegedly favored abortion rights for women.[10]

In 2002, the Dallas Morning News listed Myers among bishops and diocese administrators who had allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to continue working.[11]


In 2005 and 2007, the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark paid financial settlements to two priests who had accused Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of abuse. According to Cardinal Wuerl, no one from the Archdiocese of Newark informed him of these settlements, even though the retired McCarrick began living on the grounds of a seminary in the Archdiocese of Washington.[12]

Fugee case[edit]

In 2001, Michael Fugee, an archdiocese priest at St. Elizabeth's Parish in Wyckoff, New Jersey, was accused of molesting a 14 year-old boy on multiple occasions in the 1990's. Fugee confessed to police in 2001 to fondling a teenage boy, but later recanted it, saying he had been pressured by investigators.[13] He was charged, tried and convicted in 2003 of criminal sexual contact. However, Fugee's conviction was overturned in 2006 by an appellate court.[14] To avoid a retrial, Fugee signed an agreement with the Bergen County, New Jersey, Prosecutor's Office in 2007. He agreed to a lifetime ban working in contact with children. The archdiocese co-signed the agreement, promising it would supervise Fugee.[15]

In September 2009, the archdiocese assigned Fugee as chaplain at Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark. However, after learning about Fugee's record, Saint Michael's demanded that the archdiocese remove him. The archdiocese later admitted that they never informed the hospital, only the head of the archdiocese chaplain's office.[14] In 2013, Fugee was discovered working in youth ministry at St. Mary's Parish in Colts Neck, New Jersey, a parish in the Diocese of Trenton. Myers said he was unaware of Fugee's youth work and immediately suspended him.[16][17] There were calls for Myers to resign, including from members of the New Jersey State Legislature, because of his handling of the Fugee case.[18] In early 2014, the Bergen County prosecutors agreed to not press new charges against Fugee if the church laicized him. In May 2014, the Holy See removed Fugee from the priesthood.[15]

Coadjutor archbishop[edit]

On September 24, 2013, Pope Francis named Bishop Bernard Hebda as coadjutor archbishop of the archdiocese to assist Myers. However, on June 15, 2016, Francis named Hebda as the new archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.[19] Hebda was not replaced with another coadjutor.


Myers was 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.[1]

Myers also served as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts at the Holy See. He was also a member of the board of trustees at The Catholic University of America; and served on the board of the Pontifical North American College and Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.[1]

Myers' hobby was writing. He is the co-author with Gary K. Wolf of Space Vulture, a 1950s -style pulp science-fiction pastiche novel published by Tor Books in 2008.[20]

Retirement home controversy[edit]

In February 2014, the New York Times reported that Myers planned to retire to a "palace" being expanded to 7,500 square feet (700 m2) at his direction in Pittstown, New Jersey.[21][22] The home was then assessed at $776,700.[23] The improvements were estimated to cost at least $500,000 with architects' fees. Furnishings promised to add to the existing $500,000 bill.[23]

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness defended the installation of a 14 by 7 feet (4.3 m × 2.1 m) pool by saying "The press says it's a hot tub; it's a whirlpool...He's getting older — there are therapeutic issues."[24][25] Myers' residence was the object for more when the diocese closed an elementary school that helped immigrant children for lack of funds. Dorothy Gawronski said, "It was a loved place, that school, but the church, I don't think it's rich anymore."[26][27]

NJ.com contrasted Myers' residence with the lifestyle of Pope Francis, said to live frugally. Francis had previously urged bishops to avoid living "like princes", advocating a "poor church for the poor."[28][29] Charles Zech, from the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova University business school, said that Myers was ignoring Pope Francis and taking money out of the pockets of parishioners.[30] A petition requesting that Myers sell the property garnered 17,000 signatures.[31]

In a 2016 interview, Myers said that "the cash used for the construction was eventually covered by a restricted donation intended for housing for church leadership. He said that in 2015 the archdiocese had sold another home used by a previous archbishop; the sale proceeds and the restricted donation, "more than paid for" the addition to his residence."[32] After Myers moved back to Illinois in January 2020, the archdiocese announced that it would sell Myers' residence.[32]


Francis accepted Myers' resignation as archbishop of Newark and superior of the Turks and Caicos on November 7, 2016.[33][2] Myers moved near his family in Illinois in January 2020, as his physical and mental health declined.

John Myers died on September 24, 2020 in Ottawa at age 79.[34]


In May 2004, Myers published a pastoral letter saying that Catholic elected officials who supported abortion rights for women should not offer communion during mass. This letter prompted Democratic Governor James E. McGreevey, a Catholic supporter of abortion rights, to state that he would no longer seek communion at mass.[3] Myers then issued a statement saying that his letter was not aimed at McGreevey.[35]

On April 30, 2010, Myers expressed concern about a planned offering of a course on same-sex marriage at Seton Hall University, saying it "troubles me greatly".[36][37][38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Most Reverend John J. Myers – Biographical Information". Archdiocese of Newark. Archived from the original on April 8, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Archbishop John Joseph Myers [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Kocieniewski, David (May 30, 2004). "An Archbishop's Hard Line Courts Loyalty and Conflict". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  4. ^ "Priesthood Plays in Peoria as Recruiting Thrives : Clergy: Diocese has ordained more men in the last year than dioceses 10 times its size. Much of the credit goes to a conservative bishop who cultivates aspiring priests". Religious News Service. L.A. Times. July 6, 1991. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  5. ^ NJ.com, Mark Mueller | NJ Advance Media for (August 13, 2013). "Church pays $1.35 million in suit alleging Newark archbishop protected abuser in Illinois". nj. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  6. ^ "Peoria diocese pays $1.35 million to settle suit against Archbishop Myers | News Headlines". www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  7. ^ Powell, Michael (February 19, 2014). "A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace". New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "Archbishop's million-dollar retreat angers New Jersey faithful". FOX News. March 2, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  9. ^ For the use of "His Grace" as his reference style see: 1, 2 Archived September 16, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, 3, 4 Archived September 16, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, 5 Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 6, 7 Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, 8 Archived November 30, 2014, at archive.today 9 Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Gafner (NYT), Yaniv (April 21, 2004). "Metro Briefing | New Jersey: Newark: Archbishop Rebukes Seton Hall Students". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  11. ^ Egerton, Brooke; Reese Dunklin. "Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on February 12, 2004. Retrieved November 26, 2008. Alt URL
  12. ^ Flynn, JD (July 31, 2018). "What might happen for McCarrick, and for the Church in the US". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fugee Police Statement". Documentcloud.org. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  14. ^ a b M. Kathleen Kelly/For The Star-Ledger (October 16, 2009). "Archdiocese removes priest from hospital in Newark after learning of molestation history". NJ.com. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Vatican expels Newark, N.J., priest Michael Fugee from priesthood". National Catholic Reporter. March 18, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  16. ^ Buettner, Russ (May 13, 2013). "Newark Archbishop Is Criticized for His Handling of an Abuse Case". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  17. ^ "Rev. Michael Fugee Scandal: 3 More Resign In Controversy Around Accused Priest". Huffingtonpost.com. May 6, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  18. ^ Mueller, Mark (May 1, 2013). "Newark archbishop, Monmouth County pastor face new calls for resignation in priest scandal". nj.com.
  19. ^ "Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  20. ^ Kahn, Joseph P. (February 28, 2007). "'Roger Rabbit' creator Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Myers travel back in time and conquer the universe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  21. ^ A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace, by Michael Powell, February 19, 2014, New York Times
  22. ^ Mueller, Mark (February 17, 2014). "Newark archbishop's future retirement home undergoing a $500K addition". The Star Ledger. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Newark archbishop turning luxury home into a mansion for $500G: report". New York: NY Daily News. February 22, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  24. ^ "Newark archbishop turning luxury home into a mansion for $500G: report". New York: NY Daily News. February 22, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  25. ^ Powell, Michael (February 19, 2014). "A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace". The New York Times.
  26. ^ Powell, Michael (February 19, 2014). "A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "Newark archibishop's retirement home expansion builds up frustration: Letters". NJ.com. February 20, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  28. ^ "Newark archbishop's future retirement home undergoing a $500K addition". NJ.com. February 17, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  29. ^ "Newark Archbishop's pricey retirement home spurs backlash as parishioners withhold donations". NJ.com. March 2, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  30. ^ Blair, Leonardo (February 18, 2014). "Newark's Archbishop Under Fire for Making Lavish $500K Addition to $800K Retirement Home Despite Pope Wanting 'Poor Church'". Christian Post. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  31. ^ Mueller, Mark (April 12, 2014). "Angry about archbishop's pricey retirement home, parishioners to deliver 17,000 signatures Sunday". NJ.com. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  32. ^ a b Koloff, Abbott. "Newark archbishop moves to Illinois, controversial NJ retirement home to be sold", NorthJersey.com (USA Today), January 28, 2020
  33. ^ "Pope Francis names new cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark". CRUX. November 7, 2016. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  34. ^ "Archbishop John Myers, retired Newark archbishop, dead at 79". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  35. ^ Kocieniewski, David (May 22, 2004). "Archbishop Denies Scolding McGreevey". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  36. ^ Austin, Charles (September 6, 2001). "Newark bishop's legacy is mixed". Bergen Record. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  37. ^ New Jersey.com: "Newark archbishop questions plan for Seton Hall University gay marriage class" May 1, 2010
  38. ^ Cardinal Newman Society: "Archbishop of Newark Criticizes Same-Sex 'Marriage' Course at Seton Hall" Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine April 30, 2010

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Newark
July 24, 2001 – November 7, 2016
Succeeded by
Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
October 9, 2001 – November 7, 2016
Preceded by Bishop of Peoria
January 23, 1990 – July 24, 2001
Succeeded by