The Diocese of Phoenix announced today that the long-running saga of a former priest who, after being dismissed from ministry some years ago, and who has been running a charismatic para-church operation drawing hundreds to Sunday services, has been reduced to the lay state.
The Diocese of Phoenix announces that the former Monsignor Dale J. Fushek has been returned to the lay state by the Roman Catholic Church through a process that is commonly referred to as “laicization.”
In January of 2010, Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, received a “Decree of Dismissal” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“CDF”) in Rome, in which the Bishop was notified that the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has been imposed on the former Monsignor Dale J. Fushek. The CDF, which addresses offenses against the Sixth Commandment that are committed by priests and deacons with minors, issued its decision ex officio. This means that the penalty was imposed by order of Pope Benedict XVI and further, that the decision is not open to appeal. By the same Decree, Mr. Fushek has also been dispensed from the obligations of the clerical state.
Under the Church’s legal system, a cleric can be dismissed from the clerical state for serious violations of canon law, by committing certain delicts or ecclesiastical crimes. In Fushek’s case, the Diocese of Phoenix received several accusations regarding Fushek’s alleged sexual abuse of minors, and referred those accusations to the Holy See. The Holy See then directed the Diocese of Phoenix to conduct an investigation into the allegations. The results of that investigation were forwarded to the CDF. Based on the CDF’s review of the findings of that investigation and on Fushek’s abandonment of his ministry and his subsequent schismatic acts, the CDF issued the “Decree of Dismissal” and forwarded it to the Diocese of Phoenix. Fushek has been notified of the laicization, which took effect the moment the Decree was signed, and he has been informed of its consequences.
It should be noted that the Decree was issued in connection with an ecclesiastical administrative proceeding that was conducted by the Holy See pursuant to Church law. It has no bearing on any criminal or civil case that may involve or affect Mr. Fushek. The intent of the Decree is to prohibit Fushek from continuing to function as a cleric or priest in the Roman Catholic Church and it eliminates any rights, obligations or benefits that might have previously followed his status as a cleric.
The penalty of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church that was previously imposed on Mr. Fushek remains in place. Thus, Mr. Fushek is not permitted to participate in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist or in any other sacramental or liturgical ceremonies of Catholic worship. Now, having been laicized, Fushek no longer has the rights of a cleric, which includes referring to himself as “Father,” “Reverend,” or “Monsignor.” Nor should he be addressed as such.
Bishop Olmsted again expresses his grave concern for Catholics who may be misled or confused by the continuing actions of Dale Fushek, particularly as they relate to the Praise and Worship Center. Catholics are reminded that any ceremonies, such as baptisms, weddings, confessions, and the anointing of the sick, if performed by Mr. Fushek or others at the Praise and Worship Center, are not legitimate sacraments for Catholics and would not be
recognized by the Catholic Church. Bishop Olmsted asks that we continue to pray for reconciliation and healing in this difficult situation. . . . (continue reading)