Miami's newest auxiliary bishop doesn't deserve the promotion, according to the oldest advocacy group for people abused by priests. Although Malta-born Monsignor Peter Baldacchino has never been accused of any wrongdoing himself, the group thinks his silence on the issue of abuse in his home archdiocese in Newark is worrisome.
It's true that the Archdiocese of Newark -- which Baldacchino reported to while serving for more than a decade in the Caribbean -- is troubled. Bishop-Accountability shows that 42 church officials there have been publicly accused of sexual abuse. Most notably, the Rev. Michael Fugee admitted to touching a young boy in 2001, and was not supposed to be around children afterward. Monsignor John Doran, the vicar general there, later resigned after it was revealed Fugee was still working with kids.
What's more, the Archbishop in Newark, John J. Myers, was just called out in the New York Times for building a 4,500-square-foot mansion in the midst of Catholic schools closing due to lack of funds.
David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests claims that Newark's troubles could become Miami's, because the new auxiliary bishop comes from a culture of secrecy and hypocrisy.
But the Archdiocese of Miami says the fear is ridiculous, especially considering that Baldacchino wasn't actually serving in Newark during Myers' tumultuous reign.
"Bishop-elect Baldacchino has been in the Turks and Caicos for 15 years as chancellor," says Mary Ross Agosta, communications director for the Archdiocese.
Clohessy, though, maintains that Baldacchino is guilty by association.
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"He's been in the top leadership of the diocese for more than a decade, and we don't see any evidence at all that he's ever done any outreach to survivors, or given evidence to the, police or done anything that breaks from the mold," he says.
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