TRENTON – A week after Gov. Chris Christie laid into his presumptive gubernatorial challenger for calling for Newark’s archbishop to resign, the Senate’s top Democratic lawmaker joined the ranks of officials calling for the state’s highest-ranking Catholic official to step down.
Senate President Steve Sweeney issued a statement Wednesday demanding Archbishop John Myers resign surrounding controversy over allowing a priest who previously admitted to groping a boy to continue working with children.
“As the days go on, it becomes clearer and clearer that Archbishop Myers cannot remain in his position,” Sweeney said.
“Those who are put in a position of trust, whether it be through elected office, as a coach or as a person of faith, must be held to a higher standard,” he said. “And when we are talking about children, that need to trust those in charge leaves absolutely no margin for error. Archbishop Myers must step down now.”
Sweeney’s statement comes after Christie blasted state Sen. Barbara Buono during a Camden news conference last week, calling the likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate “irresponsible” for demanding Myers step down without first gathering additional information.
Buono had issued a statement earlier in the day calling for Myers’ immediate dismissal, saying “the decision to allow Mr. Fugee, an admitted sex offender, to spend time alone with children is incomprehensible.”
The statement spurred Christie, while agreeing published reports on the controversy were “disturbing,” to lash out at Buono.
“My suspicion is that before her statement was put out [last week], that Sen. Buono has not had a conversation with anyone in the archdiocese of Newark to examine their side of the story,” Christie said on May 1. “I will not be an irresponsible leader. I’ll be the responsible leader who finds out all the facts before I give an opinion.”
However, since Christie’s original statement, the priest at the center of the controversy, the Rev. Michael Fugee, and two youth ministers have resigned.
“The allegations are deeply disturbing, and the recent string of resignations in connection with them only makes the entire incident more troubling,” Sweeney said. “Moreover, the official story from Archbishop Myers, who continues to refuse to directly address the issue, has changed, leading to more questions.”