Dale Fushek officially excommunicated today

PHOENIX (AP) – The Phoenix Catholic Diocese announced Tuesday that former Monsignor Dale Fushek has been defrocked. The Vatican removed Fushek from his right to exercise the functions of the priesthood.

The Diocese said the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted received a “Decree of Dismissal” from the Vatican in which the Bishop was notified that the penalty of dismissal has been imposed on Fushek.

The Diocese said the penalty was imposed by order of Pope Benedict and the decision is not open to appeal.

Once the second highest official in the Phoenix Diocese, Fushek is charged with one count each of assault and indecent exposure, and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Fushek issued a statement Tuesday saying he chose not to participate or defend himself in the process, adding he is at peace and free to pursue God’s will.


The former Msgr. Fushek was once the most famous and pastorally successful priest in the Diocese of Phoenix.  He had started a national youth ministry movement known as Lifeteen which touched countless American Catholic teens across the land.  It all came crashing down when he was accused in 2004 of misconduct with a minor and some complicity in the sexual assault of another minor which he had witnessed.

The lawsuit was settled out of court by the Diocese for $100,000 without admission of guilt on his part.  While he had lost his faculties to celebrate the sacraments, he proceeded to form a new parish community outside the canons of the Church for which he was eventually defrocked and excommunicated.  That process is complete as of today.

I first met him at Notre Dame when he brought his Lifeteen program to campus for a week each summer.  His charisma was undeniable and the effect he had on teens was impressive.  He was a pied piper, to be sure.

It is still difficult for many to accept that someone who has done so much good could have abused minors or come even close to it.  Will cases like his draw into question anyone who has a gift for youth ministry?  Fortunately, the Church has excellent programs to educate clergy, staff and volunteers of the warning signs and red flags sent up by perpetrators.  If we had had those programs in place years ago, so much of this tragedy could have been prevented.

12 Responses to Dale Fushek officially excommunicated today

  1. thefrenchchick says:

    While I agree that if the programs we have now had been available years ago much tragedy would have been prevented, we need to remember that years ago the world focus was quite different.

    I was a teenager in the 1980’s. Back then people blamed the victim. Harsh but true. A friend was biking alone one summer day. She rode the three miles into town, stopped at the local grocery store for an iced tea, then began her three mile ride back home. It was just something to do in our very small town. As she got to the end of the sidewalk, she noticed a man biking toward her. She looked up, smiled, said hello and continued on her way. It’s what we do in small towns. She was about halfway home when something prompted her to look back. The man was following her. To shorten up a long story, as she was biking up a hill, he ran his hand down her leg. When she reported the incident to the police, the deputy who came out to her house asked her what she was wearing at the time. He asked her alot of questions.

    While I understand the need to gather evidence, what she was wearing was irrelevant. She wore the same things every teenage girl of that era wore. To suggest she was at fault in the incident because of what she was wearing (and he did) was ridiculous. But again, that was the era we were living in.

    Understanding that, I think, goes a long way toward understanding why no one realized what the real problem was for so long. And now that we do know, we can protect those who rely on us to do so. We never receive knowledge in one big lump but in small bites so that it can be properly digested.

  2. Pablo H. says:

    The Holy Father should spend time defrocking the Freemason Priests, and those in favor of freemasonry from the Phoenix Diocese.

    I would rather recieve Holy Communion from a fallen Priest than a freemason one.

    I call the Bishop’s Office every now and then. Each time I speak with someone that doesn’t have a clue about Catholicism. I called the Office once to ask for a novena, and was asked by the guy in charge, “What’s a Novena?” The fruit of freemasonry.

    We need to pray and do penance for our Priests. In the Phoenix Diocese there are many Holy Priests under vicious attacks from the freemasons that operate with much authority in Holy Mother Church.

    I understand we will have the wheat and chaff, but how many souls need to go to Hell before something is done? Child molestation is not the only problem in the Phoenix Diocese.

    The biggest problem is freemasonry.


  3. Fr. J. says:

    The contemporary charge of freemasonry in the Church isn’t novel, but it’s earnestness is. I suppose one could find any flaw and elevate it in ones mind to be the greatest one possible. Even failing to properly dust a statue can be magnified in ones mind to the level of contempt for all thing heavenly, eternal and good.

    So, naturally I am suspicious of popular trends amongst the Church’s critics which have little manifestation in the concrete world.

  4. Pablo H. says:

    Dear Padre J.,


    Scrupulous people are a pain in the neck, I agree. However, even Buzzards serve a purpose.

    My comment was made not as an imaginary creation of my mind’s eye, but from hard fought experience dealing with Arizona Freemasons. The attacks from them and the fights against their occult activities have been over many years and have gotten down to hand to hand combat.

    The Devil and his pals are not cream puffs.

    I spoke from experience. That experience is too long and numerous to herein contain.

    I will use a quote from America’s number one Freemason, Ben Franklin: “A word to the wise is sufficient”

    With the assurance of my Holy Rosary prayers for all your good work in the vineyard of the Divine Master,

    I remain yours truly in Jesus and Mary Immaculate.
    Santa María de Guadalupe Esperanza nuestra, salva nuestra patria y conserva nuestra Fe.


  5. Fr. J. says:


    Thank you for your prayers and for understanding my reticence in confirming the dangers of freemasonry in the Church without further study. Could you direct me and our 4 faithful readers to a dependable resource on the issue? Be assured of my prayers as well, especially today, Ash Wednesday.

  6. pablo says:

    Dear Padre J,

    Here are a few Roman Catholic declarations against Freemasonry:

    Behind the Lodge Door: Church, State and Freemasonry In America can be purchased at:


    A good Catholic Article on Freemasonry can be read at:


    A Catholic Freemason that needs to remove himself from the grasp of Satan need only go to Confession and renounce his vows.

    I would go to Confession with an SSPX Priest as they are properly trained in the evil of Freemasonry.

    Catholics need to be aware that Satan can appear as a beautiful Angel; the tricks used by the snake oil salesmen of Freemasonry have fooled many people.

    “contempt for all thing heavenly, eternal and good….” Freemasons like to trick people into thinking what they espouse is from Good and Holy. I spoke with a Freemason Minister for the Occult that told me when it comes to God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, all the Angels and Saints: “We realize without a shadow of a doubt all that is Good and Holy exists. We just hate it.”

    May God our Lord in his infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us his abundant grace, that we may know his most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.

    Let us pray for the Pope (Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto).


  7. Good to see this cleaning house including admitting that the great white hopes of many conservative RCs 25 years ago (‘give up that artsy old-fashioned stuff and do this instead – it’s of the Holy Spirit and the way of the future!’), from Ken Roberts to the Legionaries of Christ to this chap, were frauds.

  8. Not sure what your politics are but the conservative Catholic movement never depended on the likes of Dale Fushek nor the Legionaires for that matter. There are myriad thriving traditional Catholic orders around the world. The liturgical reform movement is in full sway. Vocations are prospering in many more traditional dioceses. Habits are returning in older orders among the younger blood.

    Without choosing sides for or against, I think it can objectively be said that the traditional movements in Catholicism are thriving and even taking some please in the failure of a liturgical loose wheel like Fushek.

    • I wasn’t referring to right-wing politics and said conservative not traditional for a reason: conservatives were the ’80s RCs who were sound on doctrine but anti-high church: ‘I like Vatican II; trads oughta give up that artsy old-fashioned stuff and be more like the charismatics, like that nice priest working with the kids in Phoenix’. IOW the kind of people who just like the liberals looked down on trads (‘not really Catholic’ was their fave putdown) or even high-church Novus Ordo (which was teeny-tiny back in the days of John Paul the Overrated: you had the Brompton Oratory, St Agnes Church in St Paul, MN and… ????). (Eastern Catholics were patronised because ‘they’re ethnic’ and doing so looked ecumenical; the Orthodox see this act put on by some RCs for what it is.)

      The conservatives are often the same people who loved Medjuwhatsit, throwing out high ecclesiology (the bishop says no and they blow him off) as well as high liturgics for a charismatic devotional mush-fest that’s an obvious fraud.

      There are myriad thriving traditional Catholic orders around the world. The liturgical reform movement is in full sway. Vocations are prospering in many more traditional dioceses. Habits are returning in older orders among the younger blood.

      Yes, yes, yes and yes!

      I think it can objectively be said that the traditional movements in Catholicism are thriving and even taking some pleas[ure] in the failure of a liturgical loose wheel like Fushek.

      That was my drift.

  9. Mac says:

    If the pope is infalliable then why are changes made in the Catholic doctrine…..If he can’t be wrong then there’s no reason to make changes, is there?
    Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever, so He didn’t make the changes, so where does the pope get the authority to make changes?—not from God…

    • Church infallibility, which Roman Catholics see the Pope’s office (not the man himself) as a function of, doesn’t mean you get to invent or change doctrine. The church defines doctrine, clarifying what was implicitly there all along, and once a doctrine is defined, nobody, not even a Pope, can change it. The Holy Father is the guardian of tradition not its master.

      Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever.

      Indeed. See above on the unchangeability of doctrine. He founded a church to continue the teaching authority he had while on earth.

  10. Michael says:

    Mac: “If the pope is infalliable then why are changes made in the Catholic doctrine…..If he can’t be wrong then there’s no reason to make changes, is there?”

    Could he provide few example of what was certainly a doctrine, and then demonstrate what the change is all about.

    Doctrine does change in the sense that what is implicit in the received Deposit of Faith is articulated explicitly, or what is articulated less clearly is formulated more clearly. However, once a particular point is asserted definitely, the assertion itself never changes although it can be formulated, articulated, stated, in a different way. That again is a sort of “change”.

    And then there are doctrines that are proposed infallibly (definitions by Ecumenical Council or Pope, or propositions which are not defined but are thought by the consensus of the Magisterium for a considerable time, referred to as a day to day teaching of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium); and doctrine that are not proposed infallibly. Once proposed infallibly what is asserted in such propositions cannot be changed; but the doctrines, which are not proposed infallibly, can be modified.

    So, Mac, do come off the fence and be more specific.

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