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February 16, 2010

Renegade Phoenix Priest Laicized

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.

Below, is the official diocesan statement which should be read in conjunction with the diocesan paper's coverage of the story and a helpful Q&A statement which explains the specifics of what has happened here, theologically, canonically, and practically.

Needless to say, this man and the many who follow him need our prayers.

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)


  1. I do not understand where they say that any baptisms performed by Fushek would not be recognised by the Church - I thought anybody could baptise?

  2. The official diocesan statement gives good behind-the-scenes information on the laicization of Father Tomislav Vlasic.

  3. No, Layity can only do baptism if it a life or death situation for the child or for some person who wants to be a Catholic but might die. This person is Excommunicated from the Church and stripped of doing anything. Excommunicated means he is kicked out of the Church and I think he can only recieve confession but other than that; he can't doing anything.

  4. And anointing of the sick, come to think of it - I know the Church can suspend his faculties for witnessing weddings and hearing confessions but surely he has the power, still, to anoint (in the healing sense, not the absolution of sins sense)?

  5. I am guessing, Joseph, that that statement is imprecise with respect to Baptism, which would be illicit, if performed by him, but not necessarily invalid, if it were otherwise in proper form.

  6. Oh, I see. Thanks, Padre Pio2. Ignore my second question in that case. :D

  7. I did not see anything that said that Baptisms would not be recognized. It should be noted a Baptism using the proper formula is always valid regardless of the person performing it. That is why the Church recognizes the Baptisms from non-Catholics.

  8. Joseph,

    Anyone can baptize, but if they do so out of the confines of canon law, then the action is not licit. The one baptizing has to intend what the Church intends. It may be a valid sacrament, but it would be an illicit one. The Church would probably recognize that a baptism took place, but would ask that it be celebrated in a licit manner.

  9. Bishop Olmsted also needs our prayers. He must
    be heartbroken over this.

  10. This news should be sent out to the media as a BIG Press Release, showing that the Church IS doing something about this problem.