Former priest facing molestation charges excommunicated

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Former Mesa priest ex-communicated
azfamily.com

PHOENIX -- Phoenix's Catholic bishop has excommunicated a priest who started a nondenominational ministry after the priest was charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct.

The action announced Monday against Monsignor Dale Fushek, once the diocese's second highest-ranking administrator, was a response to his creation of the Praise and Worship Center in Chandler.

In excommunicating Fushek and another Catholic priest who helped open the ministry, the diocese makes no mention of the criminal charges against Fushek. Fushek and the other priest are now prohibited from receiving the church's sacraments.

In his criminal case, Fushek is accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, indecent exposure and assault stemming from hearing confessions and counseling boys between 1984 and 1993.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

PHOENIX - The following is a statement from the Diocese of Phoenix:

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, has issued a Decree of Excommunication to Reverend Monsignor Dale Fushek and Reverend Mark Dippre.

Fushek and Dippre have incurred the censure of excommunication because they have chosen to be in schism with the Catholic Church by establishing and leading an opposing ecclesial community known to the public as the Praise and Worship Center. Both priests have consistently refused to comply with explicit directions by Bishop Olmsted to discontinue engaging in public ministry. The excommunications were incurred after repeated offers of reconciliation were ignored. The decree of excommunication by Bishop Olmsted declares the censure that Fushek and Dippre, as ordained priests, have brought upon themselves. The purpose of these sanctions is to reconcile both men with the Catholic Church and to preserve the integrity and unity of the Diocese.

As excommunicated priests, Fushek and Dippre cannot participate in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of worship. They are also prohibited from celebrating or receiving any of the sacraments. In addition, they forfeit the benefits of dignity, office, or any function that they had previously acquired in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Olmsted continues to express his grave concern for Catholics who may be misled or confused by the actions of Dale Fushek and Mark Dippre. The Diocese of Phoenix does not endorse the actions of these excommunicated priests and we encourage Catholics to refrain from attending or supporting the Praise and Worship Center. We remind Catholics that the ultimate form of praise and worship is and always will be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we urge them to keep the Mass as the center of their lives. There is no substitution for the graces received at Mass and no prayer more edifying.