"March Madness" and the case against Fr. Corapi

Dr. Gerard Nadal — a frequent visitor and commenter here — says aloud on his own blog what many have been thinking:

It is possible that the allegations are true in whole, or in part. While I strongly doubt that may be the case, it is nevertheless a possibility, grounded in the reality of past cases of very public clergy, and people should have that level of awareness. That of course raises what for me is the absolute certainty of a grotesque immorality that has been committed here, though not by Father Corapi. He has been placed on administrative leave, which is tantamount to being tarred and feathered in public, before any reasonable investigation has taken place…

…Innocent or guilty, the minimum standard of due process and the presumption of innocence ought to apply to our priests, as they do for the rest of us. That increasingly they do not is a sin greater than a priest’s dalliance. Our priests sacrifice marriage, family, career, etc for us. It’s about time the laity demand justice for the accused. If we don’t, we deserve empty seminaries.

Check out the rest.

Also blogging, and adding context: Diane over at Te Deum Laudamas.

  • Deacon Bill

    This is not “March Madness”, nor is it overkill by the bishop involved. People, it is called “prudence” and it is a virtue that we Catholics value. “Administrative leave” is just that: it is not — regardless of the spin given it — a punishment, nor is it a judgment about guilt or innocence.

    I served a 22-year career in the Navy. If someone was accused of something serious, routinely such a person would be placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

    I would urge people to remain as completely neutral and objective as possible here. Just because this particular priest is popular and a media “star” doesn’t justify using procedures and methods that would not be used with anyone else.

    For Dr. Nadal to claim that following such procedures is a “greater sin” that “a priest’s dalliance” is risible. One of the many things realized since Dallas is that far too many “exceptions” to policy were made because “this priest would never have done THAT” only to find out later that the claims were true. Is this a hardship on the priest involved? Of course it is. But the best thing to do right now is what anyone else would do who is perhaps innocently accused: cooperate with civil and ecclesiastical investigators and work to have it all resolved expeditiously.

    God bless,

    Bill

  • Jeff

    That was great Bill.

  • Mark S.

    I have to agree with Bill. The real issue is that the whole Church is suffering for years of abuses and now there needs to be care not to over or under react. The other sad reality that is universally human is that people inevitably believe accusation equals guilt. The best remedy now is earnest prayer for justice and healing.

    Mark S.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Respectfully, Deacon Bill, I disagree.

    Elizabeth Scalia said it well. It’s tantamount to a bullet in the temple. “Not Guilty” is not the same as “Innocent”. There are no children involved here, and no criminal charges of rape, so I might suggest that your invocation of Dallas moves beyond risible. It is the very tarring and feathering of which I speak.

    Were children involved, then surely prudence would dictate that an immediate suspension take place. However, your naval experience does not make such maneuver any more moral than the corporate world’s excesses and overreactions described by Scalia’s husband in the link above.

    Now, perhaps Father Corapi is guilty as sin and is trying a desperate defense in the guise of a strong offense. Time will tell. While I enjoy watching him when I have a rare free hour, I’m by no means a Corapi groupie. However, I stand by my words, because I’m sick of the witch hunt against our priests and the spinelessness of the leadership. They sure are good at destroying the good names of innocent priests before a thorough investigation. Juxtapose that with their inability to stand up to the Catholic members in the leadership of the Culture of Death in Washington DC.

    It isn’t Corapi’s behavior that I defend, as I don’t know what happened. It’s the appalling lack of due process ad the presumption of innocence involved.

  • Deacon Bill

    Well, I guess that’s about all to say, then!

    I think the bottom line of our disagreement is this, Dr. Nadal: What you see as “appalling lack of due process” is, in my judgment, just the opposite: it is exactly the due process that is called for.

    God bless,

    Bill

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    God Bless Deacon, and thank you for your ministry.

    God Bless,

    Gerry

  • RomCath

    The problem is that even if the priest is cleared and the charges found to be totally false, the priest’s name and reputation are forever tarnished. It can never be completely recovered. That is not due process.

  • http://fromthepulpitofmylife.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann

    I recall that Cardinal Joseph Bernardine, Archbishop of Chicago, was accused of sexual misconduct. The Cardinal humbly stood before the media and stated publicly that he had never violated his vow of celibacy. At a later date the accuser recanted. I do not think the Cardinal’s reputation suffered permanent damage. His life attested to his goodness in no uncertain terms.

    Will that happen for Fr. Corapi? Time will tell.

  • anthony

    It is amazing how so many will lament the lack of justice in all this, but then they go and make judgments and convict the bishops with no problem.

    I am not defending the bishops or Fr Copari, because NO ONE knows the facts.
    And except for the Father’s own statement on his blog…no one really knows any thing.

    Mr Nadal how do you know it was a Bishop who gave him the administrative leave?
    Fr. Copari says someone sent letters, but never said who put him on leave. As a professed member of a religious order it would normally have to be his major superior. But for you this is an example of the Bishops “witch hunt and campaign to destroy innocent men?” But we do not know who imposed the leave?

    NO ONE knows the content, how specific and how credible the letters are, but you are sure it is an example of spineless behavior by the bishops? And without knowing the facts, you are sure an immediate leave is just part of a campaign to wreck his reputation? Some how priests are not to be leave while there is an investigation? Yet every other profession (teachers, social workers, counselors etc) would be on immediate suspension.

    It is incredible that so many do the very thing they complain about…the rush to judgment without all the facts, the vilifying and slandering of Bishops and others because of personal ideology and agenda without knowing the facts. It is okay to attack Bishops without knowing the facts? Nothing spineless about slandering others without no credible facts?

    Rather than rush to judgments and use a situation to project one’s agenda and anger ….maybe we can just be patient and wait till all the facts come out.

    I agree with the above post, if Father is found innocent on all counts he will come out of this stronger and like Cardinal Bernardin with more stature and respect.

  • Marsha

    Fr. John Corapi preaches heavily against SATAN.
    I am not surprised that a public declaration and preaching against evil would be met with such a “trial”, so timely during LENT. A crucifixion again!
    It must please SATAN to see this debate.
    We know how this story ends, and the victory is CHRIST’S.
    AMDG

  • http://balancingtheledger.blogspot.com/ Joe

    We know very little but the first sentence in father’s posting does tell us this involves an accusation made by a former employee.

    In the Navy, the corporate world, the Church or anyplace else, an employer/employee relationship will take a situation like this both morally and legally well beyond a simple accusation of a liaison between consenting adults. For this reason I must respectfully disagree with Dr. Nadal it need involve only minors or a charge of rape to require an administrative leave when the parties are in an employment situation.

    As others have noted it is brutally unfair to Father Corapi and anyone else who is placed on leave and left with the stain of repairing a reputation when in fact they are innocent. Given the severity of the charge I am not sure what else can be done when a credible accusation is made but to place the person on leave, quickly investigate and get the situation addressed.

  • Joni

    It wasn’t the accuser who made the allegations public, it was Fr. Corapi himself. Someone above mentioned the case of Cardinal Bernadin’s accuser recanting a false allegation. Actually, Steven Cooke never recanted, but when he died of
    AIDS, he left $3 million to his family, when he had formerly been penniless.

    These allegations against Fr. Corapi may be entirely false, but Fr. Corapi has to understand that the Church erred grievously in the past in supporting the priests and throwing victims under the bus. Now they are trying to exercise an abundance of caution.

    When a police officer uses his firearm in the line of duty, he is immediately placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. This is par for the course. It’s Fr. Corapi who is making this public.

    FWIW, I recall Fr. Corapi saying on TV (EWTN) that the victims of priest sexual abuse need to “get over it!” That’s a direct quote, I swear it.

  • RomCath

    Cardinal Bernadin was not put on leave while the charges were investigated.
    I know a priest who was cleared and returned to ministry. He is always treated like damaged goods.

  • Jeff

    Fr Corapi is subject to his Bishop. ENOUGH said. Obey the Bishop respectfully and do not say anything or do (write) anything to undermine his stance…..we could be sinning ourselves. WE might be the ones being tested here folks.

  • Max Lindenman

    Let me ask a pointed question: What if some or all of the allegations turn out to be true? Are you all going to stop adoring Corapi and start despising him overnight? If so — wow. What a tough crowd.

    I know my attitude will depend on Corapi’s. If he makes a firm purpose of amendment, I’ll be right there in his corner. Plenty of my friends and relatives have abused drugs and alcohol — the less tittilating of the allegations against Corapi. At a couple of points, I could have gone that way myself if my pockets had been a little deeper.

    Writing an abusing friend off temporarily so as not to enable him makes good sense. Writing one off permanently because he disappointed you? Well, that’s understandable, too. If the person hurt you badly — if he borrowed money, broke promises, behaved disgracefully under the influence — then, yes, recovering any kind of positive feeling is bound to be very difficult. Trust? That might take a miracle.

    But I honestly don’t see how anyone here can claim to have been hurt in that manner by Fr. Corapi, should he turn out to have misbehaved. He didn’t wreck your car, did he? I know he didn’t wreck mine. Maybe that’s easy for me to say. I never idealized him. Call me a snob, but I like my gurus like I like my writers: dead. But snob or not, I see this as one instance where a Christian virtue — forgiveness — can be exercised on the cheap, and I don’t plan to pass up the opportunity.

  • Adele

    Thank you Deacon Bill. God bless you for your post! Great points Max, Joe, Anthony and Joni.

    There are three vows. I have been very scandalized by Fr. Corapi ever since I heard about the personal trainer, the boat and whatnot. Why is a professed religious living like that? When the vow of poverty goes, other things are in danger too. St Maximilian Kolbe said so.

    May the truth be told. Prayers for the lady involved. If she’s telling the truth, then in my mind she is very brave and doing Fr. Corapi and the Church a great service by telling the truth to those to whom it needs to be told and God bless his Superiors too. Fr. Corapi himself, has performed interventions on others who had fallen back into their old ways. (The nun who ended up in the house of prostitution- he ransomed her and got her back on the straight and narrow). If he needs it, may someone do the same for him.

    He said himself. “Don’t think I cannot end up in a crack house. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.”

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Part of the problem in cases like this is that the bureaucracies involved, whether Church or civil courts, are SLOW, SLOW, SLOW. Only a few decades ago courts handled even murder cases in a month or two–and they were no more inaccurate than today. In fact the U.S. Constitution guarantees a “speedy” trial since “Justice delayed is justice denied.” But nowadays resolution of cases whether in Church or in court can take years and years and years (I just saw on the news a person accused of murder finally going on trial 3 years after the first legal procedure.)
    Also, the Constitution says that the accused has a right to face his accuser. So how did we get to the grossly unfair state where the accuser is never named–even if the accuser is later found to be a liar– and the accused can’t sue because he is now a “public figure.”
    We recently had a teacher in my public high school falsely accused of sexual abuse of a student. The evidence was so not there he was found innocent by a jury after only a few minutes deliberation. Jury members were interviewed in the local newspaper and the common refrain was–Why was this case ever brought?
    The teacher in question was not on tenure yet. So the school committee did not hire him back for fear of bad publicity. He had to sell his house to pay his defense lawyers. And he couldn’t sue because the accuser’s family was broke and on welfare (the accuser had a free public lawyer). And, of course, the lieing accuser’s name was never published although every teacher and student in the school knew who the accuser was before the trial –a veteran liar, cheat, and all around con-artist.
    Our country used to be concerned that the accused got a fair shake since so much was at stake for the accused. But now if you are accused–you might as well be dead –whether you are guilty or innocent. How about the media doing as much screaming headlinism about found false accusers as they do when an accusation is made.
    It is also amazing how healing therapy used to be based on teaching forgiveness as the best healing mechanism, but now seems based on anger, getting even, and chasing big bucks in court as the healing mechanism. Have any studies been done lately to see what REALLY helps an abused person???
    I always have remembered the words of a falsely accused member of President Reagan’s Cabinet for some sort of alleged crooked activities. He had just been acquitted very rapidly by a Jury and said: “Now where do I go to get my reputation back?”
    Behind all of this is the way lawsuits can now be used to get a spurious form of justice and a jackpot for accuser and lawyer. ( I say spurious because juries and evidence are handled so differently in such courts) And this whole lawsuit scandal that the media endorses is being purposely used to bankrupt the Church as one now very rich lawyer, has bragged.

  • Max Lindenman

    Deacon John:

    I’m curious about something. Over the past three days, I’ve heard a lot of people cite English common law concepts like the right to a speedy trial, the presumption of innocence, the right of the accused to confront his accuser. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if someone doesn’t demand that Fr. Corapi be tried by a jury of his peers.

    Which of these traditions, if any, exists in canon-legal theory or practice? That’s a real question; I don’t pretend to know. I do know, though, that canon law has a very different heritage from ours, namely, Roman Law. That always seemed to me the reason why canonical proceedings looked so strange — and in some cases, so unfair — to outsiders.

    Now that insiders are starting to cry foul, I’m tempted to say, “Hey, kids. The Church isn’t a democracy, remember? Why the sudden concern for constitutional rights?”

  • Tom

    There is something to the personality that has this need to be the center of attention, to have control, to seek esteem, to have this craving need for security. Corapi is one of them. Knowing the behavior of addiction, it is possible that, it could have manifested itself in another way. Investigation and analysis is obviously justified as well as administrative leave because he has claimed by his position as a priest that he is to be an example. Then be an example, simply, quitely, humbly, allow the process that is in place to take place, by order of your Bishop. God will take care of the rest. Let go.

  • sj

    With regard to Cardinal Bernadin, all published reports I have been able to find indicate that Steven Cook recanted his charge against the Cardinal, though not the other priest he named. See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/23/us/cleric-s-ex-accuser-dies.html?ref=josephbernardin

  • naturgesetz

    Max Lindenman is right. THe U.S. Constitution does not control the Church. Martyrs have died for the freedom of the Church from civil control. References to the Constitution have nothing to do with the case.

  • http://Deaconsbench Paul Logan

    There is a new “Scarlet Letter.” Hester Prynne’s “A” for adultry has been replaced with the “A” a priest must now wear when placed on “Administrative Leave.” With this “A”, a man is forever branded as being “under suspician” since ostensibly “credible accusations” have been made against him. And even if he is exonerated — an outcome unlikely be feted by the press with as much fanfare as their suspensions — the priest will never be looked at the same and will have the cloud of suspicion overshadow him for the rest of of his life.

    But it is now much worse than to these men. Every priest is now under suspicion, whether accused, or not. It is a cruel reality that when the “new list” of twenty-one priests was about to be published in Philadelphia, that most Catholics and non-Caltholics alike quickly scanned the list to see if their parish priest was on the list. The belief that any priest could appear on the list means that every priest in now under scrutiny. Why; because they are Catholic priests.

    Our society has placed all Catholic priests in a new Collisium. The media offers a play-by-play of each tragety and revels in reporting the fall from grace of some priests as if it were a new blood-sport. But when they do so, they place all others in the same crucible and leave them defenseless. We should be ashamed since we are willing and often enthustiac spectators to this villification.

    To be sure, there have been horrific acts by some individual priests. Unfortunately, the responses offered by many Cardinals and Bishops have been feeble and legalistic. They are the shephards of their flocks and they must show that they are not afraid of the truth, but rather, the protectors of it. Whether out of personal fear or following “legal advice”, these men must speak the truth and not “throw” priests “under the bus” to placate anyone. Shephards protect their flocks so what is true must be addressed but what is false must be outed as such, too.

    Our society has a new vile form of “profiling.” Thanks to the actions of a very few men, all Catholic priests are now profiled as potential pedifiles. This abhorent profiling is as offensive as the profiling of racial and ethnic minorities, yet our most liberal champions of “civil rights” cower in the shadows lest they be perceived as protectors of preditors of children.

    In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch delivered his Closing Argument at the trial of Tom Robinson and said these words:

    Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family.

    In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson

    In the name of God, let us restore the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In the name of God, let us do our duty as Catholics.

  • Ben

    i dont know all the facts about the case against fr Corapi, so i cant make an educated judgment, but if his legacy is anything to go by, or at least what i know of it, i have confidence that hes telling the truth when he denies allegations against him.
    that being said, what we need to watch out for inturn is the damage to trust in our bishops and the church in general.
    maybe that could be part of the purification of the church that our Blessed Mother spoke of in the marian movement of priests book. just a thaught, i dont want to put the wrong idea in anyones head.
    regardless whats needed by all concerned is loyalty to the catholic church, and the review and application of the gospels of Christ.
    and i think fr Corapi gave an example of that in his blog.


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