On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed “credible” in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church’s procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that, but it seems, once again, that they now don’t have to deem the complaint to be credible or not, and it is being applied broadly to respond to all complaints. I have been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of this.
I’ll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty “just in case”, then through the process determining if he is innocent. The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.
All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.
Well, all I can say is I really hope for the sake of his soul, for the church and the faithful who regard Corapi as something of hero that these allegations are false, but we must wait and see. This is not the first time a prominent priest has been publicly accused — recall Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, whose accuser eventually recanted and begged his pardon — and it won’t be the last.
That the accusation is made during Lent seems almost pro-forma; I am already imagining the sorts of lurid headlines we’ll be reading — if not about Corapi, then about someone else — come Holy Week.
Having known a couple of clerics who were accused of making improper remarks or advances toward women and ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, I have some sympathy for Fr. Corapi; right now the church is exquisitely aware of all her failings and sins and at this point simply being accused is enough to convict, in the eyes of many.
An accusation made against a priest, or a layman is a powerful thing – it is an assassin’s bullet to the psyche and reputation of the man as immediate and thorough as a point-blank bullet to the temple. Because it is so serious, one hopes it is never made lightly. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is not. We simply do not know which is the case here, but even if he is cleared, this will forever be part of Corapi’s biography. Still, let’s hope that this is not true. Better to have a bio with an asterisk than an utter disgrace.
So let’s pray for Corapi, and for his accuser. If she has leveled a false charge, she has done something heinous — and it’s heinous to do this to a man whether he is a priest or not –and needs help.
If she is telling the truth, they both need help and healing.
My husband noted to me that the immediate stigma attached to a man accused of sexual impropriety in the corporate world is not so very different than it is in the church’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Corporations are so afraid of being sued for not taking a woman’s claim seriously that they react immediately, often harshly (sometimes a fellow is advised not to even fight to clear his name, but to simply resign).
A friend just wrote to me that he was once accused of sexual impropriety for making an innocuous comment to a woman in the lunchroom; he was immediately subjected to the most demeaning interrogation, before the misunderstanding was cleared up, but the event so soured him that he found another job, anyway.
Real abuse, real sexual impropriety should never be countenanced by any institution or business. No woman should have to put up with it. But it does seem to me that there should be a reasonable willingness to hear all sides, before guilt is assumed and swift retribution dispensed. Once a good name is smeared, it’s very difficult to remove all that tarnish. Nothing short of a woman’s coming out publicly to recant the accusation can really do it.
It strikes me that this is another one of those situations described by Anthony Esolen, in which “the woman can’t lose.” She is allowed to maintain her anonymity while someone else’s name is immediately and forever darkened.
Meanwhile, speaking of darkened, I do recall Corapi was dealing with some sort of health disorder a few years ago (I don’t follow him closely, so I am short on details) and taking on a health regimen can certainly change one’s appearance, but if I were Corapi, I’d ditch the tanning booth for the duration. I’m sure it’s perfectly innocuous and innocent, but it’s unhelpful at the moment.
UPDATED: A facebook page in support of Corapi! God bless the internets! How did we ever organize, before?
Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, and of workers and fathers and many, many priests. Read Pat Gohn’s excellent piece and perhaps whisper up a “St. Joseph, Pray for Us” on behalf of all of our priests, our fathers and the pope! And pray for our seminarians — they are miraculous and heroic!
UPDATE II: I’ve written more here
Archbishop Timothy Dolan recounts a recent, painful exchange in an airport.
Max Lindenman: mentioning Corapi in a different vein.
Frank Weathers: on Catholic Cults of Personality