Deacon Bill Ditewig, who has serious experience in the matter of priestly investigations has a very helpful post up on his site. First and foremost, he admits the system is flawed, but maintains it also has its strengths, and that the issue pertaining to John Corapi and his resignation — or whatever it is — from the priesthood has nothing to do with the so-called Dallas Charter:
It has never been my intention to comment much on l’affaire Corapi. We simply don’t know enough the facts surrounding the case to comment intelligently about it. However, one theme that has run through the various communiques issued by the Corapi camp has been about the ecclesial process looking into the matter. Essentially, and variously, the process has been described as lacking transparency, as being fundamentally flawed, and even “of the devil” and so on. While I don’t know the facts of the case, I do have some familiarity with the process, and want to comment on it briefly. I do so out of concern over many of Corapi’s “fans” who are now vilifying and demonizing “the bishops” and their process.
Let me begin with full disclosure: I was a member of the USCCB’s senior staff for more than five years (2002-2007), and a consultant to the USCCB before that and since. It is in this capacity that I offer some observations.
1) I readily acknowledge that no human legal process is without flaws, and I’m not suggesting here that the process being followed is flawless or perfect. On the other hand, it has good points as well.
2) Despite innuendo and even some statements otherwise, this matter is NOT subject to the so-called “Dallas Charter” which address clergy sex abuse cases dealing with children, and vulnerable adults. So, there should be clarity here: Whatever is going on with Corapi vis-a-vis this particular case — which as I understand it deals with the claims of an adult woman against Corapi — it does not involve the Dallas Charter and its provisions. So, discussions which suggest otherwise are grossly inaccurate and should be discounted.
3) So, what process IS being invoked? Rather simple, actually: it is the process contained in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church (the Eastern Catholic Churches have their own Code of Canons). When a cleric is accused of a crime, he is subject both to ecclesial law (“Canon Law”) and to civil law. The legislator for a cleric is either his bishop (if he is a diocesan deacon or presbyter) or his religious superior (if he is a member of a religious order). When religious orders minister within a particular diocese, of course, they do so under the authority of the diocesan bishop. For example, if the bishop has asked the Franciscans to staff a particular parish in the diocese, the Franciscan superior will make the actual assignment (he’ll pick the priest to be assigned), but the priest will be responsible both to his own superior and also to the diocesan bishop.
Read it all. Clarity, amidst so much that is vague or unknown, is helpful!
Also, Devin Rose has: a defense of Bishop Mulvey of Corpus Christi, of whom I know nothing:
Firstly, even though Bishop Mulvey was only recently appointed to Corpus, I assume that Corapi is speaking of him and not the former bishop when he made his comments.
I met Bishop Mulvey (when he was Father, and then Monsignor) during my ten years in Austin. I heard Mass from him many times and talked with him as well. He always struck me as a priest with a very gentle spirit. Not all priests have that gift, but he did. I understood that he was involved in the ecclesial movement Focolare, which seemed to fit his personality well.
Eventually, after Bishop Aymond was transferred to Louisiana, Msgr. Mulvey became the administrator for the diocese until Bishop Vasquez was chosen. Mulvey was then himself moved and raised to the epicopate. He’s only been bishop in Corpus for sixteen months or so.
Thus, it pains my heart to hear Corapi’s critical words toward him. Corapi didn’t think he could receive a fair trial, but everything I know about Bishop Mulvey says otherwise. Pope Benedict has appointed so many good bishops, including Mulvey, that I can’t help but think that even if Corapi didn’t get a fair hearing at one level, he could have appealed and surely received justice at a higher level.
So, it seems to be one great misunderstanding–no doubt instigated by the Devil, but also one that God would have made beautiful–had only Corapi trusted the Church and humbled himself, even in the face of what very well could be false and unjust accusations.
A few more notable pieces:
Deacon Greg: What an ex-priest can and can’t do
Pat Archbold: First Thoughts on the News
Sr. Lisa Doty: Prayer and the Priesthood
Benedictus Dominus: How did we get here?
the state of due process for accused priests
Theater of the Word, Inc
Why I am Catholic
Meanwhile, since some wondered about it in the comments section of another thread, the “f you” (facebook and youtube tiles) on the blacksheepdog site have had a T put between them for twitter, so, it’s no longer “f you.”