Saturday, June 18, 2011

By The Company We Keep.

I am deeply sadden by the latest development in the Father Corapi situation. I have enjoyed listening to his talks and know several people whose conversion he brought about. Some things about how he ran his ministry rubbed me the wrong way. Nothing immoral, just somethings that gave the appearance of pride and arrogance. Also, I think that priests running special ministries with minimal order/diocese supervision is a recipe for problems. But now, Fr. Corapi is leaving the active priesthood and embarking on a "new ministry". In doing this, he places himself in some very unsavory company, more about this later.

I have absolutely no idea whether or not the accusation against him are true. Several years ago, I would have said absolutely not. But, considering the events of the last decade, I am not sure about anyone. All priests live under the Sword of Damocles. All it takes is one accusation from someone is not obviously insane and boom your gone for a period largely dependent on the good will of your ordinary, the diocesan lawyers, and the insurance company. Guilty until proven innocent is the order of the day. Father Corapi states the following:

Some of the things that might surprise you about the way some of the bishops treat accused priests are as follows:

1. The identity of the accuser is not revealed. You can guess, but you don’t actually know. Nor are the exact allegations made known to you. Hence, you have an interesting situation of having to respond to an unknown accuser making unknown accusations (unknown to the accused and his counsel).

2. The persons chosen to investigate the allegations normally have no qualifications to do so. They certainly didn’t graduate from the FBI academy, nor do they have any other background to qualify them to interrogate or otherwise interview witnesses.

3. There are no set rules of evidence or norms of procedure.

4. You are for all practical purposes assumed guilty until you can prove you are innocent. This one is truly baffling. No civilized society operates that way. If you are accused of something you are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

5. The accused and his counsel have no right to obtain and review any of the evidence against him.

6. The accused and his counsel are not provided the names of witnesses, nor are they permitted to cross-examine them.

7. There is a general unwillingness or outright refusal by certain of the bishops to abide by applicable statutes of limitations, both in canon and civil law. There are good reasons for these statutes. Time has a way of clouding memories and distorting perceptions.

Dead on. The Dallas Charter is ripe for abuse. At the very minimum, bishops need to be subject to it, the concept of a substantiated allegation needs to be clearly defined, a time line for resolution needs to be established, and it needs to be made clear that the priest does not need to be proven innocent but rather proven guilty.

It is an awful situation, but it does not justify leaving the active exercise of the priesthood. In doing this, Fr. Corapi is join the ilk of Cutie, Fushek, Fox, and Milingo. Not their heresy or sin, but their refusal to be subject to the authority of the Church. Instead of submitting to the authority of the successors of the Apostles, he is forming his own ministry and publishing his autobiography. Fight injustice certainly, but do it as a priest under the authority of the bishops and his superiors. Instead, he is acting like a protestant.

P. S. Bishops and superiors need to do much more in supervising and monitoring priests in special ministry, 'celebrity priests', and others in dangerous situations such as those living in apartments or condos (this just shouldn't be allowed, period).

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