[This post has been updated (may add more as I find further info or reactions so scroll down)]
Fr. Corapi, well known for his catechism videos and talks has been placed on administrative leave. Here is the statement from his website:
A Call for Prayer
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.Elizabeth Scalia, columnist for First Things Magazine, summed it up well:
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.Deacon Greg Kandra, also blogging on this, has well over 80 comments thus far.
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).
continue reading Elizabeth's post at The Anchoress
Let's pray for all involved and that the truth come out. We know from past experience that a mere accusation is enough to end a priest's public ministry. Even when later cleared, such as when a person recants or charges are proven false, they often cannot get back into public ministry.
I'll have more to say on this later in another post I've been preparing.
[UPDATE 1: Saturday 8:43 pm EDT)
Steve Ray is reporting: "I also heard from a reliable source he’s been suspended from EWTN pending investigation."
Also, after some reflection on Fr. Corapi's statement on his website, I have some questions:
1) Since he is a religious order priest with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T.), I am interested to know who it was that put him on administrative leave? Was it a bishop? If so, which bishop?
2) Who is responsible for judging whether an accusation is considered "credible" and how do we know that enough information was not processed for that person to consider the accusation credible enough to put him on leave?
Dr. Gerard M. Nadal writes the following in "Fr. Corapi and March Madness", which I excerpt:
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. I see no indication in Fr. Corapi’s statement that his bishop has placed him on leave, and it may well be the action of his superior in his order. So before the bishop-bashing swings into high gear, we need some clarification.
However, we are not speaking of children. We are also not speaking of rape. The allegations seem to be about sex between consenting parties. They also happen to be about drug addiction. Regardless of who placed Fr. Corapi on leave, it is an outrage that we have devolved to the point where a man is denied due process and the presumption of innocence (An Enlightenment philosophy benefit, compliments of the protestants, trumping Catholic justice). A discreet investigation using Father’s whiskers, blood, and urine could easily put together a portrait reaching back months regarding drug abuse.I agree with this to an extent, but I want to caution that we are hearing only one side of the story thus far. We did not hear from the person who put him on administrative leave and do not know anything about the contents of the three-page letter other than what was generalized by Father Corapi. While there seems to have been very little time, we do not know that a drug test has not been performed.
A discreet investigation on the sex charges could also provide some clarity. Taking Father at his word, none of this was done prior to publicly trashing his good name. It’s madness.
If due process and the presumption of innocence are the new norm for our bishops, if the mere accusation of sin merits headline coverage, then our leadership has lost its way. Badly. The stress of such humiliation could well cause a relapse of the cancer and cost Father Corapi his life.
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.
God knows full well all that is happening and if Father Corapi is innocent as he claims, then perhaps the priest is being used as a poster child to fix a broken process.
Let's wait and see, and .... pray.
On a related note, I hear that Archbishop Dolan will be interviewed on clerical sex abuse on 60 Minutes tomorrow night. Be sure to watch or DVR it. I don't doubt that his blogpost about an encounter at the airport prompted the interview request (a good read for sure and I'm glad he stood up to the man, rather than turn the other cheek.
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