Skip to comments.Father John Corapi and the State of Due Process for Accused Priests [Catholic caucus]
Posted on 04/04/2011 7:45:22 AM PDT by Mary Kochan
Unlike many cases of accused Catholic priests, accusations against Father John Corapi have focused a spotlight on due process in the Catholic Church.
"A zero-tolerance policy without due process that de facto impugns the reputations of the accused is immoral. The Church has a duty to protect the innocent, even if the innocent is a priest. Of course, the Church has a moral duty to make sure that the scandal of abuse and cover-up is never repeated, but it cannot willfully sacrifice the reputations of the innocent . . . The end does not justify the means. I do not know that any of this applies to the Father Corapi case, but we have seen this happen in other cases too and it is wrong" Pat Archbold, March 20, 2011 at www.NCRegister.com/blog
Those are some of the sanest words I have read about the matter of Father John Corapi, a gifted priest who, at this writing, has been sidelined by accusations of sex and drug abuse brought by an unidentified adult woman.
Before I write further, I should point out that unlike many of those writing on this topic in the Catholic on-line world, I am not a follower of Father Corapi. I dont dislike him either. His preaching style and message just havent touched me the way they seem to have touched many others. I simply mean to say that I am not a disgruntled fan driven to champion the cause of a spiritual icon whose good name has been cast into the abyss. If Father Corapi never preached in public again, that fact alone would elicit no emotional response from me beyond my concern for justice.
Yet I am deeply troubled, by a zero tolerance policy that treats accused priests as if they were guilty...
(Excerpt) Read more at catholiclane.com ...
If anyone can take the current incoming fire, it’s got to be Father Corapi. He is the perfect one for this mission.
It is probably now time to scrutinize the “process” by which the activities of the guilty are, thankfully, immediately suspended, while the same process just as forcefully, and just as immediately, gravely injures the innocent who are deprived of due process.
The wickedness here and there of those priests found guilty was allowed to go on in so many cases for so many years that it gave cause for incidents to mount atrociously! In the Church’s effort to slam on the brakes to that awful process, the innocent are caught up and removed with no shred of evidence beyond the accusation alone.
The problem seems to be that the superiors of the accused priests decree “administrative leave” without voicing a shred of evidence, but for the accusation itself. Is that enough?
Father Corapi himself has voiced concern for the innocent priests injured by accusations. So, what is the answer when the process that thwarts the wicked in their tracks, so injures the innocent in his?
In the era before the Second Vatican Council, the psychology of priests regarding censure was quite different.
Blameless men of great sanctity like Padre Pio and St. John of the Cross accepted clearly unjust censures with silent gratitude rather than questioning authority or publicly defending themselves.
The example of the Euteneuer individual is deeply disedifying on this point. I hope Corapi does not follow his embarrassing example.
Well, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops messed up again.
During the worst days of abuse, bishops were complicit in covering up, in moving sex offenders from one parish to another without warning, and in sending them for psychological counseling instead of simply removing them from the priesthood. In their favor, those were revolutionary days throughout the whole culture, and they were told that psychological counseling was the right way to go. They were misled.
Move forward to the emergency conference to fix this mess, and that’s where the current injustices arose. Instead of admitting that they shared the blame, the bishops decided on their zero tolerance policy. Many of us at the time said that that was wrong, because it amounted to saying that anyone falsely accused would be considered guilty until proven innocent. The bishop’s conference refused to listen.
Since then, the bishops have continued to improve, as the old dissidents gradually retire and are replaced. But the Bishop’s Conference is still loaded down with the same dissident lay staffers who have helped cause so much grief over the years.
Nothing new here. Change to the worse happened with a rush, but change back to true orthodoxy will be exceedingly slow, and resisted at every step by the aging hippies who caused the problems in the first place.
“So, what is the answer when the process that thwarts the wicked in their tracks, so injures the innocent in his?”
Isn’t that the whole point of due process, so that the wicked and the innocent are sorted out?
“The zero tolerance policy is now unfortunately necessary and unavoidable because of past negligence and malfeasance.”
I’m not sure that I can buy that present injustice to innocent priests is necessary and unavoidable because of past injustice to victims.
And really when innocent priests are dragged through the mud or removed from service, we are all harmed.
Yes, Cicero, sadly I think you are right — the road back will be tough. But I think that public exposure of this injustice is needed just as much as public exposure of the cover-ups was needed too. If the bishops are going to feel pressured by public opinion, then its time the faithful were among the public whose opinion they feel pressured by!
It is not.
I didn’t write the article. But the feature of canon law in question in the article has nothing to do with presumption of innocence, but rather with prescription (like statute of limitations). Questions regarding presumption of guilt or innocence would be pertinent if canonical trials were being held, but they are not. That is really the exact point — NO canonical process is being used in many cases.
If only the Church had responded that way when I informed them of Euteneuer's abuse! Absolutely, if there are serious claims presented -- and backed up as mine were by my therapist, prayer helper, etc -- remove the priest from ministry at least while the claims are being investigated, so that he cannot be accessing and harming his victims!LINKS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST:
Mostly ‘Zero Tolerance’ is the result of what lawyers and lawyering and have done to society.
Isnt that the whole point of due process, so that the wicked and the innocent are sorted out? “ =========
You have answered my question with another question. I haven’t really a clue what “due process” means in the Church. That was my question. Maybe you could elaborate for me on the precise methodology of “sorting” it out. I’m left here still chasing my tail for the answer, realizing that what works in constitutional law and the courts of the US may not be exactly the same.
Civil authorities bring in people for questioning after reading rights, offering attorney, and charge individuals and set bail. Will that version of due process work in the Church as “due process”. I don’t think so.
The bishop is the canonical authority in his diocese.
He decides whether a priest is allowed to possess faculties in his diocese or not.
If a priest's ordinary decides to suspend him, he is suspended and there is no need for any trial or proceeding.
Again, your analysis seems to import English common law notions into canon law.
Your analysis seems to be grounded on the notion that a priest has some kind of right to exercise priestly faculties, that having his faculties suspended is akin to being arrested or held without bond, and that a priest has some kind of right to a trial to determine whether his ordinary had reasonable grounds for his suspension.
That is not how this works at all.
Faculties are a privilege, not a right, and priests possess them in an ordinary's jurisdiction at the ordinary's pleasure.
It's being clouded by the commentary on this thread.
There is no concept of "due process" in canon law for having privileges taken away.
Priests do not have a right to confer the sacraments or to preach - though they usually have an obligation to do so.
All the faithful - priests and laity alike - have the right to the essential sacraments and have the right to canonical process if those rights are impeded.
A priest who wants to hear confessions but is not allowed to is in a very different canonical situation than a priest who wants to have his confession heard but is not allowed to.
The same reason why this non-lapsed Catholic could never think once about leaving home.
Meeting Jesus in the flesh at every Eucharist.
wideawake, here is a document by Avery Dulles on the rights of accused priests: http://www.elephantsinthelivingroom.com/Rights_of_Accused_Priests.doc
Some of the things the document mentions as abuses may have since been obviated, because this document is a copy of an article published in 2004, but the part of it dealing with the canon law rights of accused priests has not changed.
The matter is covered by the commandment, "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor", which is of course a particular instance of the more general command to "love thy neighbor as thyself".
Anything other than innocent until proven guilty is repugnent to God. So too is the zero tolerance policy, which embraces the concept of "condemnation without just cause" as a particularly good and desirable evil. Where evil is defined as an act which is contrary to the moral code which is the embodied in the commandments.
” It’s being clouded by the commentary on this thread. “ ======
You’re right on the clouded commentary. Like trying to read code.
The bottom line is that for all our fussing for and against the decree of administrative leave, in not this case, but in that case and back again, one thing is certain, no one here or elsewhere is coming up with an alternative solution that fits both cases equally and satisfies the critics.
Though we grumble and harrumph, we can’t offer a neat and tidy resolution that’s superior to what the Church already has—at least I haven’t seen it yet.
” Where evil is defined as an act which is contrary to the moral code which is the embodied in the commandments. “ ========
How about this. Sexual liasons between a priest and a woman/women is a lesser evil than the same act turned vile with young boys who are under the charge of the priest. The Church’s zero tolerance and immediate administrative leave in this case is cheered, by both laity and public alike.
Now comes some innocent priest who is caught up in the same rule of course where the same application is grossly unfair. Simply put, it probably is a high price for the innocent to pay, but given the alternative, would you prefer the boy chasers be caught up in milder rules??
Question: for all the grumbling, who the heck has a better idea for an answer, that’s all I want to know????? What is the answer? Any bright ideas out there?
If someone is actually formally accused by the ordinary of a grave crime, then the accused definitely has a right to a canonical proceeding. But mere suspension and investigation are not an accusation. Corapi has not been formally accused of anything, to our knowledge.
His ordinary is entitled to suspend him while an investigation proceeds.
Spunkets talks of such a suspension as being the moral equivalent of "bearing false witness", which is extremely tendentious. An ordinary exercising prudence in a very serious investigation - a situation where he has to weigh the good of all the faithful entrusted to his care and not just the lucrative touring schedule of one priest - is hardly bearing "false witness" when he pursues a policy of "better safe than sorry."
RitaOK makes a very important point: what is the alternative policy to a zero tolarance policy? Should the standard be that the more popular a priest is, the more leeway should be accorded to him during an investigation? As they say, "the streets are watching" - the appearance of partiality toward individuals is, first of all, procedurally unsustainable and further, it reeks of "old boys' club" double standards and business-as-usual attitudes.
” If someone is actually formally accused by the ordinary of a grave crime, then the accused definitely has a right to a canonical proceeding. But mere suspension and investigation are not an accusation. Corapi has not been formally accused of anything, to our knowledge. His ordinary is entitled to suspend him while an investigation proceeds. “ ============
Sadly, the terminology in the language of the process may be the culprit here.
“Suspension” and “investigation” and “allegation” are terrible words. These words instantly finger the accused in a deeply negative manner, but may give some weight to the accuser....you know how it goes...”poor her”, or, “how brave “, while a huge question mark is instantly placed on the forehead of the priest, in the “eye of the street”, so to speak. ;)
My point is we may need to look at the terminology here.
We need new terminology that measures the length of the hanging rope equally for both the accuser and the accused.
Until the evidence is gathered and the facts unfold, we need terminology that more equally hangs the quest for truth over both partys equally, proportioned against the accuser as well as the accused to the same degree.
I don't know if Father Corapi is indeed guilty of the sins that he is being accused of committing against his Vocation and the Church, however, if he is innocent and it is proven, he will always have a stigma attached to him anyway. But than again, what choice do the Bishop's have. They have to relieve him of his duties until he can be proven innocent.
In this day and age, you have to have a zero tolerance policy because there will always be a hater that simply cannot wait to tattle on the big bad Church! Heaven forbid you take a breath and give it a small amount of time before suspending a priest from his order. Because if you are wrong, there really will be hell to pay!
Well, it’s unfortunate that Fr. Euteneuer’s case was not handled with “zero tolerance” when the victim first came to HLI and the diocese to proclaim the abuse she had endured at the hands of FTE, instead of HLI allowing Father to resign and to spew all sorts of half-truths and some outright lies to the public in that regard.
Hopefully, Fr. Corapi is innocent. I pray so hard he is, but the continuance of the statements that come out (and that he publishes on his site), shows he is being disrespectful of his superiors, and although that does not mean he’s guilty, it just doesn’t look so great. Prayers for our priests (maybe we should start with the seminarians?!) and our Church.
I think that all speculation about Fr. Corapi should be withheld until this has all been properly resolved by the parties responsible for taking charge of it.
I’ll leave that to his superiors.
As for Father Corapi, I do see your point. You are supposed to be perfectly obedient and lead by example. But, he may be trying to make a point to protect other Priests in the future. He is also a Sicilian, and let me tell you( I am half Sicilian) it is really hard for us to sit on our laurels when we feel that someone is being unjust in regards to our being!
I do think that he is kind of being unfair on the other hand because he knows how the atmosphere is now! The Church and religious institutions have to take everything seriously because of what happened in the past! If they don't and the charges are unfounded, the Church will lose even more credibility. We have been harmed enough!
I think that people need to back off of EWTN as well. I don't blame them for at least being cautious and being obedient.
Whether he is innocent or guilty, we will find out! People need to relax! It doesn't help to fight. To Father Corapi I say just turn the other cheek and let them slap that one. If you are truly guided by God and are in him, than you will always be victorious! Padre Pio was the proof of that!
My FR name was all Mr. Frogjerks idea!
I think that it sounds like Father E. is having some pride issues! Once he works that out, I think he will be okay. I pray for him all the time too! It’s a sad situation all around!
Ahhhhhhhh, blame it on the Mr.! LOL.