Friday, April 1, 2011

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida Comments on Father Corapi Accusations

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, comments on the accusations against Father Corapi at his blog Abyssus Abyssum Invocat:

IT IS A MATTER OF JUSTICE, THE DISCIPLINING OF PRIESTS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT WITH AN ADULT, BUT UNFORTUNATELY GRAVE INJUSTICE IS FREQUENTLY DONE TO INDIVIDUAL PRIESTS AND TO THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD BY INDIVIDUAL BISHOPS AND RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS. public controversy over the announcement of the accusations against Father John Corapi, SOLT, and his suspension from exercising his priestly ministry offers an opportunity to reflect on the flawed procedure apparently being followed in too many dioceses of the United States these days in the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct not involving minors.  The procedure is flawed because it inflicts grave injustice on the priest and serves as a deterrent to young men thinking of offering themselves as candidates for the priesthood.
The procedure operates something like this.  A person accuses a priest of sexual misconduct (again, not involving a minor).  The priest is immediately suspended from active exercise of his priestly ministry while an investigation is launched into the truth or falsity of the accusations.

There is no need for a public announcement to be made that gives the name of the priest and the fact of the accusation and the suspension, and yet, all to often such a public announcement is made.  Such public announcement by a diocese almost always results in media exploitation of the news in a sensational manner to the detriment of the Catholic Church and its priesthood.  It seems that rarely, if ever, is mention is made in the announcement of the name of the accuser.

The investigation may take days or months or years to complete.  In the meantime the priest’s reputation is effectively destroyed and perhaps he is ‘thrown out on the street’ with no means of support.  The accuser, on the other hand, enjoys anonymity and suffers no loss of reputation or negative material consequences and in the case of an accusation later proven  to have been false the injustice to priest is great.

In cases where the priest is accused of having used force (rape or some other form of involuntary abuse)  there is some justification for not publishing the name of the accuser.  But, where there is reason to believe that the alleged sexual misconduct was effected through mutual consent there is no justification for not publishing the name of the accuser.

Under the present procedure it is too easy for a person to allege sexual misconduct (again not involving minors) for a variety of possible unworthy motives:  revenge, hope for monetary gain, hostility to the Catholic Faith, etc.  Such is reported to have been the case of the accusation against Father Corapi.  The only safe way to guard against damaging the reputation of individual priests and the Catholic priesthood in general  is to not publish the name of an accused priest until an investigation has proved beyond doubt the guilt of the priest.

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