Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kafka, Heller and Corapi Have Much in Common

Thus Says Father Gordon MacRae of These Stone Walls

If there is someone on the planet whose opinion should matter on the affair of Father John Corapi, and the still to be proven accusations against him, that would be someone who has walked miles in similar shoes.  So, when Father Gordon MacRae published his latest thoughts at These Stone Walls, titled: "Good-Bye, Good Priest! Father John Corapi’s Kafkaesque Catch-22", I took notice and I highly recommend giving it a read and some thought.

I am concerned for Father Corapi's mental health today, as I have been while reading and listening to his own comments on the goings on that have been swirling around him over this whole matter.  It would be very stressful to have been caught in flagrante delicto.  There, pants figuratively at half mast, the sinner has his assets bared for all to see.  That was not the case here.  It must be even more stressful to find oneself pilloried for things beyond the pale, that are far beyond what the individual would ever commit in sane mind.

What is even more stressful, is to fall victim to a draconian process which much like being hauled in front of one of our Canadian or provincial Human Rights kangaroo courts (officially tribunals), where as Calgary lawyer and journalist, Ezra Levant demonstrated, the punishment is the crime. 

Father Corapi, and priests like Father Gordon MacRae, as well as others like Father Mark Gruber, are paying a heavy price for the sins of others. You can look at the left of this page and see labels for Father MacRae and for Father Gruber that will lead you to articles where I have made mention of their situations, and provided links in articles to other sources about them.

Most instances of sexual abuse going on between priests, and young people in particular, approximately 94% of those reported to the Church took place prior to 1990.  But, prior to 1985, priests who were accused of sexual abuse were buried, or were sent for treatment, and if considered rehabilitated were returned to active ministry.

It could be said that the bishops of North America and the world, were asleep at the switch.  In fairness, society was asleep at the switch and though many were abused at the hands of priests, far more were abused at the hands of parents, relatives, teachers, coaches and others.  But that does not make good newspaper copy.

Our bishops, priests, and the religious leaders of the Catholic Church may well be anointed with the Sacrament of Holy Orders, into a life of service to the cause and sharing in the life of Jesus Christ.  However, unlike Jesus Christ, we must always remember that they too are sinners, subject to the same temptations as we are, and probably worse, because they are an affront by Holy Orders to the devil and all that he stands for, which is destruction of you and me and them, and separating us from our eternal home with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Like us they have the Holy Spirit for inspiration, but also like us, they are often hard of hearing, or worse still hard of listening.

The sexual abuse scandal and its remnants, particularly in the United States of America is a case in point.  Here in Canada, our bishops created a committee on Child Sexual Abuse, which drafted a report called "From Pain to Hope" in 1992 which has been the foundation of the Canadian Church's handling of the issue and prevention of such behaviours today.  Even in 1992, this was late to address a serious issue that had brought harm to many young people and their families, while undermining the trust of parishioners in their priests.

But, in America it took the Boston Globe breaking news about the criminal prosecutions of 5 priests, to get what appears to be serious action from the US Bishops. In 2002, the US Bishops produced the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  Until that time, the basic principles of the Charter were being applied on an ad hoc approach.

The Charter is focused on the following:
Creating a safe environment for children and young people; 
Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;
Making prompt and effective response to allegations;
Cooperating with civil authorities;
Disciplining offenders;
Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through a national Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and a National Review Board.
 But, it seems that the Charter and its concepts has become a one size fits all, for anything that might have the word "sex" in it.

The Dallas Charter has resulted in the official victimization of priests.  An American priest against whom a claim of some form of sexual misconduct is raised, is punished first, and if by some chance, with his hands tied behind his back, and a blindfold on he is able to prove his innocence, he may have some opportunity to try and rebuild his life and heal his hurting soul.

Father Gordon MacRae's conviction in New Hampshire happened several years before the Dallas Charter.  There was no credible evidence against him, but that did not stop the prosecutor, investigating detective and judge from having him sent away basically forever, since he refused to admit any culpability, for the things that didn't happen, but for which he was charged and convicted.  Had he admitted he had done, what logically could never have occurred, he would be a free man, ostracized, mind you, but free in some sense of the word.  Instead, he continues to claim innocence, and gets to be a guest of the state of New Hampshire.  But, the main reason he sits in prison, is because he was abandoned by the Catholic Church, by his bishop at the time, and his successor, and those responsible for believing incredible claims and paying significant sums of money to those making the claims.

There is nothing in the charter or in the actions of bishops around America, that even pretends that priests are innocent until proven guilty, which presumption by law they have a right to.

Father Mark Gruber, a well known retreat leader and teacher has been silenced because someone used a computer in a public area attached to his office to access homosexual pornography.  The person who did the accessing came forward and admitted his sins.  For a time, Father Gruber attempted to commence a lawsuit to recover his good name.  But, in a courageous action on his part, he abandoned the case because of the pain it would have caused to others.  The case of Father Mark, and his silencing has nothing at all to do with sexual abuse, or sex for that matter.  It is about power, and the power to silence a good and holy priest, under the guise of sexual misconduct.

So too, the case of Father John Corapi, .  A woman, who claimed that she would destroy him for personal reasons, has been able to do that, with the complicity of bishops and those in charge of his order, by making claims of sexual impropriety against him. 

The safest place to be a child in North America today is in a Catholic Church.  The most dangerous place to be a priest in North America today is in the same Catholic Church.

We must pray for our bishops and those in positions of authority in the Catholic Church, that they will use right judgement to examine the challenges they face over claims made against priests, both currently and in review from the past, particularly where there are credible claims of injustice.

Most in positions of authority are priests, and so me must include them in our prayers for priests, who face this internal persecution that makes priestly ministry more difficult for them.  I remember as a small child running up to our parish priest and giving him a hug.  I remember when my children were small and one child, not one of my own, commented out loud to her mother as our then pastor passed by in procession to the altar: "There goes God Mommy."  In a sense this child was correct, as our beloved priests represent Christ for us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Kids don't usually hug our priests anymore, and more's the pity.  Some did break the trust tragically, and some small few may still do it.  But, that childhood holding in awe of our priests, and yet the approachability that was there to help them to see that beauty of a priestly vocation has been lost, and there will be a price to be paid for that down the line.

God Bless our priests and particularly those falsely accused.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Something Crappy going on with Corapi

More than Meets the Eye
I have followed the saga of (Father) John Corapi for some time. I confess that I was never particularly a fan of the good father, not because his teaching was not solid and beneficial to those who were blessed with hearing it. Something else seemed to hold me back from becoming interested in his work.

When all hell broke loose for Fr. Corapi, I did not doubt the veracity of his own claims about what transpired, and I have no doubt now that he is innocent of all charges. But, more is in play here than what we see at first blush.

(Father) Corapi is not the first priest to be falsely accused. If we go back a little in history, we find that Padre Pio was falsely and seriously accused of things beyond his capability of doing. Padre, now Saint, Pio was able to submit to his superiors, and eventually by the Grace of God, he was cleared of all wrong doing, and returned to his priestly faculties.

More recently, Father Gordon MacRae was falsely accused, abandoned by his bishop and diocese, and has spent over 16 years in prison as a guest of the state of New Hampshire. Father MacRae is the author of These Stone Walls, and you can read about his case there, and also the many thoughtful things he has to say about the faith and about the Roman Catholic Church, which he so loves.  He has been forced by circumstance to be submissive to a system that has treated him very badly.

There is also Father Mark Gruber, about whom I have written. Father Mark is a well known retreat master, and beloved for his faith and his communication skills. In what amounts to the weirdest set of circumstances, he has been falsely accused of something that is first of all, not illegal, though it would be sinful, if he did it. But, the SODDI (some other dude did it) defense applies here, not by innuendo, but by fact.  Some Other Dude confessed to doing what Father Gruber was accused of.  Father Mark, in his defence, originally commenced legal proceedings to protect his good name. 

I summarised some of where they are at relative to those of us who are free to roam the earth in this posting

Father Mark Gruber put into perspective his situation, in one of the most  humble and humbling comments yet on situations such as these, when he said:

“No man is just, except Jesus our Savior, and while I’m certainly not guilty of this crime, we all deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, simply for being a sinner on this earth."

But, Father Corapi was only able to take 3 months of being pilloried, by some, though still revered by many, until he cracked. I have no doubt that he is under tremendous emotional strain.  There were reports that Father Gruber was cracking for some time under the strain of false accusation, and I hope that has passed for him, and that he is able to bear his cross with equanimity.  Father MacRae has also born his cross nobly, though he has worked on his defence, and documented it and made it available with the help of supporters.

Father Corapi has handled his situation differently.  He has passively aggressively proclaimed his innocence, and done so with bombast and counter charges, and in reality, as a man falsely accused, he legally has the right to so do.

As one who has been recovering from a brain injury for over 7 years, I have a perspective that I think is somewhat different on this situation.  Father Corapi's behaviour, particularly of late, both in written and spoken form has appeared to be erratic to at least this casual observer, causing at least one commenter to suggest that he is on drugs.  This particular comment, which I believe was way out of line, begat a fiery response from Father C, when it needed none.  What I have discovered is that when one's emotional response to a particular situation is bigger than the situation warrants, then there are likely issues involving brain chemistry and function at play, and help is required.  This is not just from my own experience, but also from the training and experience of one of the foremost psychiatrists in America and probably the world today.

Doctor Daniel Amen, whose clinic I attended a few years back, specialises in brain imaging as a diagnostic tool, and has been particularly successful in situations where behavior has been erratic, even to the extremes of being criminal.  The brain is the center of our thoughts, moods and actions.  In a recent posting Dr. Amen wrote about Brains Acting Badly.  The focus of this article was the sexual misdeeds of some of the recent miscreants highlighted in the MSM, but the conclusions that our brains take the lead in our lives is valid, and must be dealt with if we are to lead lives that are filled with truth and which lead us to holiness.

I believe that Father Corapi is in desperate need of our prayers, and love as fellow travelers on the journey of faith.

It has been my belief for some time now, that we must provide prayer cover for all men who have a vocation to the priesthood.  The mantle of "alter christus" is too heavy for these dear men to carry on their own. They need us to draw alongside them, in prayer and fellowship, where that occasion arises.

Do not abandon Father Corapi, but lift him up.  He is one of us, and if he hurts, we hurt.