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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jailed Priest Comments on Fr. Corapi Case

Fr. Gordan MacRae is priest convicted of abuse and incarcerated for years. He insists he is innocent and is a victim of an unjust system. It's hard to believe he isn't innocent in view of the fact that he refused release 14 years ago because it would require him to admit guilt. He would rather face an ongoing jail term than swear to a lie. Fr. MacRae knows what it is to be falsely accused and to suffer because of it. I think his comments on Fr. Corapi's situation are particularly valuable from the perspective of a man living the cross of unjust accusation.

Here's part of what he says:
If [Fr. Corapi] is to defend himself at all, he must be able to do so publicly with statements that clearly and decisively refute what is claimed of him. That is not only his right under both the U.S. Constitution and Canon Law, it is also what Catholics expect of him.
But if Father Corapi is barred from presenting himself publicly as a priest, then he is effectively barred from presenting himself publicly at all. Does anyone really expect that Father Corapi is to offer a defense and address this case in public as “Mr. John Corapi” as though Catholics won’t know who he is? Does anyone really expect him to treat the accusations against him as unconnected to the fact that he is a priest? It is, today, his very priesthood that makes him and all priests vulnerable to false accusations. Being forced to pretend otherwise is to be effectively silenced.

I have heard from several people that they are concerned at the lack of “anything new” on this subject. They point out that [until this week] Father Corapi has remained silent since his initial statement, and there is a growing, uneasy feeling that his silence itself gives credence to the claims against him. I believe it is a mistake to interpret his silence as anything more than acquiescence to the bishops’ policy, but in effect his silence leaves him vulnerable to further false claims. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but administrative leave requires Father Corapi to be more like a sitting duck than a rolling stone.

I commend Father John Corapi for his obedience and fidelity to legitimate authority in the Church, but that authority must also recognize Father Corapi’s “Catch-22.” If he is a priest falsely accused, he also has a moral obligation that may be commanded by a higher law. He has a moral obligation to the truth....
There are only two people who know the truth in the “she said / he said” situation faced by Father John Corapi, and one of them has been effectively silenced. If Father Corapi cannot present himself as a priest, then he cannot defend himself as a priest. If he cannot defend himself within the very context in which the accusation against him arose, then he cannot defend himself at all. That’s what makes this case a “Kafkaesque Catch-22.” It is one person’s word against another’s, and one of them now has no word at all....
By being placed on administrative leave, and barred from presenting himself as a priest, Father Corapi is prevented from participating in his own defense in public. This fact causes too many people to interpret silence as guilt. It is sad, but true, and will only worsen over time.

Fr. MacRae brings a perspective to the table that needs to be heard. Fr. Corapi is in a no-win situation at present. Many of those who believe he's innocent recommend that he go to the cross without defending himself. Others support what he's doing. I've vacillated on both sides of the debate. And those who presume his guilt have attacked him for everything from dying his beard to driving a BMW to living an opulent lifestyle (Gosh -- The second two points sound like most of the bishops!) At any rate, read what Fr. MacRae wrote and pray for our poor battered Church and for the priests who serve her. They are all vulnerable to false accusations from those seeking to silence their voices or get revenge for some real or perceived slight.

Read the rest  of Fr. MacRae's article here.


Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

In implying that Fr Corapi has no way to defend himself, Fr MacRae seems to be contradicting Bishop Gracida.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Actually not, I think. He wrote this before Fr. Corapi's announcement that he was resigning. So, as an active priest, Fr. corapi could not defend himself (which is the point Fr. MacRae was making) because of the bishop's policies and rules of suspension. As an inactive priest, outside the bishop's rules, he can speak out and defend himself.

I should have made the timing more clear when I posted it.

Ray Schneider said...

On the opulent life style issue, it is my understanding that Fr. Corapi was not in an order that takes a vow of poverty, but I write that under correction. I recall seeing it somewhere but have not checked it.

Baron Korf said...

If nothing else, the fact that the current system drove such a priest as Fr. Corapi to resign should give all the US bishops pause.

Jackie said...

If I'm not mistaken, Fr. Corapi's order does not take the vow of poverty, so why can't he drive a BMW?? The things that some people focus on... The ones who criticize him the most probably have never heard him preach. He is Catholic to the core.

Anonymous said...

I say let him continue the direction he is going -
Our Lord will take care of him.