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Rash judgment?

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jan 12, 2005

A couple of weeks back I wondered aloud about the chancellor of the Springfield, Illinois diocese, who was found badly beaten in a public park that is notorious as a homosexual hangout. Could there be, I asked, some connection with the past bishop of the same diocese, who resigned "for health reasons" but remains in good standing, in spite of a few subsequent appearances on the police blotters.

Some readers felt I was being unfair, arguing that I should have given the battered monsignor "the benefit of the doubt." And I would have done so-- if I had had any doubts.

Now, guess what? Msgr. Costa has resigned as chancellor and as a pastor, and the Springfield diocese discloses that while recovering his health he must also come to terms with some "inappropriate behavior."

What "inappropriate behavior?" The diocese is silent.

Look: It's not a good idea to get beaten unconscious. But since we can reasonably assume that the victim didn't want to be clobbered, that can't be the "inappropriate behavior" in question. And not likely that poor Msgr. Costa did anything terribly inapproprate after the beating, since he's spent his time in a hospital bed.

So we can deduce that the "inappropriate behavior" took place before the near-fatal encounter in the park, and diocesan officials were aware of it-- or could have known, if they had wanted to know. And it took a brutal attack, a public scandal, and the near-death of a priest before the diocese took action.

Now tell me this: If diocesan officials knew about the monsignor's problems, whose interests were served by their silence? Whose interests are served now, by the reluctance to identify exactly what sort of "inappropriate behavior" put Msgr. Costa on death's door?

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  • Posted by: Psalms - Jan. 13, 2005 7:08 PM ET USA

    Quote from Springfield,IL newspaper 1/13/05: "Dec.21 was not the first time Costa had been in unusual places late in the evening, Lucas said. 'Police uncovered a pattern of behaviour inappropriate for a priest,' he said. '" The TV station used "imoral behaviour" instead of "inappropriate" behavior. Now the Bishop is bringing in 3 professional counselors to join him at the Friday meeting with the priests. Just who needs the counseling?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 8:34 AM ET USA

    I was one who favored giving Costa the benefit of the doubt when this story first surfaced. Sure, the church is riddled with corruption. That does not mean we should attach a person's character before we know all the facts. The real answer to the corruption problem is prayer, prayer, prayer, followed by action, action, action.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 12, 2005 8:41 PM ET USA

    The cover up lives! Most Catholics I know have a clear understanding that the big institutional sin was the cover up. All the rest was human frailty and sin - we have big hearts for forgiveness of that. Richard Nixon was driven from office because of the coverup not the crimes. They have still not learned the lesson! End the cover up!

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - Jan. 12, 2005 8:31 PM ET USA

    I too agreed that Msgr. deserved the benefit of the doubt, while in my heart I feared the worst. Now we read that "two teens have been arrested and charged with the attack." You can put a paycheck on them being male and that Msgr. wasn't trying to evangelize them. The sad truth is that most of the American bishops and their chancery lackeys lie without hesitation, they lie to the Priests and to the people. Their lies about the lavender problem, and their cover-ups, are destroying us.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jan. 12, 2005 8:15 PM ET USA

    Obviously this kind of silence serves nobody's interests. But you don't change such strongly ingrained habits easily. And since their handling of what some of us saw as scandal did get them off easily, there's no chance the habit has been changed. Pace, Bishop---sorry, Archbishop---Gregory. The historian.

  • Posted by: Zoromyster - Jan. 12, 2005 6:27 PM ET USA

    I think the answer to your question lies in the location where the good Msgr got clocked. If it was a gay hangout, there is a good chance he is gay. And herein lies a major problem with the USCCBs current program to save the alter boys. Until they admit that HOMOSEXUAL MALES HAVE A PROPENSITY TO PEDOPHILIA, they will just continue to cover up the problem. But, to do so will cause major self guilt which few humans can bring upon themselves without serious psychological damage.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 12, 2005 5:42 PM ET USA

    In this culture, If there are allegations about Msgr. Costa, they will certainly surface. A single venial sin is inappropriate behavior, whether committed by a monseignor or a layperson. (In saying this, I do not meant to convict the good monsignor). That the diocese has apparently denounced his immoral behavior and that he has resigined indicates that he has an opportunity to see the need to correct his behavior. Whether sees and follows through, is between him, his bishop, and God.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 12, 2005 5:25 PM ET USA

    Just what is rash judgement? I thought people were to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps the monsignor is guilty of the implicit accusation of Diogenes. Perhaps he is not. Such judgements might be made by those who have the right and the duty to investigate, but I don't think Diogenes is one of them. Let's have the moral decency to find out guilt before condemnation. Jashu

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