The bishop's right hand

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 23, 2004

The chancellor of the Springfield (Illinois) diocese was found badly beaten in a public park on Tuesday night.

The Springfield diocese? Isn't that the one whose former bishop, Daniel Ryan, resigned in 1999 because of health problems that arose soon after he was publicly accused of sexual abuse? Yep; same diocese.

The chancellor's battered body was found in Douglas Park. About which we learn:

Over the years, Douglas Park has developed a reputation as being a meeting spot for gay men. Police in past years have conducted special patrols there in response to complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior.

However, the park also is the site of many high-profile community events, including weekly Springfield Municipal Band concerts in the summer and large family picnics. The park also has a disc golf course that is popular in warmer months.

What do you suppose Msgr. Costa was doing there?

  • He wanted to be first in line for tickets to the band concerts.
  • He's an avid disc-golf competitor, and was getting in some off-season practice.
  • He was scouting out the best areas for a family reunion.
  • He suffers from the same "health problems" that afflict Bishop Ryan, and the Springfield diocese isn't out of the woods yet.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 27, 2004 10:15 AM ET USA

    I bet the Msgr was in mufti. I think we have sufficient evidence for probable cause. It smells like feces, looks like feces then I'll draw a firm conclusion it’s feces w/o a taste test. Not making prudential judgments is what got the episcopacy & us in this mess in the 1st place. I don’t need to witness Fr X’s homosexual activity to decide that he will not be going on any overnight camping trips with my sons. They quit serving the Church and started serving others a long time ago.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 25, 2004 6:53 PM ET USA

    Re: shrink's question: "if you're Costa's supervisor, and there's an opening for chaplain and wrestling coach at the boy's school, and Costa is the only available priest, do you assign him to the boy's school after he's out of the hospital?" To those of you whose answer is yes, heartiest congratulations! You are eligible for immediate elevation to the episcopacy!

  • Posted by: shrink - Dec. 24, 2004 10:22 PM ET USA

    Altar Boy is not susceptible to the Timlin effect. iacomus and Dulcius are still flirting with it. The question still stands: do you assign Costa to the boy's school? The ONLY pejorative info you have is that he got thumped at the gay haunt.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 10:10 PM ET USA

    I'll say 1 prayer for the Msgr, but 10 for his penitents that have been led astray. Diogenes rarely misfires on one of these.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 3:22 PM ET USA

    I was a jury foreman on a murder trial. The victim & the killer were middle-aged men & the killing took place in a park area known by the cops as a homosexual hangout. Folks are warned about this place by the cops & by word-of-mouth & THEY AVOID IT. There was no testimony about the sexual orientation of either the killer or the victim, but it was understood by all on the jury that the circumstances pointed to the obvious conclusion--a sexually motivated killing. This, too, is what it is...

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 2:59 PM ET USA

    Let's give the Msgr. the benefit of our doubts, until the contrary is proven by at least some evidence other than conjecture.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 12:37 PM ET USA

    shrink -- If I were the supervisor of a priest involved in a situation similar to the one reported here, I hope that my assessment of his character would be based on more than a newspaper article. I hope that I would follow God's law (8th Commandment) and Church teaching (CCC 2477) and the Gospels. And that I would take time to know the priest and his past, and to speak openly with him. I hope that I see all as children of God. Here and now the child Costa needs our prayers, not our speculation.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 12:22 PM ET USA

    Shrink: I have not been one to enable our clergy. However, with only the information presented, one cannot firmly draw the conclusion that the Msgr. was out cruising for sex. Now, if it turns out that there is also a history of complaints against the Msgr., porn on his computer or in the rectory, a reputation for frequenting parks or other places of ill-repute, etc., then we would be justified in making the conclusion you want. Candidates for any assignment should receive heightened scrutiny.

  • Posted by: sparch - Dec. 24, 2004 10:25 AM ET USA

    It is a shame that you feel inspired to pass judgement on a man with as little information as shared in your article. I hope that I am ever accused of wrong doing, my accussers will have more at their disposal than a hand full of 'could be' and 'what if'. I will pray for our clergy for, with all their human frailties, have chosen to serve the church. They are not perfect, as we are not perfect, but have still chosen to serve.

  • Posted by: shrink - Dec. 24, 2004 9:47 AM ET USA

    Here's a question for those who are susceptible to the Timlin effect:(iacomus & Dulcius) if you're Costa's supervisor, and there's an opening for chaplain and wrestling coach at the boy's school, and Costa is the only available priest, do you assign him to the boy's school after he's out of the hospital?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2004 12:09 AM ET USA

    This case is reminiscent of one commented on in these pages a short while ago. I speak of the news report repeated here, that the known cruising behavior of a onetime Bishop of Spokane was so egregious that he was "for a time a low-level suspect in the Green River murder case". Yes, we must always and everywhere "ubi et ubique" be deeply charitable in our thoughts. But, we must also reckon that those who receive our charity may account us not charitable Catholics, but stupid enablers.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 8:28 PM ET USA

    Lets' face it. The circumstancial evidence under recent Clerical History is quite overwhelming!

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 8:11 PM ET USA

    Just being one of the former bishop's, hand picked followers, leads one to be suspicious of his behavior. The park has a web site and comments are made about it on that web site that are interesting in nature. Msgn Costa is not out of the woods yet, with brain bleeds that do seem to be slowing down. He is a extremely intelligent man - but not bright. That park is a "gathering space" of another kind. Yes, he needs prayers but so does our diocese; that this present Bishop may lead to lead.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Dec. 23, 2004 8:11 PM ET USA

    CCC 2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty: of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgement.

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - Dec. 23, 2004 4:44 PM ET USA

    The '81 movie, "True Confessions," opens with a Priest having died in a brothel due to carnal overexertion with a female prostitute. A tragic and scandalous scene, but also a lesson about the unforeseen consequences of one's sins. Charity requires one to give Msgr. Costa the benefit of the doubt, and obliges us to pray for Msgr. and his attacker. But still, it is fair to ask, "Do we ever learn?!?!" Dear Infant Jesus, make your Priests pure!

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 2:37 PM ET USA

    I, seriously, think we owe the monsignor the benefit of the doubt unless and until further evidence points to his being a cruising homosexual. Just being in a park, even one noted for homosexual activity, and getting clobbered doesn't really provide enough evidence to draw that conclusion. It does raise some questions but, for now, that's all it does.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 2:07 PM ET USA

    Bp. Gregory didn't say the crisis is "over," he said it was "history." That's something entirely different.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 1:57 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, Monsignor Costa is in critical condition. He needs our prayers, not our judgment. The police, fortunately, provide us an example of keeping the 8th by avoiding gossip: "We're trying to separate all that from this and just stay focused (on the crime)," [Lt. Davis] said. "That does arise in the conversation, but to be truthful, we have no idea." Yes, stay focused: pray.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2004 12:52 PM ET USA

    Ah, but Di, our bishops tell us that the sex crisis is OVER and everything is back to normal, so I doubt the good Msgr. was in the park for nefarious reasons. It's more likely that he was walking and praying The Stations of the Earth. Either that, or hew was simply hoping to establish a street ministry for the less fortunate of the community during this holy season. Happy Winter Celebration!