Three Priest Abuse Cases in Venice, Fr. John Corapi Make a Strange Week

The Diocese of Venice in Florida has had a rash (for them) of priest abuse cases in the news recently. First, there was the arrest of Carmelite priest Rev. William Wert for committing a sex offense against a minor. More charges against Wert were filed as we learned that Wert had been in trouble for similar sex abuse issues while stationed in Washington DC. Next, a Polish priest incardinated in the Diocese of Venice was arrested in a Sarasota park for exposing his genitals to an undercover officer as well as grabbing the officer’s genitals. Finally, this past week a former Catholic school teacher filed a civil lawsuit against Bishop Frank Dewane fired him after he blew the whistle on a Venice priest, Fr. Cory Mayer, for asking teenage girls inappropriate sexual questions during confession.
Dewayne denied responsibility in the Wert case since the priest is a religious order priest and not affiliated with the Venice diocese. In the matter concerning Fr. Chojnacki, the Diocese placed the priest on administrative leave but has said little about the matter. In the lawsuit concerning the teacher, the Diocese has yet to respond. Given Bishop Dewayne’s reputation as an authoritarian leader, it’s doubtful we’ll hear much about any of these matters.
In an unrelated matter, this past weekend Fr. Corapi, a popular televangelist priest announced he was quitting the priesthood after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused a former female employee. Corapi cited the church’s own internal procedures for his resignation. Corapi’s popularity and his abrupt resignation will no doubt give rise to those who believe Catholic priests are being singled out and railroaded by those who make sexual allegations against them. These certainly aren’t new claims. We hear them regularly from the likes of William Donohue of the Catholic League. Of course, these same folks never mention the thousands of children who’ve been sexually abused and traumatized by priests and religious figures. The trauma and the damage is real but you’d never know it if all you heard was their proclamations.