MIAMI, Fla. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Catholics in the archdiocese of Miami are satisfied a parish priest is being removed after evidence showed he was having an improper relationship with a parish maintenance worker.
Christifidelis, a group representing several families at St. Rose of Lima parish in Miami Beach, released a graphic report showing the result of an investigation by a private detective and members of the parish. Father Pedro Corces is shown spending time with a man he hired to be a maintenance worker on parish property.
Records show they frequently went shopping together, went out to eat at expensive restaurants several times a week and even went on vacations together. Photos and receipts from a vacation they took to Puerto Rico show the room they occupied had only one bed. Receipts for items purchased from sex shops and gay musicals were found in Fr. Corces' garbage.
Christifidelis alleges that many of these expenditures come from parish funds. Surveillance showed that Fr. Corces spent some nights at the maintenance worker's apartment and that the worker sometimes spent the night at the rectory.
Christifidelis representative attorney Rosa Armesto spoke with ChurchMilitant.com expressing relief. "We were successful in accomplishing that he was no longer the pastor there and we're happy to know that he'll never be a pastor anywhere so he can not wreak havoc on any other parish. So we're happy to know the bishop will never put him in pastor position and given those duties."
Father Pedro Corces was dismissed as pastor on May 26 and removed from consideration for the pastorship of any parish, as explained in Abp. Wenski's latest letter.
"Father Corces has indicated that he would prefer an assignment in which he would not have to undertake the administrative responsibilities of a pastor," the letter states. "Father has many gifts to share with God's people but running a parish does not seem to be one of them. I will seek to reassign him to a position in which he can share these gifts but without the responsibilities of parochial administration."
Despite the mountain of evidence brought up against Fr. Corces in the report, Abp. Wenski excoriated the group for even bringing it up. In his May 26 letter he admits the investigation had not yet begun but says Christifidelis "fractured the spirit and unity at this long established parish." He calls the information "slanderous gossip, calumny, detraction" without even investigating their claims.
Armesto notes that in Abp. Wenski's latest letter he goes out of his way to try to disprove an accusation Christifidelis doesn't actually make, that Fr. Corces was engaging in homosexual acts with his boyfriend. The archbishop declares Fr. Corces voluntarily took a polygraph test but he never says what questions were asked or what the results actually were. He merely says "no sexual impropriety had occurred."
U.S. courts do not allow polygraph results as evidence because of how subjective the questions and answers can be. Polygraphs are often used as a public relations stunt because of the idea that it is a "lie detector."
Archbishop Wenski writes that "their 200+ page dossier was based on long discredited gossip, misinformation, and falsehoods," yet he does not specify which points in the report he is contesting.
The report maintains Fr. Corces fired maintenance workers who had been there for years and hired his friends. One of them has a criminal record for soliciting an undercover police officer for sex, committing insurance fraud and forging medical documents.
The archbishop maintains in his letter the parish and school were "in compliance" with Safe Environment protocols, yet as Ms. Armesto told ChurchMilitant.com, the maintenance employee with a criminal record is hired and allowed complete access to church and school grounds at all times.
She maintains that parents who have children in the parish school can't go into their children's classroom or even accompany their children on a field trip if they have a criminal record. All parents must have a criminal background check and be fingerprinted. She sent an email to the archdiocese asking how the employee was deemed safe, but never received a response.
In spite of this, Ms. Armesto told ChurchMilitant.com, "While we hoped the bishop would have taken these allegations more seriously and that he would have seen that this man is not fit to be a priest, we are happy to know that at the very least he will no longer be a pastor to wreak havoc on a parish."
She says Abp. Wenski has a personnel problem and there probably isn't much he can do — there aren't enough good and qualified priests to go around. Homosexual infiltration into the seminaries created a problem because these men would be future priests while many good and holy men seeking admission to seminaries were rejected.
Armesto wishes to tell Catholics of the archdiocese of Miami, "If [you] want to help Fr. Corces to continue living his lavish lifestyle, then they can continue making donations to help pay his salary."