2003 Aug 5 – “Activist priest leave priesthood” by Julia McCord, Omaha World Herald
The Rev. Frank Cordaro, a longtime Catholic peace activist who has been arrested more than 100 times and has spent 44 months in prison for protesting war and nuclear weapons, is leaving the priesthood.
Cordaro, 52, petitioned Iowa Catholic Bishop Joseph Charron for a leave of absence from priestly life. The leave was effective Friday. As is customary, he will submit a second request after being out of the pulpit for a period of time. Only then can he formally leave the priesthood.
Although many reasons led to his decision, the main issue was the Catholic Church’s requirement that priests remain celibate, Cordaro said Tuesday.
Cordaro said he has struggled with celibacy during most of his 18 years of priesthood. A near-fatal heart attack in September 2001 caused him to take stock of his life and to try to minimize stresses.
It wasn’t the priestly life, he said.
Cordaro said he loved administering the sacraments, preaching the Scriptures and praying with those in need.
He concluded that the vow of celibacy he made at his 1985 ordination was a pressure he couldn’t deal with anymore.
“I’m putting down the gauntlet,” he said. “I’m not going to fight that anymore. I’m going to embrace my natural inclinations to look for a soul mate, a partner. I’m going to be open to that.”
Cordaro took another leave of absence in 1999 when he wouldn’t agree to stop risking imprisonment for his anti-war, anti-nuclear activities.
He came back after agreeing to be available for ministry, said Anne Marie Cox, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Des Moines.
Cordaro filled in where needed but had no assigned parish, she said.
“We wish him well in the next year,” Cox said.
Cordaro is widely known at Offutt Air Force Base, where he has participated in many demonstrations.
He will lead a four-day vigil there this week to commemorate the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, respectively, in 1945.
Cordaro will continue to live at the Des Moines Catholic Worker community and devote more of his time to resistance and peacemaking.
He is to be sentenced Aug. 13 for trespassing in March at the Iowa National Guard headquarters at Camp Dodge.
Cordaro has served Iowa parishes in Logan, Mondamin, Woodbine, Missouri Valley, Dunlap, Council Bluffs, Lacona, Rosemount, Milo, Walnut, Avoca, Grand River, Osceola, Stuart, Adair, Cumming, Panora and Guthrie Center.
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