Priest charged in exorcism death

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Romanian church

A Romanian priest and four nuns have been charged in the death of a reportedly schizophrenic nun who was crucified in an exorcism. The novice, Maricica Irina Cornici, of Holy Trinity convent in northeast Romania, died last week after spending three days gagged and chained to a cross without food or water in the church’s cellar.

The 23-year-old nun was found with a towel stuffed into her mouth and had been left in the cold room while the priest delivered prayers to drive out evil spirits. An initial autopsy revealed the nun died from dehydration, exhaustion and lack of oxygen. Prosecutors are awaiting the results of a second autopsy, which is being carried out because of a suspicion of foul play.

The priest, Daniel Petru Corogeanu, and four nuns have been charged with imprisonment leading to death. They could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Father Daniel told local news that he was trying to "take the devil out of her". When asked whether the nun was in need of medical help instead of an exorcism, he replied, "You can't take the devil out of people with pills."

Ms. Cornici, who grew up in an orphanage, is said to have entered the remote convent three months earlier. There has been speculation by the Romanian media that Ms. Cornici's schizophrenic behaviour may have caused her fellow nuns and the priest to believe she was possessed by the devil.

The Orthodox Church has condemned the incident and suspended Father Daniel, who has refused to stop work at the Holy Trinity monastery. Riot police had to intervene when scuffles broke out as nuns yelled at a vicar who came to suspend Father Daniel on Sunday.

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